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US abortion doctor shot dead in church

A doctor who performed abortions at a clinic in Kansas, was shot dead on Sunday morning. Dr George Tiller, 67, was killed in the doorway of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, where he was serving as an usher. His wife Jeanne was in the choir.

Police said that a man called Scott Roeder was going to be charged with one count of murder and two counts of aggravated assault.

Dr Tiller had previously been the victim of violence. In 1993, he was shot in both arms by an abortion protester as he drove away from his clinic. In 1986, his Women's Health Care Services clinic was severely damaged in a bomb blast. In 1991, the clinic was blockaded for six weeks by anti-abortion protesters.

Last month, Tiller's attorneys told the Associated Press, the doctor had asked the FBI to investigate an incident where vandals cut wires to security cameras, cut holes in the roof and plugged downspouts, resulting in thousands of dollars in damage to the clinic.

In March, he was acquitted of charges that he broke a Kansas law requiring a second doctor to affirm that a late-term abortion was necessary to preserve the health of the woman. That second doctor must be financially and legally independent from the first physician. In a trial that lasted five days Tiller was cleared of charges that he had improper ties to Dr Ann Kristin Neuhaus.

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput said yesterday that the killing was an "inexcusable crime" that contradicted anti-abortion advocates' beliefs. "Violence won't end abortions," he said.

Pro-life groups have condemned the shooting. Mary Kay Culp, Executive Director of Kansans for Life said the killing is inconsistent with the way Kansans for Life operates.

She said: "We get citizens together. We don't approve of violence at all. It goes against the way we area organized and goes against everything we believe in," she said.