Em-URGE-ing Voices

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Kansas Opens Its Doors For Women’s Health

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June 19, 2013

It is with great pleasure that I am able to write about the recent opening of a full service* women’s health clinic including: STI Testing & Treatment, Contraception, Plan B, Well-Woman Exams, Medical & Surgical Abortion, Pregnancy Confirmation, Abortion Counseling, and much more in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas.

The South Wind Women’s Center LLC opened nearly four years after the hate-driven murder of Dr. George Tiller, a hero and champion of all women. Julie Burkhart, director of Trust Women and former colleague of Dr. Tiller, saw this huge gap in health care services for hundreds of thousands of Kansas women and did something about it.

Knowing the centrally conservative nature of my city, I can only imagine how difficult and intimidating it would be to reopen this clinic in the wake of its violent history. Opening the clinic is just a first of many struggles that the center will encounter. A source, and friend, inside the clinic said that since opening, the protesters have not caused huge problems, but one needs only to look back into the recent past to see that this may not be the norm forever – Summer of Mercy

I was still living in Wichita at the time of Dr. Tiller’s death and closing of the clinic, and I remember the controversy over what to do with the building. Dr. Tiller’s family was in charge of handling the clinic. Among talks of reopening was the proposal to turn it into a memorial for all the “lost souls.” The Times reported that “his old building was chosen as the site not because of the symbolism, but for its layout, she says, which works better for patients and doctors than other buildings in the area.”

Since talks began about reopening the clinic, anti-choice groups in the area have been trying everything in their power, such as trying to rezone the area and filing false complaints to building inspectors, to shut down the reopening process. Catholic schools have been known for excusing absences or even giving extra credit for protesting the clinic in the past.  Hopefully they have moved past this tactic of indoctrinating our youth to protest something they may not even truly understand the consequences of, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Picketing an organization you disagree with is one thing, but threatening violence is something unacceptable. For this reason, the identities of the three doctors who are working for the clinic are kept secret, only one of which resides in Kansas and the other two have to be flown in because of such dangerous and harmful consequences of being a champion of women’s health. It’s a high price to pay, and for that I am grateful that they do it.  It saddens me that not everyone can be protected from zealots who only promote fear mongering. Unfortunately not everyone can be protected, and Julie Burkhart and her private residence are targets of picketing and intimidation.

Even as the clinic is still in its inception, I know that many women’s lives will be bettered as a result of the brave work that workers and supporters of this clinic do. Here’s to many safe years doing it!

*The clinic is not currently performing late-term abortions as Dr. Tiller was known for.

As a self-sustaining clinic, they are always needing donations, and I urge you to do so knowing how truly difficult it is to get quality and safe health care in my state. http://www.crowdrise.com/fundraise-and-volunteer/the-team/Letsgetthisclinicopen


Amanda Schulze is a student journalist with Choice USA


South Wind Women’s Center Facebook

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