Local woman formerly worked for slain Kansas abortion doctor
Luhra Tivis thought she was pro-choice until she worked for the late Dr. George Tiller.
Tivis, who now lives in Enid, said she worked for Tiller in Wichita, Kan., in 1988. Tivis did computer work at the abortion clinic, filing Medicare records. She also underwent some sales training and answered calls from patients. She now is employed at StarTek and also works for Wheatheart Nutrition delivering meals.
Since her experience working in the clinic, Tivis has changed her opinion about abortion, is a member of Operation Rescue and an outspoken opponent of abortion, speaking at rallies throughout the United States.
“It was a little tense because of the protests. Dr. Tiller had the kind of personality that was wound up, he was very intense,” she said.
Tiller was shot to death May 31 while ushering in his Wichita church. It was not the first time he had been shot, and his clinic also had been bombed by anti-abortion acti-vists.
His family said Tuesday his Women’s Health Care Services Inc. clinic will be closed permanently.
All of those incidents occurred after Tivis left Tiller’s employment. However, while she was there she said a group of nuns held a prayer vigil outside the office.
“All these little old lady nuns were kneeling and saying their rosary,” she said.
Other times, people walked up and down in front of the clinic handing out pamphlets. In one other instance Tivis said she had to drive slowly through a large group of people to reach the clinic gate.
“He got a lot of weird mail, but no death threats at that time,” she said.
The intensity of the protests and the controversy eventually took a toll on her, she said.
Tivis worked at the clinic about a year before she started to have second thoughts about the job and began applying for other jobs. She applied to an attorney who called Tiller. When Tiller discovered she was looking for a job he fired her, Tivis said.
Tivis said she was concerned about the number of women who came to the clinic for late-term abortions.
“I was seeing eight- and nine-month pregnant women come in,” she said, “and out of those two dozen a week, only about 2 percent had medical deformities. I thought I was pro-choice back then, but week after week I kept seeing these women coming in with healthy babies and I saw all the records. I didn’t think that was right.”
She asked a pro-choice friend who agreed with her. Tivis attended a pro-life rally in 1991 and was convinced to join the pro-life movement.
She has since been active in anti-abortion groups and has written blogs and testimonies on the Internet about her time at the clinic. She recalled one day seeing Tiller come from the surgery room carrying a cardboard box. He asked her to open a door for him and she saw his crematorium.
“I realized that box was full of dead babies. That freaked me out. That was right before I left,” she said.
A Tiller spokeswoman denounced Tivis’ accounts back in 1992.
In a March 11, 1992, story in the Wichita Eagle, Peggy Jarman, a spokeswoman for Tiller, said he did not perform abortions on healthy fetuses in the third trimester. The comments referred to in the Wichita Eagle story were made at a meeting of the Senate State and Federal Affairs Committee in Topeka.
“Luhra Tivis is a disgruntled employee whose credibility is lacking because of that,” Jarman said in the 1992 Wichita Eagle story. “She was fired from Dr. Tiller’s practice not because she was looking for another job, but for walking off the job without telling anybody that she was leaving. So, she is taking out her anger by giving absolutely incorrect information in this hearing.”