July 17, 2006 — -- If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em.
That's the tactic that an anti-abortion group in Wichita, Kan., took when it boasted about its purchase of a former abortion facility building and subsequent plans to convert it into a memorial for aborted fetuses.
Operation Rescue bought the former site of Central Women's Services weeks after the abortion clinic sold its equipment and closed the doors -- a tactic used before by similar groups that may increase.
The clinic, which also offered pregnancy tests and Pap smears, had been planning to close its doors for several months, clinic affiliates said.
The last surgical procedure was performed May 2, and the clinic had an equipment sale on May 22. The facilities were sold on June 28.
The phone line, which had not been turned off when Operation Rescue took over the building, was rerouted to an abortion-alternative organization until it was shut off.
Troy Newman, the spokesman and director of Operation Rescue, said that by rerouting the phone line his group had dealt the clinic its final blow. He maintains his group shut Central Women's Services down.
"We've been keeping our eye on it and praying it would come up for sale," he said. "And it did."
The town now has a single abortion provider, Women's Health Care Services.
Mark Pederson, office manager for Kansas City-based Aid for Women, which provided doctors who performed abortions at the Wichita clinic, said the clinic closed because no doctors had been available to continue administering the procedure.
"This had nothing to do with Operation Rescue," he said in a written statement. "It's a little bit like closing the barn door after the horse has left the barn."
Buying and then eventually evicting or taking over the site of an abortion clinic is a well-known but rarely utilized tactic, Newman says.
In 1993, a group called the Pro-Life Majority Coalition of Chattanooga outbid a Tennessee abortion provider for ownership of a facility that had been the town's only provider of abortions.
The site is now a crisis pregnancy center and the National Memorial for the Unborn.