Computer tablet displaying the word "Abortion" with a stethoscope draped over the corner

Kansas abortion clinic halts services, with no set date to restart

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Rachel Mipro

(Kansas Reflector) One of the region’s few abortion providers has stopped services, citing staff and protocol changes for what it says will likely be an “extremely short-lived hiatus.”

Even the temporary halt could disrupt the region’s fragile network of providers, many of whom have faced increased demand and struggle to keep up with demand in the wake of federal overturn of Roe v. Wade.

PROMO Map - Kansas State Map - iStock - PeterHermesFurian

© iStock - PeterHermesFurian

The Wichita-based Trust Women clinic will resume services after hiring a new medical director, according to Sapphire Garcia, who became the organization’s president May 13. Garcia said she was optimistic that a new medical director could be quickly secured.

“We don’t have a specific timeframe,” Garcia said. “We are really hopeful that this will be extremely short-lived. And to that end, we’re working to get a qualified medical director in place. We have been consulting with experts on clinical structure, and we’re working as quickly as we can to get those things in place.”

Garcia said the hiatus was a decision made “proactively, not under duress” — despite reporting from Rewire News Group alleging staff controversy over recent firings and questions about the former medical director’s qualifications led to mass resignation. Garcia, known as the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Kansas Birth Justice Society, assumed her position little more than a week before the news broke.

“Nothing nefarious has happened,” Garcia said. “But anytime an organization goes through a transition like this in leadership, it’s prudent to stop and pause and reflect on the resources that we currently have, what we might need, and to take that pause before moving ahead.”

The Trust Women Foundation Board of Directors released a statement Thursday saying new protocols have been put in place, such as requiring a medical director with abortion experience be present when abortions are performed. The board said changes in personnel would not be addressed due to privacy concerns, a message echoed by Garcia.

“We are committed to those who seek abortion care, particularly where access is a barrier and we insist that patients receive not only competent care but care delivered in a responsible and equitable way,” read the statement.

Since the federal overturn of abortion protections in 2022, Kansas has become one of the few sanctuaries in the region for abortion seekers.

A Kansas Supreme Court ruling in 2019 determined the state’s constitutional right to bodily autonomy includes the right to terminate a pregnancy, and Kansas voters in August 2022 overwhelmingly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate that right.

Abortions in the state are generally allowed up to 22 weeks of gestation, and abortion seekers from out of state have flocked into Kansas for services. The state’s last released abortion survey showed a large increase in out-of-state abortion seekers for 2022.

The Wichita clinic served more than 4,000 patients in 2023, a majority of whom came from out of state, according to its report. With Trust Women temporarily halting services, patients will be routed to other providers. Kansas has five other centers that provide abortions.

“Kansas is an island of access in a sea of no access,” Garcia said. “And so the stakes are high here. We understand that.”

Kansas Reflector is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Kansas Reflector maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Sherman Smith for questions: Follow Kansas Reflector on Facebook and Twitter.