6.01.2009

George Tiller

George Tiller, a doctor in Kansas who was a long-time activist for abortion rights and one of the few doctors in the country who provided late-term abortions, was murdered in his church yesterday morning. He was a target of anti-abortion vitriol for years and had been shot before. I'm not sure what to say about this. He was killed for providing a legal, and much needed, service for women.

Anti-abortion extremists have already done their best to make it frightening to go to a clinic to have an abortion and to escort patients into those clinics. The culture of silence around abortion means that most of the 43% of women in the US who have abortions don't talk about it openly. And now, for the first time in a long time--since I was in college, I think--they've upped the ante and engaged in an overt act of terrorism.

I was talking with a student today whose father was encouraging her to stop escorting patients at the clinic in Charleston, since he's afraid George Tiller's murder will incite the Charleston protestors to more harassment and violence. She said that her inclination was to do the opposite of what her father wanted, to mobilize more escorts and show up in force at the clinic. I think this is the right impulse. Those of us who've had abortions need to speak out unapologetically. Those of us who believe in reproductive justice need to write letters, call our legislators, and show up on Saturday mornings to support women who are making a very important life decision and who want to do so safely.

Update for those in Charleston: There will be a candlelight vigil for Dr. Tiller on Wednesday, June 3, at 8pm in Marion Square. Bring your own candles or flashlights.

7 comments:

Cindy said...

I am TOTALLY pro life and anti abortion. (I had an abortion when I was 19 and I counsel post abortive women whose lives have been severely negatively affected by their abortions). This being said, I am horrified by the killing of George Tiller. How is his life any less valuable than those precious babies that are aborted every day? A life is a life, no matter what the person chooses to do with it. Please know that all pro-life activists that I know are completely against this....

aaron said...

It would be interesting to see if there is any polling data outlining the number of "pro-choice" and "pro-life" people who are for or against the death penalty.

I think people who kill Doctors that perform abortions are thinking that the lives they are "saving" will justify this 1 death...

Justifying death...hmmm...

Cate Bush said...

I am so stunned by Dr. Tiller's death. He was such a good human being. There really aren't words to express my sadness.

Anonymous said...

I do not intend the following as a provocative question. However, I am strongly pro-life and have never heard this position explained by someone who is pro-choice. How do you define the "need" for access to late term abortions? While I don't agree with any abortion, I can follow the line of thinking for those who support access to early (first tri-mester) intervention. I cannot wrap my brain around the need to abort a child late in the pregnancy. Is the pro-choice position that any abortion should be the choice of the mother regardless of timing or is it something else?

And, for the record, I agree with Cindy. While I am troubled by the number of lives lost at Dr. Tiller's hands, I do not think for one minute they justify taking his.

Quiche said...

Shocking, sad, heinous...confounds me, to the point of being speechless. And at church, no doubt by someone who claims to believe in God! Infinite blessings to his family and friends.

Alison said...

Anonymous: Late-term abortions are done because of severe medical issues, either with the mother or the fetus. Andrew Sullivan's blog has actually been posting stories of late-term abortions in the wake of the murder of Dr. Tiller. Here are a few of them:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451c45669e201156fc1afba970c

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451c45669e2011570b636fa970b

Cindy said...

the problem with deciphering why women get late term abortions is that you can find studies supporting both positions-fetal anomolies or just inconvience....
http://www.nrlc.org/ABORTION/pba/pbafact9.html

by the way, I appreciate that you post all comments, not just those you agree with. From reading your blog, I have always found you to be thoughtful on many subjects.