Two years ago today, Dr. George Tiller was serving as an usher at his church in Wichita, Kansas. That’s when anti-choice activist (and terrorist) Scott Roeder shot him point blank in the face, killing him. Dr. Tiller had been wearing body armor, as he had been for several years at the time after becoming aware of what a target he was. He had been shot before, in 1993 outside of his clinic in Wichita. Unfortunately, this time he didn’t survive. Dr. Tiller was killed in cold blood on May 31, 2009.
Dr. Tiller was one of only three practitioners providing women with late-term abortions in the United States. His compassion and kindness helped countless uterus-owning people and couples through one of the hardest decisions a person can make. The thing that anti-choice activists fail to recognize about late-term abortions is that these are pregnancies that are very much wanted; no one goes 7 or 8 months into a pregnancy and then thinks, Oh, nevermind, Imma get a late term abortion! These are pregnancies that endanger the health of the mother, these are fetal anomalies that no one could have foreseen, fetuses actually suffering from defects or fetuses that are no longer viable or will be born with little to no hope of living. And these are parents who want to hold the children they wanted and give them a proper funeral service.
And anti-choice activists not only ignore this but make the pain that these people who choose to go through late-term abortion worse by spouting out a bunch of shit about miracles and how that very non-viable fetus that would probably live a brief and painful life still deserves that chance at life. Ignoring the very real suffering not just of the child that would be born but the parents who would have to deal emotionally (and financially) with the painful death of a child. These people have the right to self-preservation and if that includes a late-term abortion, then so be it.
Dr. George Tiller made this possible for many, many patients during his career. Feministe has put together an absolutely heart-breaking collection of patients’ stories about their experience with Dr. Tiller. This man was a true hero. Even after his clinic was fire-bombed and even after being shot the first time, he continued providing late-term abortions because he knew how vital it was for the people who needed them. That is truly honorable.
Rest in Peace, Dr. George Tiller. Thank you for the amazing service you provided to so many of your patients. You are greatly missed.
I’ll end with some inspiring words from the good doctor himself:
The women in my father’s practice for whom he did abortions educated me and taught me that abortion is about women’s hopes, dreams, potential, the rest of their lives. Abortion is a matter of survival for women
Hell no, we won’t go.