On September 10, the Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center opened its doors to patients in Oklahoma City. It’s the first new abortion clinic there in four decades, and it’s the only clinic in the city that offers medication and surgical abortion.
The clinic offers a range of reproductive and sexual health services—abortion and family planning, STI testing, hormone therapy, gynecological services and well-woman visits, contraceptive care and even some legal assistance and counseling. The clinic is fully staffed with doctors and medical professionals ready to provide care to women, families and trans individuals—and the community response shows that it couldn’t be more critical at this time.
“Our phones have been ringing off the hook in Oklahoma City, so obviously the public needs our services” says Julie A. Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women. While she wasn’t able to provide specific visitor numbers, she said in the first six weeks the clinic had seen a similar number of patients to their sister clinic in Wichita, Kansas, established in 2013.
“We want to be part of the solution to Oklahoma’s problems,”Burkhart told Ms., “such as teen pregnancy, child poverty and poverty among women—especially single mothers.” Despite that mission, however, Burkhart and her colleagues have faced backlash; there have been protesters outside the clinic every day.
The Trust Women foundation was formed in 2009 following the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, a physician who provided abortions, including late-term procedures, and was the recipient of much violence during his career. “The mission of Trust Women Foundation is to open clinics that provide abortion care in underserved communities so that all women can make their own decisions about their health care,” Burkhart said.
Oklahoma has passed the most restrictions on abortion in the country—and as a result, women in Oklahoma City went too long without access to proper reproductive and sexual healthcare resources they need. Burkhart made it her mission to intervene, knowing that what is at stake is, ultimately, women’s freedom.
“If women can’t control their own bodies,” she told Ms., “they can’t control much else.”