WICHITA, Kan (Reuters)- Closed since 2009 after its doctor was murdered, one of the country's most embattled abortion clinics is scheduled to reopen this spring over renewed objections of abortion opponents.
Controversy over the clinic in Wichita, Kansas is building as the country observes the 40th anniversary on Tuesday of the Roe vs. Wade U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal in at least the first three months of pregnancy.
An abortion rights group bought the building where George Tiller was among only a few doctors in the country to do late-term abortions before he was gunned down at a Wichita church. Scott Roeder is serving a life sentence after testifying that he killed Tiller, 67, to stop abortions.
Tiller owned the clinic and his family decided to close it down and withdraw from any involvement there after his murder.
Anti-abortion groups are trying to block or delay the reopening of the clinic through a rezoning petition and complaints to the city that permits haven't been issued as required for the clinic's indoor remodeling.
"Once they get the permits we'll be off to the next thing - we will try to persuade contractors not to work there," said Cheryl Sullenger of the Wichita chapter of Operation Rescue.
The attempted roadblocks cast in front of the clinic before it even opens are not discouraging leaders of the organization that bought the building, where abortions, family planning and other gynecological care would be offered.
"We will continue to move forward to see that women have their rights," said Julie Burkhart, who worked with Tiller's clinic for eight years on political and legislative issues. "It's incredibly important because women in this region need access to good medical care."
Since the clinic closed, women in the Wichita area have had to travel at least 150 miles to Oklahoma City or Kansas City for abortions.
Burkhart directs a non-profit organization called Trust Women Foundation Inc, which now owns the single-story, nearly windowless clinic building that sits between a busy highway and a neighborhood of single-family homes.
Tiller's murder spawned formation of the organization with the goal of reopening a clinic, Burkhart said. It took 2-1/2 years to plan a new clinic, look for possible locations and raise money to buy the building, she said. Burkhart is braced for persistent opposition.
"This is absolutely one of the most difficult things I have had to do in my life," said Burkhart, 46. "I have a lot of brave people working with me."
The clinic was the site of constant picketing. Burkhart's home has also been picketed and she has been referred to as a killer in anti-abortion brochures, she said. http://news.yahoo.com/controversial-kansas-ab...
Odds some rightwinger guns her down?