- (Photo: AP / Charlie Riedel, file)
A clinic once owned by late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller has been officially reopened, nearly four years after Tiller's murder at the hands of a pro-life, anti-government extremist.
Although Tiller was known as a late-term abortion provider, the clinic, newly dubbed the "South Wind Women's Center," will perform abortions only up to the 14th week of pregnancy.
Julie Burkhart, former Tiller employee and head of the Trust Women Foundation which purchased the clinic facility last year, told Reuters the reason for the limit.
"It's just our comfort level. It's where our doctors want it," said Burkhart, who also told Reuters that the clinic did not perform any abortions on Wednesday, the first day of operation since 2009.
In May 2009, controversial late-term abortion provider George Tiller was shot and killed by Scott Roeder during a church service where Tiller was serving as an usher. The incident brought condemnation and shock from both sides of the abortion access debate.
With Tiller's murder, his Wichita-based clinic, known as "Women's Health Care Services" and founded in 1975, temporarily closed down. By June 2010, Tiller's widow and owner of the facility announced that the clinic would permanently shut down.
In a statement released by the Tiller family attorney, family members said they would be "ceasing operation of the clinic and any involvement by family members in any other similar clinic."
In September 2012, the pro-choice Trust Women Foundation purchased the property. The Trust Women Foundation's website lists among its goals to "open clinics that provide abortion and maternal health care; full spectrum reproductive health care."
Mark Gietzen, president of the Kansas Coalition for Life, released a statement in response to the news saying his organization would start up the daily protests of the site that they performed when Tiller was alive.
"KCFL volunteers intend to be on-site to offer financial help, housing, and other forms of direct support to abortion-bound women who feel forced into having an abortion by circumstances beyond their control," said Gietzen.
Upon its opening on Wednesday, Gietzen stated that his organization would not start picketing the site until abortions were performed there.
"We are calling it a soft opening … We will be out there in full force when they start doing abortions," said Gietzen to Reuters.
As the clinic reopens in Wichita, in Topeka state lawmakers are considering expansion of what The Associated Press called "a sweeping anti-abortion bill."
Kansas lawmakers recently added language to the bill banning abortion based on gender preference. This proposed legislation already would block abortion provider access to tax breaks and participation in sex education classes.