Campaign declaring Wichita the “Abortion Capital” causes a stir among civic leaders

Wichita, KS — The Wichita Eagle published a story along with a huge, page-wide photo about Operation Rescue’s billboards along I-35 in Oklahoma that declare Wichita the nation’s “Abortion Capital.” The story mentions that the Greater Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau has received some phone calls from people concerned that the billboards might give Wichita a bad name.
“George Tiller is the one who has given Wichita a bad name,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who moved OR’s offices and staff to Wichita from Southern California to battle Tiller. “The city’s reputation has been further harmed by the fact that so many local companies enable Tiller to continue to his late-term chills-killing operation here by doing business with him.”
Operation Rescue has published the names of the “Top 50 Abortion Collaborators” — Wichita businesses that profit from the deaths of innocent children at Tiller’s world famous abortion mill.
“We believe people have a right to know who is in bed with the abortion industry. Men and women of conscience do not want to spend their money supporting such businesses or communities,” said OR spokesperson Cheryl Sullenger. “We encourage people to contact the abortion collaborators and the Greater Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, and voice their concerns about their support of George Tiller’s late-term abortion business.”
Greater Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau
100 S. Main, Suite 100, Wichita, KS 67202
Voice:(316) 265-2800; Toll Free: (800) 288-9424
Fax: (316) 265-0162
President & CEO John Rolfe:
Vice President Olivia Reynolds:
View Abortion Collaborators List
A new campaign about Wichita
To some, Air Capital is ‘abortion capital’
BY RON SYLVESTER, The Wichita Eagle, March 20, 2006
“Wichita: Abortion Capital of the World.”
That’s the message on two billboards south of Oklahoma City on I-35.
The billboards, facing northbound traffic, were put up by the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue West, which said it paid $1,000 each for the signs. The group gathered donations to pay for the billboards and hopes they will discourage others who share the opinion from patronizing Wichita.
“We’re hoping to establish these billboards on all the major routes leading into Wichita,” Operation Rescue West’s Troy Newman of Wichita told The Eagle.
Newman’s targets are familiar: Women’s Health Care Services and its doctor, George Tiller, who is recognized internationally as a specialist in late-term abortions.
“By Tiller’s own admission, they do more late-term abortions than anywhere in the United States, possibly the world,” Newman said. “It has become an epicenter of the pro-life fight.”
Olivia Simmons of the Greater Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau said Wichita has been a focal point of the abortion debate since the “Summer of Mercy” protests in 1991.
Simmons said she didn’t expect the billboards to make any more of an impact on visitors to the city, or related businesses such as lodging, shopping and eating, than other notorious stories, such as the BTK serial killer.
“I think people who see the billboards have already made up their minds on where they stand on the issue,” Simmons said. “We’ve gotten a couple of calls from people worried that there might be a negative impact. But we survived BTK, which was an international news story, and we’re moving ahead and growing as a progressive city.”
The Operation Rescue West billboards show a newborn baby and a pensive young woman under the banner “Abortion: One Dead, One Wounded.”
Newman said the Oklahoma billboards want to steer those who oppose abortion rights away from visiting Wichita.
“We also want to give the women driving up from Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma about 2 ½ hours to think about what they’re doing, and maybe change their minds,” Newman said. “People come from all over the United States to have abortions here.”
The director of a Kansas abortion rights support group called the billboards an intimidation tactic.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Julie Burkhart of ProKanDo, “that some people try to intimidate and shame others for making difficult and responsible decisions about their lives.”
Reach Ron Sylvester at (316) 268-6514 or