A new clinic offering abortions and other women's medical services saw its first patient Thursday in the Wichita building where a slain Kansas abortion provider had practiced.
The South Wind Women's Clinic opened nearly four years after Dr. George Tiller, one of the nation's few doctors performing late-term abortions, was gunned down in his church by an abortion opponent in May 2009.
The shuttered facility was bought by an abortion-rights group, Trust Women Foundation, which reopened it as a family and women's health center offering abortions and other health care services.
"We have been working a long time, really hard to get this open to provide services to women in Wichita," said Kerry Townsend Jacob, the group's spokeswoman.
Townsend Jacob cited privacy rights in declining to say whether the first patient, a Wichita woman, had an abortion or some other medical service. She also refused to say how many appointments have been scheduled so far.
Tiller was one of the few remaining physicians in the nation who did late-term abortions, but South Wind Women's Clinic does not plan to do abortions beyond the 14th week of pregnancy.
The Trust Women Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by Julie Burkhart, who worked with Tiller for seven years. The foundation bought the property from Tiller's wife in August.
Troy Newman, president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, called the Wichita clinic's opening "symbolic" for abortion rights advocates.
"For me, we are winning across the board," Newman said, a reference to scores of laws seeking to restrict access to abortion passed by Republican-controlled legislatures during the last few years.
In Kansas, legislators on Thursday were preparing for final votes on a sweeping anti-abortion measure that would block tax breaks for abortion providers and outlaw abortions performed solely because of the baby's gender.