Mark Gietzen, 69, Dies; Zealous Lieutenant within the Anti-Abortion Motion

Mark Gietzen, 69, Dies; Zealous Lieutenant within the Anti-Abortion Motion

Mark Gietzen, who gained prominence as one of many nation’s most zealous grass-roots opponents of abortion, died on Tuesday. He was 69.

The Kansas Republican Party announced his dying. The Wichita Eagle reported that Mr. Gietzen died when his Cessna 172 crashed a number of miles northeast of Chambers, Neb.

Last August, in what would change into his closing large-scale political initiative, Mr. Gietzen (pronounced GEET-zin) spent almost $120,000 to finance a recount of the decisive vote in Kansas to protect abortion rights. That month, Mr. Gietzen instructed The Eagle that the expenditure would make it more durable for him to renovate his Cessna, which he mentioned he had been engaged on for 15 years.

The recount didn’t change the end result.

Mr. Gietzen had been distinguished in Kansas politics because the so-called Summer of Mercy in 1991, when 1000’s of individuals converged in Wichita to dam entry to abortion clinics, risking arrest.

A resident of Wichita because the late Nineteen Seventies who had lengthy been excited about Republican politics, Mr. Gietzen threw himself into political organizing after that summer time and have become chairman of the Republican group in Sedgwick County, which incorporates Wichita. With his assist, the Republicans received the Kansas House of Representatives, inaugurating a run of management of each state legislative chambers that has continued ever since.

Mr. Gietzen devoted a lot of his time to a company of which he was chairman, the Kansas Coalition for Life, and to its protests in opposition to Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita abortion physician. The long-simmering battle in opposition to Dr. Tiller’s apply helped make town a staging floor for the nationwide abortion debate.

Mr. Gietzen presided over a community of a whole bunch of volunteers who protested in opposition to Dr. Tiller in shifts. They tried to influence sufferers arriving at his clinic to alter their minds — counting “saves” for girls who determined to not get abortions.

Activists blockaded his clinic, campaigned to have him prosecuted, tailed him with hidden cameras, sued him, threatened him. One bombed his clinic. Another tried to kill him in 1993, firing 5 pictures, wounding each arms.

Dr. Tiller defiantly dug in, increasing his clinic and beefing up its safety.

The battle ended on a Sunday morning in 2009, when Mr. Tiller was shot to dying whereas attending church. His clinic closed, and Mr. Gietzen discovered himself a frequent interview topic within the nationwide information media.

“It seems like our prayer was answered,” Mr. Gietzen instructed The USA Prime Time. “We would have preferred to have executed this a distinct manner, although. Now we now have 1000’s of individuals bad-mouthing us, refusing to donate, telling us our web site incited this.”

Mr. Gietzen was born on Feb. 9, 1954, and grew up in Glen Ullin, N.D., a tiny metropolis close to Bismarck. His father was concerned within the state’s fledgling anti-abortion motion.

He served within the Marines and, within the late Nineteen Seventies, earned an affiliate diploma in aviation upkeep from the Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology in Tulsa, Okla. Soon after that, he moved to Wichita to work for Boeing.

He was a frequent unsuccessful candidate in native elections, together with for mayor of Wichita.

He was the only father or mother of three youngsters. Information about survivors was not instantly obtainable.

The 2004 guide, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?,” which examined the rise of populist conservatism within the state, depicted Mr. Gietzen as a logo of a number of the forces driving previously liberal Americans to repudiate the Democratic Party.

“Gietzen was constructing a social motion, one convert at a time,” the creator, Thomas Frank, wrote. “On the left it is not uncommon to listen to descriptions of the backlash as a strictly top-down affair by which Republican spellbinders rally a demographically shrinking sector of the inhabitants for one final, drained drive. What the Wichita Republicans have achieved, although, ought to dispel this fable endlessly. They shouted their combating creed to each resident of town, sharpening the variations, polarizing the citizens, letting everybody know the stakes.”

Mr. Frank continued: “Gietzen and firm wished not solely Wichita’s votes however its participation. They have been going to alter the world.”

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