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Doctor plans first Wichita abortion clinic since Tiller murder

Dr. Mila Means was raised in a family that considered abortion an accepted, reasonable idea. Her schoolteacher parents, social activists in the 1960s, instilled that attitude early in her life.

"I was in the ninth grade when my father told me if I were pregnant before I was 18, I would have an abortion," Means said.

That upbringing, and what she calls a non-mainstream approach to her medical practice and her personal life, guided the decision she made about a year ago to try to perform abortions in a city that hasn't had an abortion clinic since physician George Tiller was murdered by Scott Roeder in May 2009.

Means plans to form a nonprofit. She hopes to raise $800,000 to $1 million to buy and equip a clinic where she can provide early-term abortions. She would like to open it in 12 to 18 months.

Her desire to open a clinic comes as the climate for abortion clinics in Kansas grows increasingly prohibitive. Republican lawmakers, encouraged by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, passed several laws this year further restricting abortion, including one with new licensing requirements for clinics.

Means has been the subject of a lawsuit; has received mail that was investigated by the U.S. Justice Department; and has had anti-abortion protesters show up at her office in southeast Wichita, at her farm in northern Sedgwick County and at office buildings she has looked at as potential abortion clinics.

Wichita-based anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue says it will do everything it can to prevent the opening of an abortion clinic.

Means, 54, a longtime Wichita family physician, had publicly been quiet about her plans until recently, when she decided to step into the spotlight by granting interviews to media outlets, including the New York Times.

She wants to draw attention to an event Friday night at the church where funeral services for Tiller were held. She will appear as part of a panel to discuss what organizers call "the intersection of religion, politics, abortion and terrorism."

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