Embattled Kansas Abortion Clinic Closes as Provider Retires

The closure leaves the state with just three clinics that provide abortion care.

The closure leaves the state with just three clinics that provide abortion care. Aid For Women via Google Plus

A reproductive health-care clinic in Kansas City, Kansas, has permanently closed its doors, leaving the state with just three clinics that provide abortion care.

The retirement of Aid For Women clinic manager and physician Jeff Pederson led to the clinic closing its doors for the last time Saturday.

A message on the clinic’s website says that patients seeking abortion care are being referred to the remaining clinics in the area. “I am sorry for the trouble this may cause you. We thank you for showing your trust in us and will miss you and your heart-felt stories of family hardships,” the message states.

The three remaining clinics in the state are the Center for Women’s Health and the Planned Parenthood Comprehensive Health Center, both in suburban Kansas City, and the South Wind Women’s Center, which opened last year on the site of Dr. George Tiller’s former clinic in Wichita.

The closure comes at a time when Aid For Women has been a target of anti-choice state lawmakers and regulators.

In 2011, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment sought to require abortion facilities to adhere to new, more stringent building requirements. The regulations would have forced Aid For Women to close, as it was battling to keep its license under the new guidelines, but a federal judge blocked enforcement of the law.

Over the last several years Kansas lawmakers in the state have been passing bills to increase regulations of reproductive health-care clinics. These include a law requiring abortion providers to inform people seeking abortions that they’re ending the life of a ‘‘whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

The Aid For Women clinic also has been the target of Wichita-based radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue. The organization filed a complaint with the state Board of Healing Arts in 2012 alleging that the clinic failed to report child sexual abuse, which the clinic’s lawyers have denied is true.

In a statement after the closure, Operation Rescue President Troy Newman took partial credit for the clinic closing, saying that his organization “contributed [in part] to [Pederson’s] decision to retire and shut down.”

In 2009, Aid For Women also was the target of anti-choice violence. Scott Roeder vandalized the clinic on two separate occasions, just one week before killing Dr. Tiller in Wichita. Roeder was convicted of first-degree murder in 2010.

The closure further limits access to abortion care not just in the state but also in the region. In neighboring Missouri, there is only one clinic, which also has been the target of anti-choice state lawmakers. Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, a recently signed law will likely close all but one of the abortion clinics in that state.

Clinic manager Jeff Pederson told the Associated Press that if people value having access to reproductive health care then they need to “step up” and join the fight.

“The generation of patients whom we have helped need to step up and carry the torch instead of assuming clinic workers will always fight their battle, the battle for the right to have safe, legal, easily accessible birth control and abortions, and without having to travel to a few enlightened Democratic States,” said Pederson in a statement provided to the AP.