Confronting Dr. George Tiller
By: Jesse WattersNovember 22, 2006
The Factor has been investigating a late-term abortion clinic run by Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas. Dr. Tiller, known to his detractors as "Tiller the Baby Killer," stonewalled us when we asked over the last year if he'd performed illegal abortions and covered up child rape at his clinic. But recently the Factor learned that Tiller terminated late-term pregnancies by citing temporary "depression" on the part of the mother, and performed these abortions on girls as young as ten, never informing police these girls were victims of rape or incest.
Jumping on the story
O'Reilly laid out the details in his Talking Points Memo, on November 3rd.
"In the state of Kansas, there is a doctor, George Tiller, who will execute babies for $5,000 if the mother is depressed. And there are rapists impregnating 10-year-olds who are being protected by abortion clinics. It doesn't get worse than that. This is the absolute shame of America."
Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline (R), who'd suspected criminal activity at Tiller's clinic for some time, subpoenaed medical records of women who'd had abortions there. Kline came under fire for what some thought was an invasion of personal privacy, but he said he believed a child's privacy had already been violated if she'd been raped, and he shouldn't be prohibited from gathering evidence of the crime and seeking justice.
Kansas restricts abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy when the fetus would be viable outside the womb, except when the pregnancy would endanger the life of the mother or severely impair a major bodily function. Kansas will also allow late-term abortions if the pregnancy would cause "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major mental function." Tiller has apparently interpreted this as meaning he can perform a late-term abortion if he diagnoses the mother as "depressed." O'Reilly decried this as "vague and undefined."
The Factor has learned that Tiller was aborting babies of girls aged 10-15, including victims of forcible rape, "and those abortions were not reported to authorities as required by law," Bill said, "so the criminals who impregnated the girls have so far gotten away with it."
The guest on the Factor the night of November 3 was the aforementioned Kansas Attorney General Kline. "[In] every single instance, there was not a late-term abortion performed on a viable child to save the life of the mother," Kline asserted, "and in every single instance, there was not an abortion performed for a physical reason." So according to the records, Tiller was using "depression" (and that, Bill concluded, "could be anything") as an excuse to terminate these pregnancies.
"When you have a 10- or 11-year-old child who is pregnant, and gets an abortion, and no one calls the police, it's likely a family member that is abusing that child," said Kline. In Kansas, sexual intercourse with a child under 14 is defined as "rape" because the child is below the age of consent, which means any pregnant girl under 14 getting an abortion at Tiller's clinic is the victim of a crime and Tiller is required to inform authorities. AG Kline indicated Tiller is not reporting the rapes, a felony under Kansas law.
Kline (R), the incumbent Attorney General, was—at that time—locked in a tight election race against Paul Morrison (D), who signaled he might drop the Tiller investigation if elected. A Factor Followup segment revealed that Tiller was tied to groups spending big money to defeat Kline and end the investigation. Tiller founded an abortion rights political action committee (PAC), "Pro Kan Do," which received over $100,000 from Tiller over the last two years, according to the Associated Press. Pro Kan Do's website actively solicits donations to oust Kline from office. Pro Kan Do was also funneling thousands of dollars to less regulated non-profit groups like "Kansans for Consumer Privacy Protection," which was spending money on mass mailings critical of Phill Kline all over the state.
The night before the election, O'Reilly interviewed Megan Mosack, a Kansas radio talk show host, one of the only people reporting on this special interest money. Mosack said Tiller was "intent on buying the office of Attorney General." Tiller's PACs and non-profits were spending $1 million to elect Paul Morrison, she estimated, and were completely "distorting" Phill Kline's record. The negative campaign mailings sent out by these non-profits called Kline "Snoop Dog" for seeking women's medical records, but Bill pointed out that the women's names were blacked out so Kline couldn't know their identity.
The confrontation on the steps
I was on assignment in the Midwest at the time, so Bill told me to travel to Topeka, Kansas and confront Tiller's attorney about the controversy involving his client's abortion clinic.
The crew and I arrived at Pedro Irigonegary's office on the afternoon of November 7th. He happened to be outside just as our van pulled in... and we sprang out with the cameras rolling.
"Do you believe that late-term babies should be terminated in the womb for 'depression'?" I asked after introducing myself.
"Look," he said, staring down at me from atop a flight of stairs. "What's important in this issue is not whether Mr. O'Reilly thinks that he is an expert on depression or not. What's important is what medical people and a woman going through a difficult process decided what's her best interest. I don't care what Mr. O'Reilly thinks."
I continued to question him about Tiller's definition of "depression" and he became agitated.
"That's the kind of junk journalism that I see from O'Reilly on a daily basis!" he argued. I told him that O'Reilly wasn't the issue and he responded, "You're talking about something to get ratings, that's all you're doing!"
I countered that his client's practices were "of questionable legality, and ethics."
"You and Mr. O'Reilly and the entire Fox network are not the individuals who should be make determinations of what is or what is not a legal abortion."
We continued back and forth for a few more minutes until Irigonegaray called me "shameful" and went back into his office.
The next night we aired video of the confrontation and O'Reilly interviewed Mary Kay Culp, executive director of "Kansans For Life," a pro-life organization. Culp said her statistics showed that in every late-term abortion performed since 1998, not one was performed to save the life of the mother. Furthermore, Culp alleged that Tiller and another abortionist were the ones who were making the medical determination of "depression."
"How does he terminate a fetus?" asked Bill.
"His preferred procedure is to find the baby's heart on the sonogram, inject with a poison, kill the baby and then put the mother into labor," explained Culp. The Factor obtained an official office letter signed by Dr. Tiller that seems to confirm this procedure.
"Then does what?" asked Bill.
"Reportedly, he has a funeral-sized crematorium on the property. And people that stand outside and pray report that there are days when ashes actually fall on them... I've seen the pictures with the ashes on their coats." Bill said he didn't believe this was enough to prove the allegation. Culp further claimed that an Associated Press reporter had also witnessed it, but The Factor has yet to verify this.
By the time of the show that night, challenger Paul Morrison had defeated Phill Kline by 16 points, throwing the criminal investigation of Dr. George Tiller into uncertainty. But O'Reilly promised, "We're going to try to stop [Tiller]... we're not going to let up... believe me, we will stay on this story. This is horrendous."
Bill summarized in a heartfelt Talking Points Memo on Friday, November 10th: "If we as a society allow an undefined mental health exception in late-term abortions, then babies can be killed for almost any reason... This is the kind of stuff that happened in Mao's China and Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union... If we allow this, America will no longer be a noble nation... If we allow Dr. George Tiller and his acolytes to continue, we can no longer pass judgment on any behavior by anybody."
Keep watching. There will be more.
Jesse Watters has been a producer for The OReilly Factor since 2003. Before joining Fox News, Watters worked on political campaigns and in finance. He received a B.A. in History from Trinity College (Hartford, CT) in 2001. Watters was born and raised in Philadelphia and moved to New York in 1995.