Students organize abortion protest at South Wind Women's Center

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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WICHITA, Kan. -- Anti-abortion activists came face-to-face Friday with those in support of the South Wind Women's Center.

The two groups were separated physically by the Center's short driveway but separated ideologically by a mile.

"Women and their families deserve to make private medical decisions," said Julie Burkhart, Executive Director of the South Wind Women's Center.

"We know (abortion) is wrong and immoral," St. John's High School student Katie Greenwood said.

Four years after Dr. Tiller was killed, the abortion debate is heating up in Wichita again. That's in large part because of the reopening of the women's center earlier this year.

Katie Greenwood and her classmates at St. John's Catholic High School in Beloit, Kan. organized the protest that took place outside the women's center Friday.

"We want to spread what this (center) is to other people in our world," Greenwood said.

It's the sixth year they've organized a similar protest but the first time they've worked to make it a national event.

Greenwood says she worked to contact Catholic schools across the country.

"We've been in touch with South Carolina, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin," Greenwood said. "We have 18 schools confirmed and there are probably many more we don't even know about."

U.S. Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) joined the students in protest of abortion at the women's center.

"It is simply wrong and we are standing up for what we believe in," Huelskamp said. "It's just exciting to see so many young people involved in this issue."

But supporters of the women's center did not appreciate his presence there.

Many of them said it was the latest example of the misguided "political grandstanding" that's taken over the debate.

"There are people who are in great need and when a politician comes here and puts one person's religious belief over other people's religious beliefs, that's a travesty," Rabbi Michael Davis said.

Both sides recognized the women's center driveway where the protest took place isn't the end of the road in this debate.

They say it is just latest stop along what promises to be a long road ahead.

"When this clinic came to the community again and provided the services women need to participate fully in the community, I was very proud of that. I cherish it. I protect it. And, I will continue to do that," said Liz Carson, President of the Wichita chapter of the National Organization of Women.

"The pro-life movement is consistent and we are persistent. We will not rest," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. "We will be here until every baby is safe from abortion and every abortion clinic is closed."

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