Civil rights lawyer and women's rights advocate Gloria Allred told a group of Wichitans on Friday night that the slaying of abortion provider George Tiller has prompted outrage far beyond Kansas.
"This is not just something happening in Wichita, Kansas," she said. "This is a national issue, an international issue, because people from all over the world came to him for abortions."
Allred said that when she told her friends in Los Angeles that she was coming to Wichita, they reacted in disbelief.
"They said, 'My God, Gloria, you're going to Wichita? Aren't you afraid? Take your bullet-proof vest.
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"I said, 'How could I not go?' We're not going to be intimidated by a murderer, by a coward.... How can we live in a country where only two doctors do late-term abortions, and one of them has just been murdered?"
Allred's comments came during a Community Discussion on Choice that was sponsored by the Kansas National Organization for Women. About 75 people attended the event at the First Unitarian Universalist Church at 7202 E. 21st.
Allred told the group that she had an abortion before the 1973 Roe. v. Wade Supreme Court ruling that made the procedure legal. She said her pregnancy was the result of a rape at gunpoint. She said the abortion, which was not performed by a doctor, nearly cost her her life.
"I have no regrets about having that abortion," she said. "My only regret is that it couldn't be done legally and safety."
Among those attending the event was Sunsara Taylor, a New York City writer and activist who said Tiller's slaying prompted rallies in New York that drew hundreds of people.
"This has been going on all over the country," she told the group.
Taylor said the shooting has focused a national spotlight on abortion. She said it's time for abortion rights activists to make sure their voices are heard by those who normally aren't paying attention.
"Millions of people thought they could tune out the abortion war," she said. "At this moment, millions are tuned in. We have to do something positive about that."