Thursday night on “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed the re-opening of Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita, Kansas, the former clinic of slain physician Dr. George Tiller. Tiller was shot and killed by an anti-abortion extremist on May 31, 2009 in the foyer of his family church. Prior to his death, Women’s Health Care Services was one of three clinics in the entire U.S. that offered late-term abortions.
Julie Burkhart, founder of the Trust Women PAC and former colleague of Dr. Tiller welcomed “Maddow Show” producer Rebecca Dryden to the clinic for an interview and a tour of the soon-to-be re-opened facility. Using funds raised by the Trust Women PAC, Burkhart bought the clinic in the wake of Tiller’s murder.
“The plan is to open up a full-service women’s health center,” Maddow explained, “with everything from checkups and cancer screenings to abortion and everything in between.”
The building has been buzzing this week with contractors and other personnel who are working hard to get the clinic up and running again. Maddow said that her production team has worked to bring testimony and video from the people there in Wichita, but she cautioned that one person you will hear from, you will not see. That person is the doctor who will be providing abortions to patients at the clinic. She has asked that her identity be concealed for her own safety.
The doctor is not from Wichita, nor does she live in Wichita. She will be flying in twice a month to perform abortions, then flying out again. For the purpose of the video, her face and voice have been digitally altered.
Duvergne Gaines of the National Clinic Access Project said in the video that staffers believe they can feel Dr. Tiller’s positive energy still in the clinic. Clinic consultant Ruth Arick said, “There’s optimism everywhere, walking around here. It’s going to be wonderful.”
Burkhart told producers that the re-opening of the clinic in the same location is highly symbolic.
“From a personal perspective, as someone who worked here, this clinic really embodied love and compassion and justice, and, you know, good health care for women,” she said. “So that’s what I think about, is just, what we’re going to be able to bring back to the women of Wichita.”
Currently anti-choice activists are circulating fliers with Burkhart’s photo and contact information including her home address. The flier calls her an “abortion homicide promoter” and urges recipients to go to Burkhart’s home and harass her.
“The Rachel Maddow Show” did a series of special reports on Tiller’s murder, which came after years of demonization by the anti-abortion movement, including major media figures like the Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly, who spent months referring to Dr. Tiller on the air as “Tiller the Baby Killer” prior to his murder by Scott Roeder, a leader in the anti-choice movement. Tiller was shot in both arms by anti-abortion activist Shelley Shannon in 1993, and his clinic was firebombed in 1986.
Watch this clip, embedded via MSNBC, below: