Kansas Abortion Clinic Operated By Dr. George Tiller To Reopen

Finally, something positive happening for the reproductive rights of women in Kansas. Four years after abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was fatally shot by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder in Wichita, Kansas, his clinic is re-opening.

Activist Julie Burkhart, who worked with Dr. Tiller for seven years, started the nonprofit organization Trust Women Foundation in 2010.  The foundation purchased Tiller’s old office, and after raising nearly $1 million, is ready to open the South Wind Women’s Center.

There will be some changes: unlike under Dr. Tiller, the clinic will not provide late-term abortions.  The Kansas City Star reports that despite the fact that Kansas allows abortions 22 weeks into a pregnancy, the clinic’s cutoff will be 14 weeks.  South Wind Women’s Center will also provide other women’s heath services including fertility counseling and other routine health care, like Pap smears.

Of course, anti-choice activists like Troy Newman of Operation Rescue are not at all pleased, and actively trying to stop it from functioning — Newman even incorporated himself with the name Trust Women Foundation before Burkart could.  Newman said of the clinic, “They’re going to go out of business, because we’re going to make sure that it’s not economically feasible to run it.”

In an area where anti-choice Roeder resorted to murder, it’s not surprising that tactics to stop the clinic were downright scary.  Burkhart told the Star, that she was stalked, had protesters outside of her door and had degrading fliers containing personal information like her address distributed through the neighborhood.  The worst though was a sign put on her lawn with a photo of a fetus and the words, “Where’s your church?”  Burkhart said, “I took it as meaning, ‘We’re going to get a gunman and track you down at your church,'” echoing the fate of Dr. Tiller, who was murdered in his place of worship.

In the face of such alarming opposition, security has been ramped up — but with no plans to back down.  National Abortion Federation president and CEO Vicki Saporta underscores why the opening of this clinic is so important:

“It sends a message to anti-abortion extremists that violence doesn’t work, and it fills a need in the community for women who need to access quality abortion care so those women won’t have to be traveling to Kansas City or other places.”

In 2008 there were only four clinics providing abortions in Kansas, according to the Guttmacher Institute.  This clinic means that women who choose to have an abortion now have another option in providers.  And those who choose not to, have a clinic to go to for vital women’s health services. Great news all around.

[The Kansas City Star]
[Guttmacher Institute]

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