Clinic that will offer abortions in Wichita opens

The first medical clinic to offer abortions in Wichita since physician George Tiller was shot and killed opened Wednesday.

Sandra Criswell, communications director for Trust Women, confirmed that South Wind Women’s Center, which will offer comprehensive women’s health care services including abortions up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, opened Wednesday.

Trust Women founder Julie Burkhart said earlier this week that the clinic already had booked some appointments.

Burkhart, who worked for Tiller, founded Trust Women after Tiller was shot May 31, 2009, at his Wichita church by abortion opponent Scott Roeder.

Three doctors – two OB/GYNs and one family practice doctor – will work at South Wind in the same building where Tiller practiced. Tiller’s family sold the building near Kellogg and Oliver to Trust Women last year.

South Wind will offer referrals for women seeking abortions after 14 weeks of pregnancy.

“It’s a sad day for Wichita and a shame for the state,” said David Gittrich, state development director for Kansans for Life.

He said abortion opponents will protest at South Wind and offer women “life-affirming alternatives instead of life-taking alternatives.”

Burkhart said that South Wind is “here to serve the women of this community so they can make the best choices for themselves in consultation with their physician.”

She said in a “healthy society and community, women deserve to have a variety of options” that include terminating a pregnancy.

Wichita long has played a role in the nation’s debate over abortion. Because Tiller performed late-term abortions, he was a target of abortion opponents. His clinic, Women’s Health Care Services, had been bombed, and he had been shot before.

Burkhart is scheduled to be in court April 11 as she seeks a permanent protection from stalking order against Wichita pastor Mark Holick, whom she has accused of threatening her. In her petition for a stalking order, Burkhart said that protesters had been at her home with signs that asked “Where’s Your Church?” Because Tiller was killed at Reformation Lutheran Church, Burkhart said, she interpreted the sign as a threat against her life.

Kansans for Life tried unsuccessfully to get the Wichita City Council to rezone the clinic. The council declined to do so, as did the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.

Patients seeking appointments at South Wind may call 316-260-6934. South Wind will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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