House speaker undeterred by abortion foes’ pressure

TOPEKA, Kan. | House members who oppose abortion and the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue have been pressuring Speaker Melvin Neufeld for weeks to move against the state’s best-known abortion provider.

It shows no signs of working.

Neufeld says attempts to revive a dismissed criminal case against Dr. George Tiller or to have the House investigate the doctor’s activities aren’t productive. He dismisses those ideas as “trying to get your name in the newspaper.”

“It’s always important to remember in politics, as in the rest of life, intimidation is not a winning strategy,” said Neufeld, R-Ingalls.

In his 21-year legislative career, Neufeld has been a consistent supporter of restrictions on abortion, but he has found himself in the strange position of being criticized by fellow abortion foes over Tiller.

Tiller’s clinic in Wichita is one of the few in the U.S. that perform late-term abortions. In December, outgoing Attorney General Phill Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, filed 30 misdemeanor criminal charges against Tiller in Sedgwick County, accusing the doctor of performing illegal late-term procedures.