For the second time this year, representatives from several Kansas anti-choice organizations are urging the Wichita City Council to consider re-zoning the area in which the South Wind Women’s Center operates, a move that would force the newly opened women’s health clinic to close.
According to the Wichita Eagle, individuals from Kansans for Life, Operation Rescue, the Word of Life Church, and the Kansas Coalition for Life argue that the area should be re-zoned to disallow abortions, citing incidents of gun violence that occurred when Dr. George Tiller’s clinic was open in the location that South Wind now occupies. The groups also cited “the unwillingness of South Wind’s security to communicate with them to ‘diffuse violence’ before it occurs” as well as “graphic signs” that children can see if they pass the clinic.
Individuals affiliated with some of these anti-choice groups have been known to protest with graphic signs at the clinic. It is believed that the convicted killer of Dr. Tiller, Scott Roeder, has in the past had ties to Operation Rescue. And Word of Life Church Pastor Rob Rotola was last year involved in a “pro-life memorial” project with Mark Holick, who is currently under a temporary restraining order amid allegations of stalking South Wind Director Julie Burkhart. Holick is said to have pointed a sign at Burkhart’s home that said “Where’s your church?”—an apparent reference to the murder of Dr. Tiller, which occurred at Tiller’s church.
When South Wind opened in April, the clinic brought abortion access back to Wichita for the first time in almost four years, since Dr. Tiller’s clinic closed after his 2009 murder. In 2011, Dr. Mila Means intended to start providing abortion care at her Wichita clinic, but her landlord threatened to evict her if she did. It was also reported earlier this year that a Kansas prison inmate claimed domestic terrorist Angel Dillard asked him to firebomb Means’ home.
The Wichita City Council turned down a previous re-zoning request in February. A Kansans for Life representative said at the time that the council would have approved the request had a blizzard not stopped more people from showing up in support of the measure.