Rest in Peace, Dr. Tiller

You may have already heard by now, but on Sunday, Dr. George Tiller of Kansas was shot dead while serving as an usher at his church. The killer as of this writing remains unidentified and uncaught.

Dr. Tiller was one of a handful of doctors (there may actually be only one or two others) in this country willing to perform late-term abortions, which are, contrary to anti-choice propoganda, almost always performed for medically necessary reasons.

You can read about some of the women he helped (and their heartbreaking stories) here

The reality is that abortion in the late second and third trimesters is extremely rare. The reality is that finding a doctor to do this procedure in the late second or third trimester is almost impossible. For me, the reality was that at the most painful time of my life I had to travel out of state, stay in a hotel room and face hostile protesters in order to carry out this most personal of choices.

If you’re like me, you had no idea that this happened to people. I thought that I would go through this under the care of my regular doctor, in my local hospital, with the support of family and friends nearby. I remember a few weeks before getting our baby’s final, lethal prognosis, I heard on the news about a doctor being shot. “Isn’t that terrible,” I thought, having no inkling just how relevant this would be to me just a few weeks later.

Up until the moment I sat across the desk from my OB, I held out hope that he would give my son some chance to beat the odds. I couldn’t believe it when he said that there was no chance that he would live very long after he was born. Since I had not even entertained that idea, I was even less prepared for the next thing he had to say, but those words are burned into my memory forever.

Dr. Tiller was a hero; though his clinic was protested and vandalized, though there was an ongoing campaign of harassment against him and the other workers, though he was shot in both arms in 1993, he kept working, putting the lives of women ahead of his own. To read about some of the harassment tactics that the non-violent protesters used against his workers, go here.

Operation Rescue’s smear campaign against Phares [a worker at Dr. Tiller’s clinic] is part of a new strategy to shut down abortion clinics by systematically harassing their employees into quitting. Banned by law from blockading clinics as it did in its early days, Operation Rescue has taken its offensive to the front lawns and mailboxes of clinic workers. In Wichita, members of the group rummage through employees’ garbage in search of incriminating information. They tail them around town as they run errands. They picket clinic staffers at restaurants while they’re inside having dinner and castigate them while they’re standing in line at Starbucks. Operation Rescue is also visiting companies that do business with the clinic and threatening them with a boycott if they don’t sever their ties with the facility. This is America’s new abortion war, and the objective, in military terms, is to cut off the supply lines to abortion clinics and demoralize their troops.

What happened to Dr. Tiller was both a horrific tragedy and an act of domestic terrorism. If you’d like some information on some of the nonviolent ways we can support his work and react to this tragedy (groups to donate to, vigils to attend) check out feministing’s list..


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