The XX Factor

Anti-Choice Activists Want to Know: Are Workers at a Kansas Abortion Clinic Asking to be Shot?

A memorial in front of the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas, where Dr. George Tiller was gunned down

Photo by Kelly Glasscock/Getty Images

Things had been good for Wichita, Kansas, anti-choice fanatics in the years since one of their own forcibly closed down the town’s sole abortion clinic by shooting its doctor dead in the middle of his church. With Dr. Tiller gone, the anti-choicers didn’t have to spend so much time endlessly protesting and obsessing over his clinic, giving them more time for quiet contemplation about how liberals and feminists will destroy civilization with all their genital-touching. But now there’s a new clinic in town where Dr. Tiller’s used to be, and irate anti-choice groups are petitioning the city to have it shut down.

Their reasoning is that the clinic, the South Wind Women’s Center, provokes them into harassing the people going in and out of it, and because they understand that they are super annoying people, they would like the provocation taken away. 

Better yet, an intra-fundamentalist controversy has erupted over the question of exactly how provocative the clinic is. One group says that medical workers providing private abortion care are deliberately provoking gun violence and have to be stopped before some hapless responsible gun owner who brings a gun to an abortion clinic ends up in jail because a meanie doctor pushed him to murder. The other groups say that while they fully agree that the clinic is making them harass its workers and patients, it’s a step too far to suggest they’re pushing anyone to shoot at them. 

Mark Gietzen, head of the Kansas Coalition for Life, accused Julie Burkhart, the head of South Wind, of trying to get one of her workers shot: “I think she’s trying to provoke an incident so she can say, ‘Look, these pro-lifers did something,’ and people from California and New York and these other places will give her money.” After all, you know how those feminists are always looking for the chance to pull at liberal heartstrings while they bleed out to death. 

Meanwhile, other anti-choice groups are saying that while they fully agree the clinic workers are forcing anti-choicers to harass them, they’re probably not forcing anyone to kill them. 

Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser at Operation Rescue, said linking a zoning debate to concealed guns and violence at abortion clinics is inappropriate. She said while Operation Rescue and KCFL have similar goals they aren’t working as a formal coalition.

“I never mentioned gun violence in my comments to the City Council. I don’t think I would have done that,” Sullenger said.

Sullenger should know. She has been able to refrain from resorting to violence since 1988, when she was sentenced to three years in prison for attempting to bomb an abortion clinic, a plot that was only thwarted when the bomb failed to go off. If she can spend 25 years clean-and-sober from violent attacks on abortion clinics, surely the rest of the anti-choice obsessives can, right? 

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: What about showing some personal responsibility, anti-choicers? What about accepting that a clinic’s mere existence is not actually provoking you to do anything, whether it’s shoot someone or merely yell invective at them as they go about their business? But personal responsibility is so 2012 (unless you are black). We’re in a new era now, where the mere existence of free birth control means you have to take it and abortion providers are making you harass them just by existing. Willpower is dead.