Elections

Anti-abortion group endorses Wichita mayoral candidate

Sean Hatfield, candidate for Wichita mayor (2015)
Sean Hatfield, candidate for Wichita mayor (2015) The Wichita Eagle

Kansans for Life Political Action Committee has endorsed Sean Hatfield for Wichita mayor, according to the group’s website.

“I’m a pro-life, pro-family conservative,” Hatfield said. “My faith plays a role in my everyday life, but it’s just an important issue all around, faith or not. It’s an issue of life. It’s an issue of protection of the unborn who should be protected under the law.”

Hatfield said he was interviewed by the PAC’s board and he referred to a statement he made on his Facebook page about the endorsement, which says, “The protection of the God given right to life from conception to natural death is a fundamental role of government and central to the relationship between government and the people.”

He would not talk about how he might affect access to abortion in Wichita if he were elected, saying every issue needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. However, he emphasized that he is a “vocal pro-life advocate.”

Access to abortion is legal in Kansas.

“I’d like to see that changed in the future at the state level,” he said.

City government has been involved in past conflicts between anti-abortion advocates and those seeking to provide abortions.

In 2013, the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission voted against initiating the rezoning of physician George Tiller’s former clinic at 5107 E. Kellogg to block a new clinic. The rezoning had been sought by Kansans for Life, which presented nearly 14,000 signatures in support of it to the Wichita City Council.

The push to rezone came after a group called Trust Woman announced plans to open South Wind Women’s Center, which offers comprehensive women’s health care services including abortions up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, at the same location.

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

Kansans for Life PAC also recommends voters consider candidates Sam Williams and Jeff Longwell for mayor.

“My core values and beliefs are always going to be represented in how I act and behave,” Williams said.

“Having said that, federal law is federal law and I have to be in compliance with law ... But if I have the opportunity to have a say in what law will be, my core values will always be at the forefront of how I make decisions.”

Jeff Longwell and his wife are Catholics and abortion opponents who are active at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, he said. His view on abortion is “not one that typically is ever going to impact policy” on the local level, he said.

“I’d certainly never run from my faith,” he said.

In referencing the zoning issue in 2013, Longwell said that was ultimately up to the planning commission and that locations of all businesses have to be considered by the commission.

Next Tuesday’s primary will narrow the field of 10 mayoral candidates to two ahead of the April 7 general election.

Reach Kelsey Ryan at 316-269-6752 or kryan@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @kelsey_ryan.

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