Crime & Courts

Physician won't offer abortions at offices

A Kansas physician has agreed not to perform abortions at the space she leases in a southeast Wichita office complex, delaying a lawsuit by her landlord, according to court documents made public Monday.

Mila Means, the physician, asserts in the documents that she is not performing abortions at the site and does not presently intend to do so. Means said she is seeking alternative office space for her medical practice. She also agreed to give Foliage Development 30 days' notice if she later decides to perform abortions, so that a hearing on a temporary injunction could be held.

Foliage Development owns the Harry Street Office Park at 9916 E. Harry — near Harry and Webb — where Means practices.

The development company had filed a lawsuit earlier this month arguing that performing abortions at the multi-tenant office building would be a disruption and nuisance to other tenants and create an unsafe environment. Following the agreement with Means, Sedgwick County District Judge Douglas Roth dissolved a temporary restraining order and canceled a hearing for a temporary injunction that had been scheduled for today. All court proceedings in the case were stayed for six months.

"She is not performing abortions at that site at the time being and really doesn't intend to and is looking for alternative space, so there wasn't much of a reason to have a hearing," said her attorney, Lee Thompson. "The attorneys were able to resolve that by agreement for the time being, preserving everyone's rights if down the line it becomes an issue again."

Abortion services haven't been offered in Wichita since George Tiller, one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers, was killed by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder in May 2009. A spokesman for Means' practice has said she never intended to perform late-term procedures.

Thompson, who also represented Tiller before his death, said Means is not considering locating her abortion practice at Tiller's vacant clinic.

Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, who had been subpoenaed by the landlord to testify at the injunction hearing before it was canceled, had organized demonstrations at Means' medical practice after it became public that Means was planning to offer abortion services in Wichita.

"Abortion is bad for business. It is bad for property values," Newman said.

"You are going to have me and my truck and signs and people chanting and graphic pictures of aborted babies out front. You will have lease holders canceling their leases and moving and ultimately your property will be devalued for the foreseeable future because there is an abortion clinic there."

Newman called the agreement between Means and her landlord "a victory for the movement" and said his group did not plan any further demonstrations at the Foliage Development complex as long as she was not performing abortions there.

Kari Ann Rinker, state coordinator for the National Organization for Women, has previously blamed anti-abortion groups for encouraging harassment of Means. Rinker did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday.