WICHITA, Kan. -- Some say Gov. Sam Brownback's remarks during his State of the State address went too far.
On Wednesday, Gov. Brownback listed important moments in Kansas history. He named the anti-abortion protests among a list that included the end of slavery and mistreatment of Native Americans.
"The Summer of Mercy sprung forth in Kansas, as we could no longer tolerate the death of innocent," he said.
The Summer of Mercy protests occurred in 1991, drawing thousands of people to a late-term abortion clinic in East Wichita. That clinic was operated by Dr. George Tiller, who later was killed by an anti-abortion activist in 2009.
""Governor Brownback’s remarks during the State of the State comparing the Summer of Mercy to Bleeding Kansas are completely reprehensible," said Julie Burkhart in a statement.
Burkhart is the founder and executive director of Trust Women and the South Wind Women's Center.
Summer of Mercy in 1991 and Summer of Mercy Renewal in 2001 fostered a culture of violence in Wichita, Kansas that led to clinic bombings, an assassination attempt, and ultimately the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in 2009," said , founder of the . "By praising Summer of Mercy, Governor Brownback is condoning violence against doctors, clinic staff, and patients."
Elise Higgins, manager of government affairs at the Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri, agrees.
"The violent anti-abortion rhetoric that started during the Summer of Mercy ultimately lead to Dr. Tiller's assasination and to praise that event, I think is a mark of the governor's extremism.
However, Mark Gietzen said the governor's remarks were accurate. He was in Topeka for the speech, and he was among the protesters at Summer of Mercy.
Gietzen helps organize on-site protests at the abortion clinic with the Kansas Coalition for Life.
"It's one of the most excellent State of the State addresses that I have ever heard," he said. "An important moment in Kansas history. Then did we not only become a strong pro-life party, we continued on. All those people that we signed up as precint workers then went out and helped us do voter registration."