Apr 01, 2020

Virus outbreak prompts push to close Kan. abortion clinic

Posted Apr 01, 2020 1:00 AM

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Wichita-area official wants to temporarily close an abortion clinic to curb the spread of the coronavirus that has sickened residents and staff at another Kansas nursing home.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Michael O’Donnell said Monday that he’ll ask the commission to strip abortion clinics from the list of “essential” businesses that can stay open during the pandemic, thus shuttering the Trust Women Wichita Clinic, The Wichita Eagle reported.

Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of the clinic, called the proposal “unethical” and “unconscionable.” The clinic replaced the practice of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller who was fatally shot by an anti-abortion activist in 2009.

“This is nothing more than a political tool they are using in order to shut down abortion,” Burkhart said.

O’Donnell presented the proposal even as federal judges temporarily blocked similar efforts in other states. He said women have been traveling to the Wichita clinic from out of state after the governor in neighboring Oklahoma issued a stay-at-home order last week that effectively bans most abortions.

“We should not be having women, and men, travel from other states, potentially bringing the coronavirus into Wichita,” O’Donnell said.

The Kansas Supreme Court last year declared access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state constitution.