Julie Burkhart, who runs the Trust Women Foundation, reopened late-term abortionist George Tiller’s Wichita, Kansas, abortion facility a number of years ago. Burkhart has lamented how hard it is to be an abortion provider, due to laws requiring abortion facilities to comply with the same health standards as other clinics. But that didn’t stop her from expanding her business south into the most pro-life state in the nation: Oklahoma. Burkhart’s planned new abortion facility in Oklahoma City has caused problems for the reputation of a Christian-owned business who was hired to work on the facility.
Burkhart’s abortion facility, South Wind Women’s Center–Oklahoma City, is located in the heart of a predominantly minority neighborhood.
One of the local companies used for the renovations of the new abortion facility was Yarbrough & Sons LLC, an HVAC company who won the bid, unaware that it was for an abortion facility. The owner of the HVAC company is a longstanding member (who has also served as a deacon) of a Baptist church. Because of this, controversy erupted among the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) and conservative bloggers and Christian leaders who discovered the connection.
Conservative blog Pulpit and Pen chronicled the journey of the construction of the first Oklahoma City abortion clinic in decades. On March 22, the blog published this article. The war of words then began when Pulpit and Pen said:
The pro-aborts clearly don’t fear pro-life legislation. Oklahoma is widely appreciated as the most pro-life state in the Union. There are many pro-life laws on the books, restricting abortion activity, setting requirements for abortion mills and their personnel to meet…. And still they build. Still they invest in child sacrifice in Oklahoma. They don’t fear because they are actually on the same team as the leaders of the pro-life movement.
In actuality, it appears that Yarbrough & Sons bid on a project without knowing anything other than it was to be a “medical clinic.” However, problems ensued when the HVAC company initially refused to drop the job. The drama has been unfolding with several chapters.
JD Hall circulated a petition on Change.org in which he called for SBC leaders Russell Moore and Ronnie Floyd to address the ethical considerations of SBC members helping to build abortion centers.
It asks Moore to address the issue in general so that this doesn’t happen with other SBC members participating in the construction of abortion facilities.
Pulpit and Pen pressed in and insisted that Yarbrough & Sons’ refusal to drop the job after it learned it was an abortion center was tantamount to agreeing to construct a Nazi death camp, demonstrating a love of money over morals. Since the planning information was available at the Oklahoma County Assessor’s website, Pulpit and Pen argued, Yarbrough & Sons should have done its homework on what the former eye clinic was about to become.
Pulpit and Pen then said:
The obvious and clear correct thing to do, once you have discovered you’ve been constructing a modern Auschwitz, is to leave the job behind. You sustain whatever temporal damage you must. You eat whatever penalty. You get sued if you can’t avoid it. You do what you can to impede the progress of the construction of the killing facility.
Above all, you do not continue making sure this death camp’s HVAC system functions well. There is no excuse for this. It is a no-brainer. That is the bare minimum.
Initially, Yarbrough & Sons issued a response to the accusations launched by Pulpit and Pen. In it, the company explained why it decided to finish the job at the abortion center:
A couple months ago we were subcontracted to supply air conditioning services for a medical clinic. All we knew about the clinic was that it provided health services. We have done work on many hospitals and clinics before so this was not unusually. We were 80% done with the job and started to receive polemic protests, phone calls, voicemails, comments, and reviews. Their intent is to harm our reputation and get people to boycott our company. We are distraught by this the harassment and cyberbullying and have been seeking guidance. My dad has been in contact with our pastor and many mentors over the last couple of days. After much thought, prayer, and mentorship we have decided to complete the job because we are contractually bound and know that a breach of contract is illegal. Such actions would also be dishonoring to our code of conduct and what we believe in. If we had known the women’s clinic also provided services that go against the convictions of the owners and the many men & women within the company, then we simply would not have bid the job and moved on.
Yarbrough & Sons does not investigate the actions of every individual within the residential and commercial building with which we do business. The prior stated would be an egregious practice for decent human interaction to require a completed form of all actions committed and all future actions intended in their home or business. That’s not a very good way to make friends or live the gospel. Discriminatory actions are not a part of our business policy. We gladly provide HVAC to all people unconditionally.
However, things changed behind the scenes and, while Pulpit and Pen continued its campaign against the contractor, the contractor says it was quietly getting out of the job. On May 6, Yarbrough & Sons issued this public statement:
The church also doubled down on its pro-life stance and issued a statement earlier this month, decrying the tactics of the “militant, local pro-life group” and reaffirming its resolve to be an actively pro-life congregation. It posted the same statement in its own tab on its website, as well, reinforcing its stance of the sanctity of life and the church’s efforts to eradicate abortion.
Ultimately, while neither group claims victory or unity with each other in this battle, the fact remains that one group brought the location and workers of the new abortion center to public eye and, as a result, a contractor walked out of a job because its pro-life convictions demanded it.
In the end, conviction won out –and HVAC installation was delayed in a new abortion center, which, if this tale is any indication, will be laden with protests in America’s heartland.