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Abortionist George Tiller’s successor looks to open Oklahoma abortion center

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When this year’s American’s United for Life list ranking of pro-life states was released, Oklahoma was at the top of the list as the most protective state for life. Now an infamous abortionist has plans to move into the state to increase abortion access.

Julie Burkhart, who was mentored by late-term abortionist George Tiller, reopened Tiller’s Wichita, Kansas, facility in 2013 under the name South Wind Women’s Center, and she says plans are underway to build a new abortion center three-and-a-half hours south in Oklahoma City. In a recent article on Bloomberg.com, Burkhart laments the lack of respect she receives as an abortion provider. She also reveals her commitment to providing abortion in her region; thus, she has decided to add Oklahoma to her list.

31821_380138722184_1557757_nAlong with running Tiller’s old facility, Burkhart heads the TrustWomen Foundation which seeks to make sure abortion facilities are in “underserved communities.” Burkhart insists that pro-life Oklahoma needs her services. A fundraiser for the Oklahoma abortion facility explains it this way:

Trust Women is opening an abortion clinic in Oklahoma City. In 2013, TW opened Wichita, Kansas’ only abortion clinic, its flagship clinic. TW has the know-how and experience to navigate hostile environments and oppressive policies to open clinics in underserved communities.

In OK there are 18,713 women for every 1 OBGYN—the 2nd worst access in the US. OK has some of the nation’s highest infant mortality and maternal mortality rates. OK has the 5th highest teen pregnancy rate in the US.

Trust Women opens clinics that provide abortion care so that all women can make their own decisions about their health care.

Oklahoma needs a clinic… you can make this happen.

While her fundraising page doesn’t show much traction, Bloomberg reports the money is there because the $1 million facility will be the first to open in the state since 1974, the year after Roe v. Wade. She tells Bloomberg that there are only two abortion facilities in the state, and one abortionist is old enough to retire; therefore, Burkhart is set on providing another, presumably to keep business moving along. This is important, the article notes, because both Kansas and Oklahoma are such pro-life states that they “prohibit publicly funded entities from performing most abortions, [which means] local hospitals can’t train the next generation to replace aging doctors.”

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Of course, building an abortion clinic in the most pro-life state in the nation is a challenge in itself. Burkhart runs a debt-free facility in Wichita, but that didn’t make it easy for her to get a bank loan to supplement her fundraiser. Bloomberg reports:

She hoped that running the Wichita clinic debt-free would make financing the Oklahoma clinic easier, but it took a year to find a regional bank willing to provide a loan for one-third of the construction costs. She won’t name the bank. “I don’t want them to have to undergo any conflict,” she says.

What’s curious about her quest to create a chain of abortion facilities in pro-life regions is that she alleges to not make money from the facility itself. Bloomberg reports:

South Wind almost breaks even, taking in about $1 million a year. In addition to construction, staffing is a major cost for clinics. For her Oklahoma City location, Burkhart anticipates hiring four administrators, two or three doctors, and five or six other medical personnel. The market rate for a nurse in Oklahoma City is $60,000; a local OB-GYN on average makes $250,000. Still, Burkhart says, “On paper, we look pretty good.”

According to Trust Women’s annual report, abortion is the focus.

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The annual report announces the Oklahoma facility saying,

We are preparing to open up our second clinic, reintroducing access to abortion care to Oklahoma City, despite roadblocks and challenges.

Her Wichita facility is not without controversy. A few months ago,  a scared teenager was pulled out of school and taken there for an abortion. Operation Rescue says Burkhart is an extremist, opposing any efforts to regulate abortion facilities:

Burkhart is a militant pro-abortion activist who once worked for the notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller as head of his now-defunct political action committee. During that time, Burkhart was paid by Tiller to lobby against common sense laws that provided late-term abortion limits, as well as safety standards and accountability for abortion clinics. She also opposed efforts by Attorney General Phil Kline to investigate the non-reporting of child sex abuse at Kansas abortion clinics.

South Wind Women's Center owner Julie Burkhart (via netrootsnation.org)

South Wind Women’s Center owner Julie Burkhart (via netrootsnation.org)

But Bloomberg.com portrays Burkhart as a victim who needs protection as she plots her foray into the most pro-life state in the nation, saying, “Burkhart isn’t paranoid. Anti-abortion organizations closely monitor and publicize local businesses’ dealings with abortion clinics.”

The article notes the efforts of pro-lifers to prevent abortion facilities from opening, an effort likely to occur in Oklahoma City once news gets out about the new facility. Bloomberg reports on Operation Rescue’s goal to prevent abortion facilities from opening by using all legal efforts available to do so:

Says its president, Troy Newman: “We do everything legal and moral to make sure these abortion clinics aren’t able to open up. We’ll talk to landlords. We’ll talk to neighbors. We’ll send postcards out asking not to rent, lease, or sell to an abortionist.”

Melissa Conway from Texas Right to Life, also noted in the article that “when anti-abortion organizations in her state ‘hear a rumbling’ about an abortion clinic coming to town, activists will go to the local permit office ‘almost on a daily basis’ until documents with contractors’ names are available. Then they blast the contractors with phone calls and organize boycotts.”

It seems the Oklahoma City facility has been a quiet effort so far, but it’s likely that as Trust Women continues its efforts to add more abortion to the state, and the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice joins them to fight for more abortion access in the state, there will be more than just ‘rumblings’ from pro-lifers on Oklahoma’s foundation.

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