First Women’s Health Center of its Kind to Open in 40 Years
The Trust Women: South Wind Women’s Center became the first women’s health center that offers abortions to open in the state of Oklahoma in 40 years.
For the past two years, reproductive rights activist and CEO of the Trust Women Foundation and Trust Women: South Wind Women’s Center Julie Burkhart has been working to bring abortion services to Oklahoma City. In a statement, she described the process of opening the facility like “pushing a boulder up a mountain.”
— Oklahoma Lottery (@LotteryOK) September 12, 2016
“I think one’s opinion about abortion is very personal and everyone is entitled to their own opinion about abortion,” Burkhart said in a statement. “However, we don’t agree that a small minority of people should be making the decisions for the majority.”
There have been 20 new anti-abortion laws signed by Governor Mary Fallin since 2010. Senate 1152, which would make it illegal for physicians to perform abortions in the state, was also proposed recently, but was vetoed in May.
“While I consistently have and continue to support a re-examination of the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, this legislation cannot accomplish that re-examination,” Fallin said in a statement.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) hasn’t issued a license for an abortion provider since the 70’s. After months of delay due to having the clinics license denied by OSDH, Burkhart was able to move forward.
“If a step is missed or there is a delay in meeting a certain criteria [sic] it pushes the process back or places it on hold, ” Corey Robertson in the OSDH Office of Communications said. “The clinics license was approved on Aug. 31.”
There are now three licensed abortion clinics open in the state located in Norman and Tulsa, with the new facility opening in Oklahoma City.
“I’m quite pleased about it, we haven’t had something like this available to women in this city in a while,” sophomore Mindy Rosebeary said.
Before the clinics opening, Oklahoma City was the largest metro area in the United States without an abortion provider. The center expects to treat about 1,500 patients in their first year.
“It’s pathetic that people care more about a fetus than a woman’s health and right to a safe procedure,” Rosebeary said.
— Julie Burkhart (@julieburkhart) September 21, 2016
Burkhart worked beside Dr. George Tiller for seven years as the Chair for the Wichita Choice Alliance in Wichita, Kansas. Tiller ran one of three facilites to perform late term abortions in the country. He was fatally shot in the side of the head by an anti-abortion extremist while ushering at his church in 2009.
His practice had also been fire-bombed in the past, and he’d been shot in the arms by another extremist five times. The clinic closed after his death, but Burkhart said she believed it would be unconscionable for the city to be without an abortion clinic. She then founded Trust Women, re-opening the clinic with safety measures in place and Tiller’s picture hanging in the entryway.
The South Wind Women’s Center in Oklahoma City is now seeing patients and is located at 1240 S.W. 44th St.
“Just because we live in a more traditional, conventional part of the county it doesn’t mean people don’t deserve their rights,” Burkhart said in a statement.