Commentary Abortion

Wichita Anti-Choice Leaders Raising Funds for Multi-Million Dollar “Pro-Life Memorial” As Children Suffer From Budget Cuts

Kari Ann Rinker

In the midst of an economic crisis worsened by its "pro-life" Governor's own policies, Kansas may be getting a great-big Liberace-esque multi-million dollar “pro-life memorial.”  A group led by Wichita anti-choice terrorist leaders, Mark Rotola and Mark Holick, has embarked upon what they are calling an “ambitious project,” but would more aptly be dubbed a monument of their perceived victory by assassination.

In the midst of tax and budget cuts so severe they are poised, in the words of former Kansas Republican Chairwoman, Rochelle Chronister to take the state to the edge of a “finanical cliff,” Kansas is in a serious crisis. Referring to a recent tax bill signed, sealed, and delivered by Governor Sam Brownback, Chronister stated:

“The governor has taken us to the financial cliff, and only he has the ability to stop us from going over.  This is not a game. The magnitude of this bill cannot be overstated, and the impact that it will have on our communities and schools will be real and unforgiving.” 

That impact is already being felt as, for example, deep cuts are made in social support programs and state spending, putting vulnerable children at risk. Shannon Cotsoradis President of the child advocacy group, Kansas Action for Children, said further tax cuts, “will have devastating consequences for Kansas children and families.” 

Ms. Cotsoradis has been watching Governor Brownback and his administration closely this session as attempts have been made to strip children of vital programs and services at every turn. In response to the tax bill Kansas Action for Children said in a statement

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A new report produced by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy shows that the only income group that will see their taxes increase under the tax bill recently signed by Gov. Sam Brownback are the poorest 20 percent of Kansans, those with an average income of just $11,000.

That group will pay about $148 more in state taxes, while the wealthiest 20 percent of Kansans will see their tax burden drop $21,087 on average. This tax plan will begin to negatively affect the Kansas budget as soon as next year. By 2018, the bill is expected to cost the state $4.5 billion.

Yet while Kansas children may not be getting social support, what the state is getting is a great-big Liberace-esque multi-million dollar “pro-life” memorial for which millions of dollars are being raised. A group led by Wichita anti-choice leaders, Mark Rotola and Mark Holick, has embarked upon what they are calling an “ambitious project,” but would more aptly be dubbed a monument of their perceived victory by assassination. Wichita is the location of the life, work and ultimate assassination three years ago this past May of Dr. George Tiller, a physician that provided abortion care here. The announcement of the memorial was released just one week after the third anniversary of his murder in his own church.

Dr. Kris Neuhaus was a colleauge of Dr. Tiller’s, and the physician who provided the second opinions required by Kansas law for women seeking safe abortion care later in pregnancy at Dr. Tiller’s practice, Women’s Health Care Services.

As an abortion doctor, Dr. Neuahus has been the object of terrorist intimidation. As such a physician and as a friend of Dr. Tiller’s, she has strong feelings about the proposed “memorial.” She told Rewire:

At a time when many of its parishioners may be having trouble paying their mortgages and wondering how to survive massive layoffs, this church wants to erect a massively expensive monument to their victory in the murder of Dr. Tiller. Kansas’ career anti-choice activists are literally salivating over a “one of a kind” tourist attraction rivaling the Creation Museum, to drive an influx of cash and the credulous.

The following is a copy of Mark Holick’s press release obtained by Rewire:

Wichita, Kansas will become the home of the National Pro Life Memorial and International Life Center. A large tract of land has been secured at 37th. St. North and North Meridian in Wichita, Kansas to construct the center. An international fund raising effort has been launched. The facility will be operated as a tax exempt 501C3 entity.

Among other things, the Memorial will consist of the National Pro Life Monument entitled “Not Forgotten.” An exact replica of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and memorial gardens are included as a place of healing for women and families. Additionally, sixty crosses will be strategically placed on the grounds to memorialize the sixty million babies aborted since Roe v. Wade.

The International Life Center facility will include among its activities a 24 hour a day International Pro Life prayer center. An international crisis pregnant hotline and clearinghouse will offer counseling and referral services for women to pro life services in their local communities. Family counseling and job counseling services will also be available.

The International Pro Life Institute will be housed at the center. The International Pro Life Institute’s focus will be preserving, promoting and protecting the unborn and families against the international Holocaust being promoted by governments and individuals (including the United States) against the unborn. 

The pamphlet attached to the email goes on to state that the Pro-Life Center “will stop the world wide genocide” and will “generate 500,000 visitors yearly.” In a recent interview about the proposed monstrosity Mr. Rotola stated,

I thought it would be great if Wichita could develop a brand new reputation as the “pro-life capitol of the world”.  

This ambition to be the best of the absolute worst among national and now international anti-choice policy, rhetoric, and terrorist action is a recurring theme within Kansas. This kind of “my pro-life is bigger than your pro-life” culture, has produced and encouraged the Phil Klines and Scott Roeders of the world. This culture was the impetus for Representative Lance Kinzer’s 70-page omni-bus abortion bill

And with Brownback, it of course emanates from the highest office in the state. As “pro-life” Brownback makes devastating cuts and even moves to further cut the state’s budget, he has accepted an invitation to speak at this year’s National Right to Life Convention. In February, he also spoke at a Kansans for Life Breakfast, where he stated:

“Kansas is a pro-life state and we’re not going back …”

“My hope is that Kansas moves forward to become the most pro-life state …”

“This is the state that has led in these moral battles in the past …”

“That’s our legacy. It’s also our heritage and it’s our gift to this state and to this country and to this world. To lead us out of this chapter of darkness. And we can do this. There is no reason we can’t do this.”

“… how about us competing with other places on life? We’re going to be the top pro-life state in the country …”

The backers of this memorial have a reputation for local harassment and clandestine connections with former Attorney General Phil Kline. They also have a history of failed endeavors. Mark Holick was a major backer of Personhood Kansas. In spite of numerous legislative attempts at Personhood, they all failed during the 2012 session. So, will this memorial prove to be yet another failure for Rob Rotolo and Mark Holick? That remains to be seen.

It might be easy to blow this off as just another pathetic media grab, but the men behind the project claim to have enlisted a Washington, D.C. group to raise funds worldwide.  Kansas has long endured anti-choice terrorism. It has survived and even thrived here. Here’s to hoping that this proves to be a failed endeavor and the life, legacy and memory of Dr. George Tiller is left to rest in peace. 

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