Mark Gietzen, 69, Dies; Zealous Lieutenant in the Anti-Abortion Movement

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

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

Last August, in what would turn out to be his final large-scale political initiative, Mr. Gietzen (pronounced GEET-zin) spent nearly $120,000 to finance a recount of the decisive vote in Kansas to preserve abortion rights. That month, Mr. Gietzen told The Eagle that the expenditure would make it harder for him to renovate his Cessna, which he said he had been working on for 15 years.

The recount did not change the outcome.

Mr. Gietzen had been prominent in Kansas politics since the so-called Summer of Mercy in 1991, when thousands of people converged in Wichita to block access to abortion clinics, risking arrest.

A resident of Wichita since the late 1970s who had long been interested in…

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This article was written by Alex Traub and originally published on