Abortion clinic run by slain doctor bought, will re-open

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TOPEKA, Kan. — The shuttered Wichita abortion clinic formerly operated by Dr. George Tiller has been bought by an abortion-rights group that intends to reopen it as a family and women’s health center that will offer abortions, among other services, the group’s executive director said Wednesday.

Julie Burkhart said the Wichita-based nonprofit group Trust Women Foundation Inc. purchased Tiller’s former clinic in late August. Erin Thompson, an attorney for Tiller’s widow, Jeanne, confirmed the sale.

Ms. Burkhart, a former Tiller employee who also founded a separate Trust Women political action committee, has said for months that she was trying to raise money for a new clinic in Wichita. All of Kansas except for the Kansas City area has been without an abortion clinic since an anti-abortion zealot murdered Tiller at the doctor’s church in May 2009.

Tiller was among a few U.S. doctors known to perform abortions in the final weeks of pregnancy, but Ms. Burkhart said the new clinic won’t offer such services, largely because Kansas legislators have tightened restrictions on late-term procedures. But she said the new clinic will perform abortions earlier in pregnancy as part of a wide range of obstetrical and family care.

Ms. Burkhart declined to discuss the details of the sale, but property tax records available online list the appraised value of the property at $734,100.

Ms. Burkhart said she can’t say yet exactly when the new clinic will open or how many doctors will work there.

“It’s about more than abortion. We’re about serving the needs of women,” Ms. Burkhart said. “Thousands of women right now have to travel three hours-plus for medical services. It’s a burden on women. It’s a burden on women’s families.”

Kansas has three abortion clinics, all in the Kansas City area. The Wichita Eagle first reported the sale of Tiller’s former clinic, based on public records.

The limited liability company that owns the property, Kellogg Investments, filed a document Tuesday with the Kansas secretary of state’s office, listing a new agent, Topeka attorney Robert Eye, who declined to comment Wednesday.

The same one-page document lists the Trust Women Foundation as the only member of the company, and it is signed by Ms. Burkhart and dated Monday.

Kellogg Investments previously had been operated by the Tiller family, and after Tiller’s death, his widow was the only person listed as owning 5 percent or more of the company.

“The family is no longer involved,” Ms. Thompson told the Associated Press, saying she had no other details.

Abortion opponents have been watching for signs that a new clinic would open in Wichita, and earlier this months, anti-abortion groups said they expected Ms. Burkhart to open one early next year.

“It is tragic Burkhart appears poised to re-engage in destroying unborn children and exploiting women for money,” Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said in a statement Wednesday.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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