Special Reports

Future of George Tiller's clinic is unclear

The future of the clinic run by slain abortion doctor George Tiller was clouded Tuesday when his family issued a statement saying no decisions had been reached about what's next for Women's Health Care Services.

The message countermanded statements that the clinic would resume normal operations next Monday by physician LeRoy Carhart, who had worked with Tiller for more than 10 years. Carhart, who travels from Nebraska for a few days every three weeks to work at the clinic, made his comments earlier this week.

"The family's hope is that the valuable work of Dr. Tiller will be able to continue, but there have been no final decisions made about the long-term plans for the medical practice," said the statement released by Tiller's attorneys, Dan Monnat and Lee Thompson, on behalf of Jeanne Tiller and the Tiller family.

"There is currently no plan to immediately reopen the clinic and no patients are being scheduled at this time. The Tiller family's focus, of course, is to determine what is in the best interests of the employees and the patients."

On Monday, Carhart had said the clinic would be closed the rest of the week so the staff could mourn Tiller's death, and then reopen next Monday.

Tiller, 67, was shot to death Sunday morning while he was serving as an usher at Reformation Lutheran Church.

On Tuesday, Carhart blamed "a misunderstanding" for the mixed messages on the clinic's future.

"We all thought that we heard we were going to reopen" next Monday, Carhart said of doctors and staff members he spoke with who met with Tiller family members on Monday. "I got a call this morning that that was not what was said."

Carhart also operates his own clinic, Abortion & Contraception Clinic of Nebraska, in the Omaha suburb of Bellevue.

The Tiller family will make the final call on the Wichita clinic's future, Carhart said. He does not speak for the clinic.

But the doctors who worked with George Tiller want to keep his mission alive in some fashion. With Tiller's death, there are fewer than 10 doctors -- including Carhart -- who perform third-trimester abortions in the United States.

"I think we're committed to the concept of a place for women to go" for late-term abortions, he said. "I hope it will all settle down and sort out and we'll all be fine."