A Wichita clinic formerly operated by slain abortion provider Dr. George Tiller is expected to reopen soon.
Tiller’s former building was recently purchased by an organization called the 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, thousands of women in the Wichita area have to travel to Kansas City or to Oklahoma to get an abortion.
“Approximately three thousand women have to go elsewhere,” says Burkhart.
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.”
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,” says Gittrich.
Kansans for Life is collecting signatures on a petition aimed at persuading the City of Wichita to rezone the property to prevent the clinic from opening.
“We are going to continue until February 4th, and then turn them in to the City Council on February 5th, and the Planning Commission on February 21st. And I really don’t know where we stand at the moment, but I would say we’re approaching the ten-thousand names level, and should have a lot more than that by the time we turn them in,” says Gittrich.
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,” said Gittrich.
If the zoning approach fails, Gittrich says his group will do all they can to persuade women not to abort their unborn babies. 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 that’s a decision for the woman to make in consultation with her family and her physician. 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,” said Burkhart.
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.