South Wind Women's Center founder Julie Burkhart sits in her office in Wichita, Kan. , Thursday, April 4, 2013. The new clinic offering abortions and other medical services to women saw its first patient Thursday, nearly four years after Dr. George Tiller was murdered. (AP)
The Kansas abortion clinic where Dr. George Tiller worked before his murder four years ago reopened on Wednesday.
Tiller, 67, was one of the few physicians in the country who performed late-term abortions. He was shot in his Wichita church on May 31, 2009 by Scott Roeder, who testified that he killed Tiller to stop him from performing abortions. Roeder is serving a life sentence in prison.
The clinic, which has been renamed the South Wind Women’s Center, will offer abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy even though abortion is legal through 20 weeks in Kansas, founder Julie Burkhart told Reuters. She said the "vast majority" of women seeking abortions obtain them within the first 14 weeks, and women who want later term abortions will be referred elsewhere.
"It's just our comfort level. It's where our doctors want it," said Burkhart, a former employee of Tiller's.
Three doctors -- two OB/GYNs and one family practice physician -- will work at the clinic, which will also offer other women's health services.
This photo taken Thursday, April 4, 2013 shows the recovery area in the South Wind Women's Center in Wichita, Kan. The new clinic offering abortions and other medical services to women saw its first patient Thursday, nearly four years after Dr. George Tiller was murdered. (AP)
“This is still a pretty tender time,” Burkhart told the Wichita Eagle. “Getting through the next six to 12 months will be very important for us. Opening a clinic, that’s not being done widely across the country. It’s really moving against the grain.”
The clinic did not immediately start performing abortions upon opening, though plans to begin next week.
Mark Gietzen, chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life, told Reuters his group did not plan to begin picketing the clinic until it started performing abortions.
"We are calling it a soft opening," Gietzen said. "We will be out there in full force when they start doing abortions."