Dr. Tiller

Dr. Tiller

George Tiller would have been proud.

In May, 2009, Doctor George Tiller was assassinated while serving as an usher at his church in Wichita, Kansas.  Over the years, he had become known world-wide as the doctor who performed very late term abortions.  As a result, he and his staff became a target for anti-abortion zealots.  Indeed, years earlier he was shot in the arm as he was leaving his clinic but he survived and was at work the next day.  For such a soft spoken man, he became a lightning rod in the abortion “wars” and ultimately one of those zealots caught up with him.

Soon after his death, his clinic in Wichita – Women’s Health Care Services – was shut down by his family.  His colleague, Doctor Lee Carhart, publicly declared that he would try to fill the void left by Tiller’s death and would try to accommodate those patients who he would have treated had he lived.  So, Carhart started doing late abortions in Maryland.  Meanwhile, however, one of Tiller’s former staff people, Julie Burkhart, had another vision.

TrustWomen.org

TrustWomen.org

Working under the auspices of the “Trust Women Foundation,” Burkhart and her troops raised approximately $1 million with the thought of re-opening Tiller’s clinic.   They have been busy renovating the office, recruiting doctors, getting permits, etc.  The new clinic will offer many reproductive health services, including abortions up to 14 weeks.  The clinic is now called the “South Wind Women’s Center.”

Needless to say, at some point the local Operation Rescue folks heard about the plans and they suddenly have a new cause (and a new fundraiser).  They are now a constant presence at the clinic (even though no patients are using it yet).  They even photographed a plumbing contractor hauling two large trailers onto the building parking lot and they then posted the name of the contractor on their website, encouraging their troops to barrage his office with phone calls.  That’s just what they do and, at times, they can be very effective.

Abortion

Abortion

Then, Operation Rescue turned their attention to Wichita’s Planning Commission where they attempted to get the clinic property rezoned to prohibit it from opening.  Despite receiving thousands of letters and emails from pro-lifers, the Commission voted 6-4 against the rezoning request.  Talk about courage!.   It is possible, however, that the Wichita City Council could still decide to take up the rezoning request on its own so that battle is not over yet.

Ms Burkhart and her staff have cajones.   They could have sat back, held an annual vigil in Doctor Tiller’s name and gone on with their lives.  But Burkhart has Doctor Tiller’s same commitment to providing health care to women despite the dangerous climate.  And, yes, she has his guts.  As she recently said in an interview:  “We’re not going to be pushed around by the antis.”

They are facing daunting opposition.  And Julie knows better than anyone that her life is on the line, just like Doctor Tiller’s was.  But she and her tenacious staff are plowing forward.   They will not be bullied.

You go, girls!