Archive for Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Abortion rights activist plans to open new abortion clinic in Wichita

July 12, 2011, 2:13 p.m. Updated July 12, 2011, 5:24 p.m.


— A woman who once ran the political action committee for high-profile abortion provider George Tiller is raising funds to open a clinic in Wichita, where he was murdered more than two years ago.

Julie Burkhart, now executive director of the St. Louis-based lobbying group Trust Women, said Tuesday she hopes to open a clinic that offers first-trimester abortions and other women's health services in Wichita in about a year. The group is trying to recruit a qualified doctor.

"Wichita is a spot that has been targeted by the anti-choice movement relentlessly for the past 20 years and we have to be able to stand our ground and say enough is enough," Burkhart said.

Although much-touted plans by others to open abortion clinics in Wichita after Tiller's death have yet to come to fruition, Burkhart's efforts are being taken more seriously by some longtime abortion opponents who call her "Tiller's right arm and his fundraiser." They saw Burkhart turn Tiller's political organization in 2002 into the state's top- spending PAC.

"We take it a little more seriously when Julie Burkhart says she is going to do it," said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life.

Since Tiller's death and the trial of the anti-abortion activist convicted of killing him, Kansas has more recently drawn national attention for a new law requiring abortion providers to obtain a special annual license and accompanying health department regulations. Those are part of a wave of restrictions enacted across the country as abortion opponents capitalized on the election of Republican governors or GOP legislative majorities.

Tiller, one of the few doctors in the nation to provide late-term abortions, had been a target of both peaceful and violent protests long before his murder. He was shot and wounded in both arms in 1993 by an abortion opponent and his clinic was bombed in 1996. He was shot to death in May 2009 by another anti-abortion activist while he was serving as an usher in church.

No abortions have been openly performed in Wichita since Tiller's clinic was closed following his death. The three clinics in the state that provide abortions are all in the Kansas City area, about 200 miles from Wichita.

Burkhart said Trust Women has already raised in pledges about 25 percent of the half a million dollars needed to open the clinic. She declined to name her backers but said they included individual donors and a few foundations. She also said that security issues were the top priority to assure the safety of the medical staff.

Culp said Burkhart has the financial contacts and the backing of national abortion-rights supporters.

Others have made similar efforts in Wichita. Dr. LeRoy Carhart, who once performed abortions in Tiller's clinic, vowed shortly after the Kansas doctor's death to open a clinic in the city but instead decided to expand his Nebraska clinic to other states. More recently, Dr. Mila Means has said she wants to offer abortion services at her Wichita practice and is forming a nonprofit group to buy a building for the clinic.

"Everybody wants to raise money — but nobody is doing anything," said Troy Newman, president of the Wichita-based anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.

Newman dismissed Burkhart as "pretty much irrelevant."

"There are doers and there are talkers. Doers are the abortionists and then there are the talkers, they are just the proponents ... Julie Burkhart is just a low-level talker, that's all she is."

Newman said the clinic regulation measure is going to be the biggest deterrent for anyone opening an abortion clinic in Kansas.

The new health department regulations for abortion providers specify what drugs and equipment clinics must stock, require them to give the agency access to their medical records and set requirements for room sizes and temperatures. Two of the state's three abortion providers sued after they were unable to meet the new standards, and a federal judge has blocked the rules until their lawsuit is resolved.

But Burkhart said her history and her knowledge of Kansas will help her in Wichita.

"We know the lay of the land and in these times it is important to know the lay of the land," Burkhart said.

She noted that Kansas law now allows abortions after 22 weeks only on a very limited basis, and said her group has no plans to offer later terminations of pregnancies.

In a separate lawsuit, a federal judge on Tuesday set a hearing for Aug. 1 on a request by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri for a temporary injunction blocking the state from cutting off its federal funding.

The Planned Parenthood chapter went to court over a state budget provision preventing it from receiving $331,000 in federal money for family planning. The money can't be used to finance abortion services, but abortion opponents have sought to cut off all funds because a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park performs abortions.


Brock Masters 6 years, 11 months ago

Ah, finally Brownback is bringing jobs to Kansas.

1029 6 years, 11 months ago

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deec 6 years, 11 months ago

No, let's get 'em born so they can starve slowly when their parents can't afford to care for 'em and SRS services are inaccessible/unfunded!

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 11 months ago

If you believe that, then you must also believe that shutting down SRS services and making them inaccessible is also "baby murder". because face it, sooner or later a kid is gonna die. Right? Amiright?

Brock Masters 6 years, 11 months ago

"Are you kidding me?" Uh, hello, yes, I am kidding you. Sheesh, you are so blinded by your desire to fight sin that you miss the irony/satire of the statement.

Let me break it down for you. Brownback has touted an economic agenda while campaigning but has failed to create jobs and instead has focused on a myopic social agenda. He is adamently anti-abortions so, it is ironic that a new business coming to Kansas is one that offers abortions.

Follow now?

Brock Masters 6 years, 11 months ago

As a matter of fact I am kidding you. It is ironic that Brownback has not brought any jobs to Kansas except perhpas a new abortion clinic.

rtwngr 6 years, 11 months ago

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somebodynew 6 years, 11 months ago

It is the "extremely late term" that makes it different. Something to do with actually breathing and living for awhile, but I could be confused.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 11 months ago

Nope, wngntr is confusing babies with fetuses again.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

The problem rtwngr has and the problem those on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum is that no one can define when it becomes human. I feel certain that the day before birth, while still in the mother's womb, that is a human. Two days before birth, yes, a human. Three days before birth, yes again. I feel equally certain that the day after conception, that is not a human being. Two days after, nope, not human. Three days, nope. I've heard terms like viability used. That's a hard concept to hang your hat on because you're dealing with with what doctors can do in a scientific environment that changes daily. And there's the common sense notions of quality of life and what does that mean to you or to me. I recall reading a book detailing fetal development while my wife was pregnant. Looking at pictures of what the fetus looked like at various stages of development and comparing those pictures to the fact that abortion was permitted on what looked like human beings was disturbing. It's disturbing when I hear people tell tales of young girls being raped by relatives. Though rare, sure, these young women should be allowed to abort. Then I hear stories of abortion being done for gender selection. Equally rare and equally disturbing. In the end, this is a very complicated problem and I suspect that those on either extreme are less likely to hold the answers than those in the middle.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

Your last sentence is probably true for most, if not all, issues.

pizzapete 6 years, 11 months ago

Well that sure takes a lot of courage. It seem to me that when it comes to denying women their rights our homegrown fundamentalists have a lot in common with the Taliban. It's good to see that someone is standing up to their intimidation.

youngjayhawk 6 years, 11 months ago

Kudos to Trust Women; may Dr. Tiller's work continue!

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 11 months ago

Dr. Tiller killed children in the seventh, eighth, and ninth month of pregnancy--your support of this brutality is shocking!

LeannL 6 years, 11 months ago

This article should be titled: 'Pro-Choice Providers' not Abortion Rights Activists. Abortion is legal and an individual decision protected by law. Kudos to Trust Women!

karrin 6 years, 11 months ago

Isn't a doctor a key component for a clinic? Why won't the doctors who have previously announced their intentions to provide abortions in Kansas working with Ms. Burkhart? And why is this even a story? I can plan to open a dentist office and if I don't have a dentist, the capital or a facility...the point is kinda lost.

Romans832 6 years, 11 months ago

"Abortions have not been openly performed in Wichita since Tiller was shot to death in May 2009."

Begs the question whether abortions have been performed secretly (opposite of openly). If it's truly a service to women, why is it hush-hush?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 11 months ago

Just guessing, but medical procedures are private.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

If you can't figure out why doctors in Wichita are reluctant to openly perform abortions after a doctor who did so was killed for doing just that,...

MattyPro12 6 years, 11 months ago

Or they don't want to be murdered by right wing zelots because they perform a LEGAL medical service that said zelots get their panties in a bunch over.

ivalueamerica 6 years, 11 months ago

Doctors and their patients make medical decisions, not priests and politicians.

Ralph Reed 6 years, 11 months ago

Not according to the right-wing and Brownback.

Olympics 6 years, 11 months ago

Brownback is using Kansas taxpayer money to hire Koch Brothers' legal team to go after Planned Parenthood. He could use the state attorney general as a defense counsel at no extra cost to Kansas taxpayers.

Stay classy teabaggers/Republicans/ChristianFundamentalists/C-street nutjobs.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

Careful - your misogyny is showing.

Romans832 6 years, 11 months ago

jafs, what part of Doppleganger's statement is misogyny? If you do not believe there is an emotional expense to abortion, check out and

On both, you will find testimonies of women who regret their abortion.

I believe Doppleganger's choice of words is accurate: abortion has many unintended expenses, and the emotional expense is a large part of it.

jafs 6 years, 11 months ago

Your statement is probably true, but it's not what he said.

His post was a response to the one immediately above which criticized Republicans/etc. and was clearly meant as a criticism of women.

deec 6 years, 11 months ago

I hate to tell you this, but sometimes women get pregnant on accident. Like, they enjoy sex and the condom broke. Or it was a one night stand. Many women, like many men, sometimes just have sex for fun and pleasure. No emotional involvement needed.What kind of man doesn't always use protection to avoid causing pregnancy?

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 11 months ago

Hear that Mary Kay? it's the sound of what you fear the most; pro choice money coming to the state. Maybe, just maybe, we can buy a better governor than you and the Koch's did. The right wing always b***hed about how "Tiller bought Sibelius". If that's true, I don't see that it was any different than what you and your friends are doing. Maybe it's time to fight fire with fire and start pouring the same cash into the state that you and your ilk have used to buy yourself a government. I doubt the Koch's will bankrupt themselves for you. If they have to start actually putting up significant cash to fight this they will cut their losses and, like any other good business, leave your butt hanging in the wind. This is the best news I've heard in a long time. makes me feel like it's actually possible the cavalry is coming. (That's a lot better than Brownback's "Calvary", let me tell ya.)

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm curious to know what you mean by "people like me"; like I'm some kind of welfare cheat or fraud or something. I'm disabled and retired. I don't get a dime from SRS or any of it's programs. I live on what I've earned in the past of almost fifty years of employment and I still pay taxes on that money. If I say I am ok with spending that tax money on SRS, Planned Parenthood, food, shelter and safety for the poor, the disabled, children and the elderly, don't you think I have a right to? Don't you think I also have a right to donate to those things I agree with? I think you need to wake up and realize there are more "people like me" out there than you may realize.

mloburgio 6 years, 11 months ago

Unintended Pregnancies Cost Taxpayers $11 Billion A Year

A new study by the Guttmacher Institute, a leading reproductive health research and advocacy group, estimates that unintended pregnancies cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $11.1 billion dollars a year. Nearly two-thirds of unintended pregnancies -- roughly a million births -- are publicly funded by Medicaid and other government programs, the report shows.

The day abortion becomes an unguestionable right: is the day men become pregnant!

mloburgio 6 years, 11 months ago

The day abortion becomes an unquestionable right: is the day men become pregnant!

my bad.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 11 months ago

@Newby In 1926 the USS Constitution (Old Ironsides) was saved and restored from what was called a "Penny Campaign". I know that abortion and old navy vessels are two wildly different things but it illustrates what small amounts donated by a large number of people can do. There are a number of disadvantages of relying on the donations of concentrated wealth. One of course, is the boycott, although it's never really been an effective way of achieving political gain. I personally boycott the Koch's but realize it's only for my own peace of mind. The idea of funding a company that does what the Koch's do is just personally distasteful. More effective is fundraising from small grass roots donors like myself. Like the penny campaign, get enough of us together and our dollars can be a force to be reckoned with. And here is the disadvantage of relying on a large corporate donor. Yes, a large single donor can up their contribution to meet the threat of the penny campaigners, BUT, as I stated in my post above, let it get to the point that they are actually having to donate significant amounts of cash to maintain status quo and they will cut their losses and leave and go find another state (and governor) to exploit.
Can you imagine the Koch's taking over a state like Oregon? Not in your wildest dreams. Oh they could. Oregon has oil and natural gas and cattle ranches out the kazoo. But the cash outlay they would have to spend to buy that government wouldn't be worth it. Kansas was cheap. But the fact that Kansas was cheap makes it easier for "penny campaigners" to fight back. This is the 21st century. People need to wake up and figure out that governments are being bought and sold like companies on the stock exchange. Given that, me and people like me have to start acting like small time investors or by god we're going to lose the things we value the most.

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 11 months ago

Killing and dismembering the unborn should never be a right or upheld as a social good. Indeed, it is a brutal violation of the human rights of those who have their lives destroyed. Thank God for Brownback and all of our pro-human rights lawmakers who oppose these killing centers!

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