Complaint: Remodeling on Former Tiller Abortion Clinic Illegally Proceeding Without Permits

UPDATE: OR has been notified by city officials that three inspections have taken place at the proposed South Wind Women’s Center. Those inspections found that the parking lot resurfacing does not meet ADA requirements and will have to be redone once they apply for permits. Other work that Burkhart said was already in progress has not yet begun. Burkhart has submitted a site plan for remodeling to the city. In addition, a full-sized incinerator was removed some time ago and city officials are trying to determine exactly when that work was done. Operation Rescue has confirmed that as far back as 2009, the year Tiller’s clinic closed, there have been no permits to have such work done. The Associated Press reported that inspectors found no violations, but our communication with officials obviously say otherwise.

Wichita, Kansas – A formal complaint has been filed with the City of Wichita against Julie Burkhart and two associated business entities, which presents evidence that remodeling and other work is taking place illegally at a proposed new abortion clinic in Wichita without the proper permits. The complaint requests that an infraction notice be filed and a cease and desist order be issued to halt all construction at the building.

An open records request made by Operation Rescue has uncovered that no permits have been applied for or issued for improvements on the structure located at 5101-5107 E. Kellogg, which once housed a late-term abortion clinic operated by George Tiller. The Tiller clinic closed in 2009 and stood vacant until being purchased by Burkart’s organization in August, 2012.

“The abortion clinic hasn’t even opened and already it is showing a disregard for the law and for the lives and health of women. If they can’t do a simple thing like pull the appropriate building permits, then they can’t be expected to obey the state’s abortion or standard of care laws, either,” said Cheryl Sullenger, Senior Policy Advisor for Operation Rescue who filed the complaint.

Building permits are required to ensure that the work is properly done and is safe. By refusing to follow the building codes, there is concern that safety may be compromised. The law provides for heavy fines for violations and even jail time in extreme cases.

Burkhart has been working to reopen the abortion clinic under the name South Wind Women’s Center and openly admits that remodeling is underway. Photos of improvements made without permits were submitted by Operation Rescue with the complaint.

“If this clinic is allowed to reopen, it is only a matter of time before their gross disregard for the law lands more women in the hospital emergency rooms just as Tiller’s abortion operation did,” said Sullenger. “It’s as sure as the sun rising in the east.”

Burkhart is a former employee of Tiller’s, which raises concerns that unsafe practices will continue under Burkhart. At the time of Tiller’s death, an 11-count petition was pending against him with the Kansas Board of Healing Arts for conducting illegal late-term abortions. His associate, Ann Kristin Neuhaus, had her medical license permanently revoked last year on a nearly identical Board complaint. Another former Tiller abortionist, Shelley Sella, has been charged with negligence related to a botched 35-week abortion in New Mexico. Disciplinary action is pending.

View the complaint