Human Rights

George Tiller’s former Wichita abortion clinic readies for spring reopening


House of violence.

clinic-wichitaThe doors of the South Winds Women Center have been closed since the death of its late-term abortion provider George Tiller in 2009. Now, three years later, the center’s director and Tiller’s former employee Julie Burkart is planning a reopening. EyeWitness News 12 in Wichita reports:

From the outside it looks the same as did three years ago.  There is a gated driveway, posted no trespassing signs, and a nondescript building.  Inside, the South Wind Women’s Center is taking different shape.

Burkart told EyeWitness News, “We want to be here as a full spectrum medical facility that speaks to the needs of women no matter where they’re at in their pregnancy.”

A number of those “needs” will be for abortions. The South Winds center is committed to offering abortions, excluding only the ones done after 14 weeks. Burkhart acquired the clinic in September of 2012. Along with being the center’s director, she is also the leader of a pro-choice group called “Trust Women.” Burkhart admitted that the center has had a challenging time finding willing doctors and staff to work in the clinic. “Think Progress Health” believes that doctors are hesitant to come to Wichita because of an environment that’s hostile to abortion services. Their reporter Tara Culp-Ressler writes:

In areas like Wichita, where there are already tight abortion restrictions, abortion doctors often aren’t willing to wade into a hostile environment to provide reproductive care. Rising levels of anti-abortion harassment, as well as increasing numbers of restrictions placed on abortion doctors that aren’t required for other types of medical professionals, have contributed to a problematic abortion provider shortage across the country.

Think Progress states that the facility and Burkhart’s house have been visited by picketers. Burkart told KWCH-TV in Wichita that contractors working with the facility have been harassed, and she has been targeted at her home. Burkart went on to say:

We take security very seriously. There have been moments when I’ve been scared, that’s for sure. I don’t sleep with one eye open, but I do take the safety of my family very seriously.

Efforts to take security seriously include working with a private security company who will monitor the building after its opening. In a video posted on “The Raw Story,” Burkhart gives KWCH 12 Eyewitness News a tour of the facility. The video shows special locks placed on doors and video cameras outside the building. Burkhart won’t go into great detail of the security measures in order to protect the center’s workers and patients.

I am personally saddened to hear that this clinic is reopening. No number of security measures can protect women from the emotional scars that abortion can bring. Increased security will never guard women from the physical pain that often comes as a result of abortion. Locks and gates couldn’t protect the hundreds of women in our nation who’ve lost their lives as a result of botched abortions. Burkhart is seeking to protect the workers and patients who’ll be inside the center, and understandably so. Yet a beautiful, guarded, reopened building can’t hide the ugly truth about abortion. Abortion centers will never be the “safe” places pro-choice advocates claim them to be because they allow doctors to perform damaging and destructive acts upon women.

I am a nonviolent activist who was horrified to hear of the late George Tiller’s death. To be truly pro-life, you must love life at every stage and seek to protect it. We don’t fight fire with fire. Abortion is a violence in the womb. When we act out in violence against those who perform abortions, we are committing the same crime as the doctors themselves.

George Tiller’s death came as a result of a wrong, immoral, and violent act. Rebuilding this clinic will only seek to make it possible for more violent acts to be inflicted upon the women and children of Wichitia. The ending of abortion will be a gigantic step forward in the decreasing of violence against the citizens of our nation.

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