A Wichita clinic formerly operated by slain abortion provider Dr. George Tiller is expected to reopen soon.
Dr. George Tiller’s former building was recently purchased by an organization called Trust Women Foundation. It’s headed by Julie Burkhart, who used to run Tiller’s political action committee.
Abortion services have been unavailable in Wichita since Tiller was gunned down in 2009. Burkhart says each year, women in the Wichita area have to travel to Kansas City or to Oklahoma to get an abortion.
“Approximately 3,000 women have to go elsewhere—or not—to seek medical care,” she says.
Burkhart is quick to point out that the South Wind Women’s Center, as the new facility will be known, will offer comprehensive obstetric and gynecological care.
“I think it’s disappointing that some people in this community want to fixate on abortion care, when we are definitely going to be providing that, but we’re going to also be providing other care as well,” says Burkhart.
Kansans for Life spokesman David Gittrich says calling it a women’s health clinic doesn’t change the facts.
“Okay, well that’s just a different use of terms. If you’re killing the child in the womb, you’re an abortion clinic. And they may like to gloss it over with a bunch of other things, but it’s still an abortion clinic, and that’s what we’re going to refer to it as whether they like it or not,” he says.
Kansans for Life is collecting signatures on a petition aimed at persuading the City of Wichita to re-zone the property to prevent the clinic from opening.
“We are going continue until February 4, and then turn them in to the City Council on February 5, and the Planning Commission on February 21," says Gittrich.
"And I really don’t know where we stand at the moment, but I would say we’re approaching the 10,00o names level, and should have a lot more than that by the time we turn them in."
Gittrich says his group intends to argue that high levels of pedestrian and vehicular traffic outside the clinic will pose a safety hazard in a residential neighborhood.
“In 2007 and 2008, there were thousands of people out there, with traffic jams, ambulances, taxi cabs. In 2010, 2011, when the clinic was closed it was just like any other residential neighborhood.”
If the zoning approach fails, Gittrich says his group will do all they can to persuade women not to have abortions. But Julie Burkhart, of the Trust Women Foundation, insists that decision is not up to them.
“Each and every woman knows best about each and every pregnancy that she has, and that’s a decision for the woman to make in consultation with her family and her physician," she says.
"So until you know what’s in the mind and the heart of a woman, we just can’t make those decisions for individual women.”
Burkhart says her organization has physicians under contract to provide services, but she is not disclosing who they are, because of security concerns.
No specific date has been set for opening the South Wind Women’s Center, but she says it will likely open in the next couple of months.