Murder charge laid in Kansas abortion doctor's killing

A 51-year-old man was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a Kansas doctor who performed abortions.

A 51-year-old man was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder in the shooting death of a Kansas doctor who performed abortions.

Scott Roeder appeared in a Wichita court via video from jail.

Roeder is accused of killing George Tiller on Sunday as the doctor served as an usher at his Lutheran church in Wichita. He also is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly threatening two people who tried to stop him.

The accused was taken into custody some 270 kilometres away in a Kansas City suburb about three hours after the shooting.

Tiller had been a lightning rod for abortion opponents for decades. The women's clinic he ran is one of three in the nation where abortions are performed after the 21st week of pregnancy, when the fetus is considered viable, and has been the target of repeated protests for about two decades.

A protester shot Tiller in both arms in 1993 and his clinic was bombed in 1985.

The last killing of an abortion provider was in October, 1998 when Dr. Barnett Slepian was fatally shot in his home in a suburb of Buffalo, N.Y. A militant abortion opponent was convicted of the murder.