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Kansas abortion clinic reopens after doctor's murder

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 23rd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Dr. George Tiller was among only a few doctors in Wichita, Kansas - or the United States in general to perform late-term abortions before he was gunned down at a Wichita church in 2009. The clinic where he practiced is now set to reopen, and pro-life groups there are trying to make sure it stays closed.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The clinic has come to light as the U.S. marks the 40th anniversary this week of the Roe vs. Wade U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal in the first trimester of pregnancy.

Scott Roeder is serving a life sentence after testifying that he killed Tiller to stop abortions. Tiller had owned the clinic. His survivors decided to close it down and withdraw involvement following his murder.

Pro-life groups there are trying to block or delay the reopening of the clinic through a rezoning petition. They have also filed complaints to the city that permits haven't been issued as required for the clinic's indoor remodeling.

"Once they get the permits we'll be off to the next thing - we will try to persuade contractors not to work there," Cheryl Sullenger of the Wichita chapter of Operation Rescue says.

The building had previously been used to perform abortions, in addition to offering family planning and other gynecological care. When and if the building is reopened, the same services will be offered.

"We will continue to move forward to see that women have their rights," Julie Burkhart, who worked with Tiller's clinic for eight years on political and legislative issues, says. "It's incredibly important because women in this region need access to good medical care."

Women in the Wichita area have had to travel at least 150 miles to Oklahoma City or Kansas City for abortions since the clinic closed.

The Trust Women Foundation Inc., headed by Burkhart currently owns the single-story; nearly windowless clinic building that sits between a highway and a neighborhood of single-family homes.

Burkhart says that Tiller's murder spawned formation of the organization with the goal of reopening a clinic. It took 2-1/2 years to plan a new clinic, look for possible locations and raise money to buy the building, she said.

"This is absolutely one of the most difficult things I have had to do in my life," the 46-year-old Burkhart says. "I have a lot of brave people working with me."

In the past, the clinic was the site of constant picketing. Burkhart's home has also been picketed and she has been referred to as a killer in anti-abortion brochures, she said.

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