March 28, 2009 / 12:01 AM / 10 years ago

Kansas "late-term" abortion doctor acquitted

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A Kansas doctor known as one of only a few in the United States willing to perform so-called “late-term” abortions was acquitted on Friday on charges that he performed abortions illegally.

Abortions are generally considered late-term when they are performed after the 20th week of gestation on fetuses potentially old enough to survive outside the womb.

George Tiller, who U.S. anti-abortion groups consider a prime offender, was found innocent on 19 misdemeanor charges that he violated a state law that only allows late-term abortions if two independent physicians agree the procedure is necessary to save a woman’s life or prevent “substantial and irreversible” harm to “a major bodily function.”

Prosecutors alleged Tiller had an illegal financial relationship with the doctor that signed off on the abortions.

But Tiller argued the prosecution was motivated by pro-life politicians and said he obeyed the law.

Tiller’s clinic in Wichita has been the site of mass protests by anti-abortion groups and was bombed in 1985. Tiller was shot and wounded by an abortion opponent in 1993.

Reporting by Carey Gillam; editing by Todd Eastham

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