Wichita anti-abortion doctor’s nod to ‘principled’ 9/11 terrorists raises alarm

Katie Bernard/The Kansas City Star

Staff at Wichita’s largest abortion clinic are on high alert after the leader of a neighboring crisis pregnancy center encouraged anti-abortion activists and politicians to model their principles on those of the 9/11 terrorists.

Dr. Scott Stringfield, medical director of the Choices Medical Clinic located directly south of Trust Women’s Wichita clinic, made the comments at a recent March for Life rally at the state Capitol in Topeka, where abortion opponents celebrated the fall of Roe v. Wade and moved to regain their footing after a failed attempt to remove abortion rights from the Kansas Constitution in August with the Value Them Both amendment.

Stringfield called the 9/11 attack “a heinous act” but told March for Life attendees “you have to look at one thing. They (the terrorists) were principled. They were willing to die for what they believed in.”

He contrasted the terrorists’ “principled” approach to “pragmatism” — what he called making a decision based on what “benefits them the most or hurts them the least.”

“Some people who think they’re pro life, or consider themselves pro life, find themselves sticking a wet finger in the air to sometimes see which way the wind is going to blow before they make a decision,” Stringfield said. “That’s called pragmatism.”

“I encourage you to always choose principle over pragmatism,” he said.

A Trust Women spokesperson called the comments dangerous, essentially “endorsing terrorism,” and worries that they could lead to political violence aimed at patients and abortion providers.

“It is never far from our minds and hearts that Dr. George Tiller was assassinated by an extremist who was, like the Al-Qaeda terrorists Mr. Stringfield admires, motivated by his own twisted sense of principle,” Trust Women spokesperson Zack Gingrich-Gaylord said in the statement.

“Regardless of one’s personal views on reproductive health care, it should go without saying that advocating for violence and terrorism is unacceptable in a democracy. Kansans have spoken on this issue; over and over again they have supported legal access to abortions. We call on Dr. Stringfield and the anti-abortion movement to renounce this type of dangerous rhetoric, and on all Kansans to make it clear that our shared values of personal autonomy, democracy and love of our communities leave no room for terrorism.”

Kansans for Life, the state’s most powerful anti-abortion group who invited Stringfield to speak at the event, declined to answer whether the organization agrees with Stringfield’s comments about terrorists.

“Kansans for Life stands on a long, documented history of supporting peace and never endorsing violence,” Danielle Underwood, a spokesperson for Kansans for Life who emceed the March for Life rally and introduced Stringfield to the audience, said in a written statement. “We respect the dignity of every human person, regardless of their circumstances or beliefs, and work to achieve consensus through public policy, education and civic engagement.

“If you are looking for clarification of Dr. Stringfield’s comments, we suggest you reach out to him directly.”

Stringfield did not return calls or respond to a written request for comment to Choices clinic. His March for Life comments came on the heels of a fiery speech by Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson, an Andover Republican, who declared “it’ll be a cold day in you-know-what before we stop fighting to protect women and children, including unborn children.”

The anti-abortion movement in Kansas is seeking a unifying path forward as it reels from the resounding defeat of the Value Them Both amendment, which sought to overturn a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that found a constitutional right to abortion.

Despite the loss, anti-abortion Kansas lawmakers have floated bills that would allow local governments to pass abortion restrictions and criminalize abortion. Those bills would almost certainly face a veto from Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and court challenges if passed into law.

Republican lawmakers are also working on other legislation that would providing additional funding to crisis pregnancy centers, such as the one run by Stringfield, which work to convince expecting mothers with unplanned pregnancies or fetuses with fatal birth defects to give birth by offering sonograms, adoption information and perinatal hospice services.