Kansas is known for being the sepia-toned state that serves as the portal to Technicolor Oz, for the Jayhawks being pretty okay at basketball most of the time, and for being replete with busybody jerkoffs when it comes to a woman's right to her own body. The state has made no effort to hide the fact that it's attempting to circumvent Roe v Wade by erecting a complicated web of red tape between pregnant women and abortion services. Kansas is the site of the murder of Dr. Tiller, of revoking licenses for abortion providers for no discernible reason, and for intimidating medical professionals out of performing the duties of their profession.
There is now one abortion provider left in Kansas, and while things may seem bleak for the prospects of women in The Sunflower State, the a new woman standing in the battle will be a tough one to defeat.
The New York Times reports today on Dr. Mila Means, a Kansas doctor who bought much of Dr. Tiller's equipment and has set up shop in Wichita. The locals are unhappy with this development, and the doctor has received death threats and warnings to check under her car in the morning before she heads to work, as someone fixated on Saving The Precious Human Cell Clusters! may have placed an explosive there overnight. Means, however, is unfazed.
..the last doctor to provide abortions here was shot to death because of his work. But rather than lower her profile, Dr. Means raised it by buying a car that nobody could miss: a bright-yellow Mini Cooper, emblazoned, appropriately enough, with lightning bolts.
"It's partly an in-your-face response," she explained. "You're looking for me. I'm here."
Holy shit. Her car's like the Batmobile, but her Boy Wonder is a woman's right to choose. Feminism is her co-captain!
But wait! She's not quite the steel-nerved freedom fighter of the pro-choice movement's dreams. For one thing, Dr. Means decided to become an abortion provider partly out of economic necessity,
She looked at the finances of her solo family practice and figured she might be the poorest doctor in the state. Though she lives modestly, she has had continuing problems managing money: her credit card companies have taken her to court, and her checks occasionally bounce. Determined to work alone, she did not have enough patients to cover the bills.
Abortion rights opponents love to parade out the myth that abortion doctors are all about the Benjamins and I'm sure they'll try to paint Dr. Means as a money grubbing baby smashing lady manipulator.
Dr. Means hasn't always been a supporter of abortion rights, either. Ten years ago, she interviewed for a position at a crisis pregnancy center, which is anti-choice code for "a place that convinces women considering abortion that they should go through an unwanted pregnancy, because an 8 week old is literally a baby that can talk and think about Christmas and stuff."
The Kansas powers that be are doing everything they can to keep her from practicing. She's currently undergoing training and seeking to lease space in which she can start her practice. No one will rent to her.
Furthermore, licensing red tape means that she won't be able to provide abortions for another 12 to 18 months.
Anti- choice radicals, meanwhile, seem convinced that they'll prevail over Means as they prevailed over Tiller,
Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, based in Wichita, said that abortion opponents were committed to blocking another clinic here, and that the level of protest facing anyone who participated in such an efforts would be "beyond anything anyone could imagine." He spoke with particular disdain for Dr. Means.
"We will ensure that this community remains abortion free," he said.
So, is Operation Rescue going to invest a ton of money to make sure that all sexually active women have access to low cost, convenient birth control and that all men in Wichita are taught to use condoms every time they have sex? And they've developed a birth control method that is 100% fail proof, every time?
Didn't think so. At the root of its mission, Operation Rescue seeks to punish women.
Dr. Mila Means may not be the fearless, unblemished motivated-by-passion-for-women's-rights abortion provider of the pro choice community's dreams, but for now, she's standing up against unbelievable pressure and vows to continue working to realize her vision of opening a clinic that will provide abortions to the women of Kansas.
Keep fighting the good fight, Dr. Mila Means.