Crime & Courts

Citing protests at office park, landlord sues doctor planning to offer abortions

The owner of a southeast Wichita office complex is going to court this month to try to keep a Wichita doctor from performing abortions in space she leases there.

The lawsuit filed by Foliage Development, which owns the Harry Street Office Park at 9916 E. Harry, is seeking a temporary restraining order that would prevent Mila Means from performing abortions in the building.

The lawsuit said Means' plans to begin offering abortions later this year already have prompted protests at the building, which is near Harry and Webb Road.

The lawsuit said three tenants have announced plans to leave the building if the protests continue.

"The intermittent presence of demonstrators, protesters and police officers is unsettling to my staff and to clients visiting my office," wrote the president of an engineering firm who has leased space in the building since 1993. "I simply cannot operate a professional business with these continuing distractions."

Means did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Wichita's only abortion clinic closed in May 2009 after George Tiller was fatally shot by anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder.

The lawsuit, which was filed by Foliage Development president Keven Daves, said Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group based in Wichita, already has begun targeting the complex where Means works.

Operation Rescue president Troy Newman said his group has organized two protests at the complex, including one in December that drew more than 100 people.

He said he anticipates that the protests will increase in intensity if Means begins performing abortions there.

The lawsuit said Means asked her landlord last fall for permission to perform abortions in the building.

In a letter to her dated Dec. 20, the lawsuit said, she was told that performing abortions in a multi-tenant building would be a disruption to the building's other tenants and would constitute a violation of the terms of her lease.

Nonetheless, the lawsuit said, Means told the landlord "she was proceeding with her plans to perform abortions in the premises; that she is undergoing training in Kansas City; and that she intends to start offering abortions in the premises in 2011."

A hearing on the request for a temporary injunction has been scheduled for Feb. 15 in Sedgwick County District Court.