After having watched the documentary Religulous on Saturday, the news of Dr. Tiller's death on Sunday was incredibly hard to accept. I am still filled with hate and rage at the moment but I will do my best not to use swear words in this post.
For those of you who have never heard of Dr. George Tiller, I think NY Governor George Patterson described him best in yesterday's press release:
I was deeply saddened to learn that Dr. George Tiller, a well-known provider of and advocate for women’s health care, was gunned down this morning at his church in Wichita, Kansas. With his murder, we are robbed not only of a dedicated and courageous physician, but also of a husband, father and neighbor.Dr. Tiller was one of three abortion providers in the U.S. who performed abortions after 24 weeks of gestation. Late term abortions are almost always done when a woman's health is at risk or if the fetus has no chance of surviving outside of the womb or if the fetus has a condition that will lead to a slow, painful death post-partum. In a sense, Dr. Tiller was performing abortions that were deemed medically necessary (for testimonials of some of Dr. Tiller's patients, please go here).
Dr. Tiller was targeted for his belief in the right of women to make their own health decisions. He protected that right and sought to ensure that his patients were provided with the medical, emotional and spiritual counsel they needed to make the right choice for themselves and their families. He continued this work despite the threat of harmful retaliation, physical attacks and the destruction of his clinic. We will forever remember his fearlessness, compassion and commitment.
But that's not what the anti-choicers want you to believe. He was a killer, running an abortion mill in Wichita, the abortion capital of the US. He had to be stopped. Domestic terror cell, Operation Rescue (let's just call a spade a spade, shall we?), had longed targeted Dr. Tiller, going so far as to move their terrorist organization to Wichita and posting all information about the people who worked in Dr. Tiller's clinic, including photos. Isn't that convenient? Why would they do that if not to incite violence against those employees and Dr. Tiller?
It is of no surprise whatsoever that Dr. Tiller's murderer was affiliated with Operation Rescue.
What should be of no surprise to the anti-choice movement is that the man who murdered Dr. Tiller (at his church, with his wife watching from the choir loft), has now created a martyr. Everyone in the women's rights movement was already familiar with Dr. Tiller and his passion for reproductive rights. This was a man who wore a bullet proof vest to work. Who had legal charges brought against him constantly by anti-choice politicians (he was never convicted, of course). Whose clinic had been bombed and, most recently, had been vandalized. Who was shot in both arms by another domestic terrorist (now serving time in prison). Who went to work every day despite these obstacles because he believed that women were capable and had the right to make their own health decisions.
In women's rights circle everywhere, we are banding together to decide what could we do to honor Dr. Tiller's memory. This blogger is making a sizable donation (of money I don't really have) to Medical Students for Choice, an organization that works to ensure that reproductive health procedures are taught in all medical schools and that the next generation of Dr. Tillers are properly trained to follow in his giant footsteps. Others are calling their local PP clinics in order to volunteer as escorts. Still others are planning to donate money to reproductive health organizations (such as PRCH, which Dr. Tiller was on the board of directors).
Some of us were inspired by Dr. Tiller's determination and perseverance. But now all of us know about it. He's inspired us to be more resolute in our efforts to defend a woman's right to choose and to fight back against those so-called pro-life groups that do nothing but breed terrorists who act in the name of their god.
I have just one thing to say about Scott Roeder.