An abortion clinic sitting in a residential area of Wichita, Kansas poses a safety hazard to the surrounding community, pro-life activists argued to the Wichita City Council this week.
Representatives from local pro-life groups, including Kansans for Life, Operation Rescue, Word of Life Church and the Kansas Coalition for Life, appeared in front of the Wichita City Council Tuesday to convince government officials to rezone the neighborhood surrounding South Wind Women's Center to prohibit abortions. The clinic is located on the city's eastside at Kellogg and Bleckley.
The pro-life representatives told city council that South Wind Women's Center poses a safety threat to the surrounding residential community, and employees at the clinics are often aggressive towards pro-life advocates seeking to provide pregnancy alternatives to women entering the clinic.
"Some of the clinic workers are aggressive and harassing toward the pro-life people who are attempting to offer help to abortion-bound women. An escalation of their hostile behavior has every possibility of spilling out into the neighborhood, causing a safety concern to residents along Bleckley," Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy advisor for Operation Rescue, one of the pro-life groups present at the meeting, told the council. "An abortion business does not belong in a residential neighborhood," Sullenger added, according to LifeSite news.
The pro-life groups also argued in a joint press release that it is inappropriate for schoolchildren commuting past the clinic to see protest signs depicting graphic images relating to abortion.
Kansans for Life previously attempted to have the South Wind Women's Center rezoned in February by delivering a petition of 14,000 signatures to the Wichita City Council. This petition was delivered before the clinic was opened by the local nonprofit Trust Women Foundation Inc. under the name South Wind Women's Center.
The petition for re-zoning was ultimately shot down when the Metropolitan Area Planning Commission voted 6-4 against rezoning the clinic. In order for the city council to now make a decision, it must send the rezoning request back to the planning commission. The city council can overturn a recommendation from the planning commission with a super-majority vote.
Julie Burkhart, the executive director of Trust Women, told The Wichita Eagle that she believes the true nuisance to the neighborhood is the pro-life groups who rally and protest in front of the clinic.
"The reason they cite is that we're a nuisance to the neighborhood," Burkhart told the local paper. "From our perspective, it's the anti-crowd and their protests that are the nuisance."
The South Wind Women's Center was formerly the site of an abortion clinic ran by George Tiller, one of the few late-term abortion doctors in the U.S. in the 1980's. While Tiller owned the clinic, it gained national media coverage as a hotspot for pro-life protests. Tiller was shot and killed by an anti-abortion activist in May 2009.
The city council has yet to respond to the request of re-zoning the clinic.