Tiller's Former Clinic Undergoing Renovations in Attempt To Reopen

January 9, 2013 — A Kansas clinic formerly operated by abortion provider George Tiller, who was fatally shot by an antiabortion-rights activist in 2009, is undergoing renovations to comply with state regulations as its new owners prepare to reopen it, the AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Hegeman, AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/8).

Wichita has not had an abortion provider since Tiller's murder. The Trust Women Foundation, which is led by former Tiller employee Julie Burkhart, has been working to re-establish a clinic to provide abortion services. The foundation became the sole owner of the building last fall (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/26/12).

Robert Eye, an attorney representing the foundation, on Tuesday said that contractors are remodeling the building to make sure hallways and interior spaces are large enough to comply with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's new regulations for abortion clinics (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/8).

The regulations -- which apply to any facility that performs more than five elective abortions monthly -- are part of a new state law that requires abortion clinics to obtain an annual license. The rules mandate that each abortion clinic have a medical director who is a physician and that all physicians who provide abortion care have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The rules also set various building and staffing requirements, specify drugs and equipment that must be kept on hand, and require that patients' medical records be available at the state's request (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/6/12).

Petition Seeks To Block Reopening

On Tuesday, abortion-rights opponents held a news conference to announce a petition asking the Wichita City Council and the local planning commission to rezone the area so the clinic cannot open. The event, which was organized by Kansans for Life, drew about 50 abortion-rights opponents, including several state lawmakers.

In a statement, Burkhart called the effort "another attempt to limit access to reproductive healthcare for the women of Wichita and Kansas." She added, "Regardless of their actions, we will continue to bring quality and comprehensive obstetrics and gynecological services to Wichita" (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 1/8).