The charges revolve around a state law which requires that two legally and financially uninvolved physicians sign off on any late-term abortion procedure--a law that seems to have no other purpose than to make life difficult for abortion providers.
The charges against Tiller brought by Attorney General Paul Morrison allege that in 19 procedures from July to November 2003, the Wichita doctor consulted with Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus. The attorney general has said they had a financial relationship, although he hasn't been more specific. As a result, he faces up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine for each of the nineteen charges.
As a comprehensive cross-post by Cara at Feministing.com and thecurvature.com details, Tiller has a long history of being harassed for his work and these allegations are just the latest chapter. He has faced regular protests at his clinic, other trumped-up criminal charges, physical threats, severe vandalism and constant intimidation. He has also been shot.
This new law under which he's been charged is harassment, pure and simple. That's why Tiller's attorneys are challenging the constitutionality of the statute. (A hearing was set for Aug. 10.) Moreover, as Cara rightly insists, "Requiring written approval of any late-term abortion procedure from two independent physicians is not only requiring the abortion provider to seek permission to practice medicine, it's also essentially requiring that the woman get permission to successfully request medical care. Her choice, along with the medical advice of her doctor, is not enough. Late-term abortions, contrary to what anti-abortion activists constantly profess, are not undertaken lightly. The women who receive medical care at Dr. Tiller's facility come from all over the country; Dr. Tiller is hardly going to be their first medical consultation. They seek their abortions either due to health risks to themselves or severe fetal deformity. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who likes late-term abortion, and that includes the women who need them."
Tiller has been operating bravely for years doing thankless work in the face of constant efforts to drive him away from his practice. The latest charges against him are meant to distract as much as punish and make it financially prohibitive for him to continue his services. So now he needs our help. Please send donations and words of support by mail to the address below.
Women's Health Care Services
5107 East Kellogg
Wichita, Kansas USA 67218