Doctor shot in abortion feud

A WOMAN was last night being held in jail facing charges of attempted murder after the deep divisions over abortion in the United States once again flared into violence with the second shooting of a doctor this year.

Rachelle Renae Shannon, 37, was accused of shooting George Tiller, one of the few American physicians who perform late-term abortions and long the target of protests from anti-abortionists.

Police said four or five shots were fired at Dr Tiller after he left his clinic in Wichita, Kansas, on Thursday and climbed into his van. He was slightly wounded in each arm but was later released from hospital, vowing to continue carrying out abortions.

The shooting was the latest attack in an increasingly nasty battle over abortion in the US which has led to death threats and acid attacks on clinic staff, and has caused some physicians to carry guns to work. Dr Tiller, 52, sometimes wore a bullet- proof vest and travelled with a guard dog - although it appears he was using neither form of protection when he was shot.

The abortion feud claimed its first fatality in March when Dr David Gunn, 47, was shot dead outside a clinic in Florida during an anti-abortion demonstration sponsored by Rescue America, a group known for its extreme views. Michael Griffin, an outspoken 'pro-lifer', was heard to shout 'Don't kill any more babies' as he fired three shots into Gunn's back. He later gave himself up to police. Witnesses said other demonstrators appeared pleased by the killing.

The founder of Rescue America, Don Treshman, set up a fund for Mr Griffin's family. After Gunn's death, Mr Treshman issued a statement that heightened the fury of pro-abortionists. 'This shooting, while unfortunate, will result in babies' lives being saved,' he said.

After Thursday's attack on Dr Tiller, Mr Treshman said that the shooting may be 'a blessing in disguise for Tiller . . . God may be giving him another chance to realise the horror of what he is doing.' But Operation Rescue, another prominent 'pro-life' group, distanced itself from the incident, saying it did not support 'vigilante acts of violence'.

Planned Parenthood, the pro-abortion group, described the shooting as 'a breakdown of law and order' in America. 'It is a national disgrace, and it must be stopped. We call on every American to express outrage at these troubled, frenzied zealots who think they can take the law into their own hands.'

Ms Shannon was arrested at Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City after returning a rental car that police said matched one seen leaving Dr Tiller's clinic after the shooting. Witnesses said the assailant had joined a small demonstration outside the clinic, handing out literature and speaking to the protesters. After the shooting, clinic employees chased the woman, but she escaped.

Dr Tiller's clinic was one of three picketed by Operation Rescue two years ago, a widely publicised operation that led to 2,700 arrests.

Last week, a Roman Catholic priest in Alabama sought to run an advertisement in a newspaper advocating killing doctors who perform abortions, calling it 'justified homicide'. The newspaper refused to run the advertisement, while church officials ordered the priest, the Rev David Trosch, to recant or resign. His publicity stunt came shortly after a US visit by Pope John Paul II, who confirmed his opposition to abortion several times during his trip.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living