Back in January, I posted this Rachel Maddow Show video: Despite murder threats by anti-abortion extremists, new clinic aims to serve Kansas women.
As “illegal, violent, threatening behavior” continues from anti-choice, right wing zealots, a few very brave (read: heroic) physicians and their staff have dug in their compassionate heels and are following in Dr. George Tiller’s equally heroic footsteps. If you’re not familiar with him or his work, here is a brief recap:
Because he was one of the few doctors in the nation to perform late-term abortions, Tiller had long been a target. He was shot in both arms in 1993, and his clinic was bombed in 1985. Called “Tiller the Baby Killer” on national TV, he wore a bulletproof vest and rode in an armored car. He was gunned down as he served as an usher at his church one Sunday morning.
Scott Roeder was sentenced to life for assassinating Dr. Tiller, whose clinic, renamed South Wind Women’s Center, will now reopen under heavy security after shutting down for four years. Julie Burkhart bought the building last summer through her foundation, Trust Women; she was Tiller’s spokesperson and political liaison for seven years.
The passage of new restrictive laws makes the reopening of the Wichita clinic all the more remarkable, said Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, a New York nonprofit research organization that supports abortion rights.
Burkhart struggled with the idea of returning to Kansas, but finally made the move saying, “Why should I or any other woman have to go without medical service and be deprived of our rights just because of where we live?”
She was able to get a couple of doctors to agree to work at the clinic, but they have to jump through insane hoops just to get to work without their lives being endangered:
Every other week a driver will pick her up at an undisclosed airport, and she has been told to lie down in the back seat so no one will see her. “It would be much easier not to do this. That’s what almost everybody says, so that’s why I will,” [one doctor] said.
No late term-abortions will be done at the clinic, only up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. Other gynecological health services will also be offered.
Burkhart knows her life could be in danger. She worries most for her 12-year-old daughter’s safety in their home. Protesters have been there twice. Last month one held up a sign: “Where’s your church?”
Burkhart sees it as a reminder that Tiller had been killed in his church. Neighbors have been given wanted-style leaflets that say: “Let’s bring Julie to the Lord.“
She takes her strength from Tiller’s memory. “He used to say he felt he owed it to women. He would say, ‘Everyone needs a little help sometimes.’” She figures it’s her turn.
Burkhart is another real hero, as opposed to the nutcases who aggressively threaten and harass physicians who are legally doing their jobs by providing women with the care they need…
…as opposed to these people: $$ for Dr. Tiller’s assassin- For sale: Abortion clinic-bomber’s prison cookbook.
“Pro-life” my ass.