WICHITA, January 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews) – The abortion facility where infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller killed thousands of nearly full-term babies before he was fatally shot in 2009 is slated to reopen this spring, despite community efforts to stop it.
The clinic, which has been closed since Tiller’s death, was the site of constant protests.
Tiller was the most notorious of a small group of practitioners who openly perform abortion in the final trimester of pregnancy. His clinic was the sole abortion facility in Wichita, and women from around the world traveled there to have their late-term babies aborted. After his murder, his family decided to close his clinic and abandon the abortion business entirely.
That’s when Julie Burkhart, who formerly worked with Tiller on political and legislative issues, founded an abortion advocacy group with one goal: bring abortion back to Wichita.
It took 2 ½ years to plan a new clinic, but Burkhart’s “Trust Women Foundation Inc.” now owns the Tiller property. Renovations have been underway inside the nearly windowless building, but after Burkhart’s group failed to file the required permits, pro-life group Operation Rescue sued to stop construction.
“The abortion clinic hasn’t even opened and already it is showing a disregard for the law and for the lives and health of women. If they can’t do a simple thing like pull the appropriate building permits, then they can’t be expected to obey the state’s abortion or standard of care laws, either,” said Cheryl Sullenger, Senior Policy Advisor for Operation Rescue, who filed the complaint.
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“If this clinic is allowed to reopen, it is only a matter of time before their gross disregard for the law lands more women in the hospital emergency rooms just as Tiller’s abortion operation did,” added Sullenger. “It’s as sure as the sun rising in the east.”
Sullenger said that her group will not back down from their fight to stop the facility from re-opening. “Once they get the permits we'll be off to the next thing – we will try to persuade contractors not to work there,” she said.
Mark Gietzen, chairman of Kansas Coalition for Life, is helping with a petition drive led by Kansans for Life asking the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission and Wichita City Council to rezone the property, which is located in a quiet residential area, to prevent a clinic from opening there.
Several thousand signatures have been gathered in the online petition drive, according to David Gittrich, development director of Kansans for Life. The petitions will be presented next month.
“We can't stop an abortion clinic, but we can stop it from going in there,” Gietzen said. He suggested a commercial area would be a more appropriate location.
At a meeting of the city council last month, city attorney Gary Rebenstorf said the council had the right to rezone the property, but under state law the official reason for the switch could not be to stop an abortion clinic.
If Burkhart succeeds in reopening the clinic, it will be called “South Wind Women’s Center.”