A hero who wore a button saying "Trust Women," was shot down and killed today, in a devastating attack on the right of women to control our own bodies. Dr. George Tiller began providing abortion care in 1973, as soon as it was legal in Kansas, and continued until yesterday. He endured, and rose above, the constant picketers of his clinic and home; the vandalism; the baseless lawsuits and political/legal trials. He survived being shot by another anti-abortion would-be assassin in 1993. He gave compassionate care to thousands of women, and mentored colleagues and medical students, and was a source of last resort for women with fetal/maternal complications in his Wichita, Kansas clinic.
George's murder is a heavy, almost unbearable blow, and not only for his family and friends, who deserve our deep gratitude for supporting him in his life's work.
A wonderful person by all accounts, he is not at this time replaceable as a highly skilled teacher and courageous physician who knowingly took the risks he did to do what we believed in. The anti-abortion movement, from its origins with "abortion is murder" in the 1970's, through the clinic-bombing 1980's, and the murderous attacks of the 1990's, has successfully shrunk the ranks of doctors and hospitals who are willing to risk providing abortions. They've poisoned the minds of a generation of women, permeating them with feelings of shame over unwanted pregnancies and for having the audacity to want to control when and if they bear children.
Having been nose to nose with anti-abortion leaders in front of clinics, and sometimes between them and doctors, for decades, I know them as the active base of a deeply dangerous, Christian theocratic, and fascist movement. They believe, as Randall Terry screamed in my face in 1987, that women must be kept subservient to men. Their god is a vengeful god, they remind us, and we deserve death for not obeying him.
They've got the scripture, memorized from both the Old Testament and the New, and the worldview to enforce that male supremacy in their homes and in their movement.