What was the Campaign to Shut Down George Tiller?

Campaign to Shut Down Dr. George Tiller

In 2002, three years after becoming the national leader of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman moved its headquarters to Wichita, Kansas. Upon his arrival in Wichita, Newman launched a seven-year campaign, engaging in systematic harassment, intimidation, and terrorizing of Dr. George Tiller – and his clinic staff – at their homes, the clinic, and any other location they frequented, including dry cleaners, restaurants and even Dr. Tiller's church. The campaign also targeted business suppliers to the clinic, such as the local taxi company.

Newman called the first year of the campaign the “Year of Rebuke,” and said in press interviews that he picked through clinic worker’s trash and followed them in his car to learn their routines. (Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2004)

Newman ran a full-page ad in The Wanderer on January 22, 2004, in which he said:

"Wichita isn't big enough for George Tiller and me. One of us has to go and it's not going to be me."
"...we do private investigative work to find out who's on Tiller's staff.”
“We're constantly gathering information about Tiller's staff members so we can picket them at home and leaflet their neighborhoods.”
"We're picketing Tiller at his Lutheran church.”

In addition, Operation Rescue filed numerous complaints with various Kansas state agencies, including the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, which triggered investigations into Dr. Tiller and his clinic. Operation Rescue also spearheaded at least two attempts to secure criminal charges against Dr. Tiller through citizen-convened Grand Jury investigations; both failed to result in indictments. Ultimately, however, Operation Rescue was successful in getting then-Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline to subpoena Dr. Tiller’s patient records and file criminal misdemeanor charges against Dr. Tiller for “illegal abortions.” The charges were dismissed,1 but 19 other charges that could have resulted in a 20-year jail sentence were filed by Kline’s successor. Following a jury trial, Dr. Tiller was acquitted on all charges. Shortly thereafter, in May 2009, Dr. Tiller was murdered in his church by anti-abortion extremist and self-proclaimed Operation Rescue participant Scott Roeder.

Read this investigative piece on Dr. Tiller’s murder: “Not A Lone Wolf,” Ms. Magazine, Spring 2010.

  1. Kline was ultimately brought before a state disciplinary board for lying to the judge in his efforts to secure the subpoenas and lost the right to practice law in Kansas.