WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri has begun offering the abortion pill at its Wichita clinic, becoming the second facility in the city to provide the abortions since Dr. George Tiller was gunned down in 2009.
Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Bonyen Lee-Gilmore said Wednesday that the clinic has been taking appointments and scheduling the procedure. Abortions can be done using medication up to about nine weeks.
“I think this is a very proud moment for Planned Parenthood to be able to say, ‘We’ve done it. We’ve expanded that access. We’ve given women one more option when they are making this decision,'” she said.
Expanding access to abortion services in a “restrictive landscape” such as Kansas — particularly to health centers in outlying areas — is the vision of the affiliate’s president, Laura McQuade, Lee-Gilmore said.
Wichita did not have any abortion clinics for four years after Tiller’s clinic was shut down following his death. An abortion rights group, Trust Women, bought his building and opened the South Wind Women’s Center in 2013, offering reproductive care, including abortions up to 14 weeks.
Last week, Planned Parenthood announced in a press release what it called an extensive expansion of health care services across the state by adding transgender care, menopausal care and an HIV prevention program. But it made no mention in that release of the addition of abortion services in its Wichita clinic. Instead, Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Wichita began quietly doing the medication abortions on March 17.
The move, which Planned Parenthood posted on its website, went largely unnoticed until the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue says it received a copy of a letter Planned Parenthood had sent to health providers in Wichita soliciting referrals for their new abortion services in Wichita. Operation Rescue, which based in Wichita, was first to make public the clinic’s new abortion services in emails to media outlets and its supporters.
“It is a little disappointing for us because at one point there were no active abortion centers in Wichita for like four years — then South Wind opened and then this,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior vice president for Operation Rescue.
The new abortion services offered at Planned Parenthood’s Wichita clinic brings to up to four the number of clinics in Kansas now offering abortion services, including Planned Parenthood’s clinic in the Kansas City suburbs of Overland Park that has long done medication and surgical abortions.
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