WICHITA — A possible confrontation over abortion never came to pass Saturday as opposing groups convened at noon at different locations.
About 30 abortion opponents met at the headquarters of Operation Rescue on East Central for a memorial service and to pray for what they called healing from the shooting death of Wichita abortion provider George Tiller.
Meanwhile, more than 40 supporters of abortion rights met at Tiller's former clinic on East Kellogg. Tiller's family closed the clinic for good about two weeks ago.
The abortion opponents had planned to hold their service outside the clinic, but changed the site after learning that the Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women was going to hold a counter-protest at the clinic.
"We're not interested in confrontation," said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue.
Abortion rights supporters gathered outside the clinic, sheltering themselves with umbrellas from a steady rain.
"They decided to move, and I respect that," said Marla Patrick, state coordinator for Kansas NOW. "They never should have considered coming here in the first place.
"We're here to prevent them from dancing on the proverbial grave of a murdered man. We don't want them to go unchallenged."
At the abortion opponents' service, the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, head of the Washington-based Christian Defense Coalition, told the group, "This is a time for healing and life."
"We're not celebrating the death of Dr. Tiller," he added.
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