"Tiller legacy" adherents wrong about Kansas law

01/27/2015 09:55

by Kathy Ostrowski

Last Friday was the fifth anniversary of the slaying of George Tiller, notorious for performing late abortions up through the ninth month of pregnancy. There were a number of stories lauding Tiller.

We learn from the Wichita Eagle that a joint media conference call from Julie Burkhart, Tiller's former Political Action Committee (PAC) director, generated the "Tiller legacy" tribute stories at NPR, MSNBC, Wichita Eagle, Salon, and other pro-abortion outlets.  These reports served several purposes: to portray Tiller as a hero, vilify pro-life legislation, and to promote the fledgling South Wind Women's Center (SWWC) abortion clinic. SWWC is run by Burkhart, using an Illinois fly-in abortionist, Cheryl Chastine.

SWWC is located in the same Wichita, Kansas, building Tiller occupied for decades. Reporters were informed SWWC hopes to expand to Oklahoma City and possibly beyond. The engine for the "Tiller legacy" media campaign is Burkhart, who ran Tiller's ProKanDo PAC from 2002 until 2009. The PAC spent over $2.4 million dollars to elect pro-abortion candidates, including former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (see details here).

After the Kansas State Healing Arts Board initiated legal actions to revoke Tiller's medical license for violating the Kansas post-viability abortion ban, Burkhart left for St. Louis to head Missouri ProVote, a pro-Obama / pro-abortion political activist coalition.  Within a year of Tiller's death, Burkhart had created a new group --the Trust Women PAC- with the mission of stopping pro-life legislation and increasing abortion businesses in the "underserved" Midwest and South.

When the Tiller clinic was still in business in 2009, the Kansas legislature passed additional "Woman's Right to Know"(WRTK) provisions aimed, in part, at the many women who were being led into late abortions to "resolve" their medically-challenging pregnancy.  The improved WRTK provisions included:

  • where to get free medical help, including perinatal hospice, for grave or lethal fetal conditions, and
  • a mandate that the clinic accommodate women who want to hear the fetal heart tones or see a current sonogram before obtaining an abortion.

This WRTK law requires the state health department to prepare medically-accurate pregnancy and fetal development materials in booklet form and available online, and to maintain a 24 hour phone hotline. Of course, according to Burkhart, this is just another "measure designed to shame and guilt" women, and burden clinics.


Based on several of her statements recorded in a May of 2014 Salon article, the 32-year old Chastine seems especially uninformed about Kansas' WRTK abortion law. She said, "It feels like there's a third party in the exam room that doesn't belong there, and I'm very clear with patients when I tell them that. I tell them, 'The state wants me to tell you this. ' I don't try to hide the intrusion. I make sure that they know so that they can understand how their care is being influenced by unnecessary legislation."

Chastine is quite emphatic about giving SWWC clients a rebuttal to information that she wrongly believes Kansas law requires her to "tell"
abortion clients. But Kansas does not require the abortionist to say anything.

WRTK information was in fact designed as an out-of-clinic resource to both counter misconceptions relayed by abortion personnel as well as remedy a lack of relevant information preventing a woman from a freely formed abortion decision. WRTK laws offer a counterpoint to a rushed, forced, and irrevocable abortion, which is why abortion clinics hate them so.

Salon interviewer Katie McDonough further prods Chastine with this: "Kansas is passing legislation designed to shame patients and place barriers to access in their way. I'm thinking of the 24 hour waiting period here, which is both intended to be a logistical barrier but also an insult to a patient's intelligence....You probably see people who have come a long way, who have saved up, who taken off work - and you then have to tell them, "I can't do this for you today. You have to wait 24 hours..."  To which Chastine responds, "That's extremely frustrating... I tell the patients...I trust you as a moral decision-maker, and I'm sorry that the state doesn't do the same."

The reality is that Kansas' 24 hour period of reflection is nothing new. It was passed seventeen years agoMoreover,  it does not require two onsite clinic visits and, in all likelihood, women generally don't make two trips to a Kansas abortionist.

They can call the abortion business, tell them their estimated age of pregnancy, get told via phone or clinic website where to access the state materials, and make one appointment. The fact that pregnant women can stay out of the clinic and contemplate medically accurate materials is to their benefit and to the detriment of the abortion clinic's bottomline.

A legal Kansas abortion does require the woman to sign a paper that she accessed WRTK info 24 hours before undergoing the abortion. Hopefully, each woman does attentively review the WRTK info (including ultrasound images)-especially those who are young, conflicted about abortion, or being coerced. Past testimony to Kansas legislative committees, as well as letters to the U.S. Supreme Court, have expressed the negative effects upon women who did not recognize the humanity of the unborn until years after experiencing an abortion.

Chastine maintains abortion is a "decision" morally equivalent to delivering a child. "The people who are having abortions and people who give birth are not different people; they are the same people. And they make both of those decisions with their full moral decision-making capacity and for the same reasons."

That kind of messaging may impress the SWWC staffers who (we are told) have graduated college with gender or women's studies degrees. Those viewing everything through a lens of "patriarchal repression" may also agree with Chastine's opinion that, "I am very, very terrified of the rollback in access to reproductive healthcare...because the people who suffer from this are the most vulnerable in our society and the most voiceless."

The rest of us think that the most vulnerable and voiceless are the unborn.