Marking the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a small group gathered Tuesday morning at George Tiller’s clinic and called the doctor a courageous man for giving women a choice.

An Operation Rescue truck sat parked in the background, featuring pictures of aborted fetuses. That group has been pushing for criminal charges against Tiller.

Wichita Stands with Dr. Tiller, described by spokeswoman Diane Wahto as a coalition of abortion-rights groups, lauded Tiller for his service to women despite facing what they termed harassment, intimidation and violence from abortion opponents.

The group held a short news conference, Wahto said, to remind others that challenges to Roe v. Wade “will never stop women from seeking control over their own bodies.”

On Monday, Troy Newman, the leader of Operation Rescue, held a news conference accusing prosecutors of not enforcing laws governing late-term abortions.

Tuesday, Wichita lawyer Dan Monnat, who has represented Tiller in grand jury investigations into his practice at Women’s Health Care Services, said Roe v. Wade “might just be pages in a dusty law book” if not for people such as Tiller.

Doctors such as Tiller, Monnat said, use the “power of Roe v. Wade to help women with excruciating decisions.”

Lee Thompson, another Tiller lawyer, pointed to a line between the driveway to Tiller’s clinic on East Kellogg Avenue and a public street.

“This is the front line for the battle of abortion in America,” he said.

Operation Rescue planned a candlelight vigil and prayer service at Tiller’s clinic to mark the anniversary.

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