Remembering Dr. Tiller

Today marks two years since the cold-blooded murder of late term abortion provider, Dr. George Tiller.

Dr. George Tiller (1941-2009)

Dr. Tiller was a courageous physician in Wichita, Kansas, who continued providing abortion services to women despite death threats and harassment by extremist groups such as Operation Rescue (which I’ll discuss further in a moment). Despite being shot in both arms in 1993, having his clinic vandalized, encountering more death threats from nutjobs than I can count, enduring aggressive protests by groups that would physically block patients from entering the clinic, and so much more Dr. Tiller never quit. He was one of only three late term abortion providers in the US at the time, and he knew that his services were already incredibly difficult to acquire.

Dr. Tiller also knew that women seeking late term abortions were not lazy, baby killers as anti-choice groups so often depict, but women who ended up chasing the fee and couldn’t afford the service until after 21 weeks, women who discovered their unborn child had a life threatening condition and would not survive outside the womb, women whose own lives were endangered by their pregnancies. Dr. Tiller helped these women, and while many groups claim he was some sort of angel of death, really, Dr. Tiller was protecting women’s lives. In fact, his motto was “Trust women” and trust women he did. So often “pro-life” groups only care about the lives of fetuses. What about the lives of women? Are women really worth so little?

Operation Rescue is one such group preaching the “pro-life” gospel. Here’s a snippet from the about us section of their website:

Operation Rescue® is one of the leading pro-life Christian activist organizations in the nation. Operation Rescue® recently made headlines when it bought and closed an abortion clinic in Wichita, Kansas and has become perhaps the most visible voice of the pro-life activist movement in America. Its activities are on the cutting edge of the abortion issue, taking direct action to restore legal personhood to the pre-born and stop abortion in obedience to biblical mandates.

Note how they claim their visibility rises from their buying a closed abortion clinic in Wichita. Really? Because I thought that their visibility rose from their hateful stunts (although I guess buying the clinic would fall under this category), backwards reasoning, and largely from Scott Roeder’s actions. Scott Roeder, the man who walked into Dr. Tiller’s church and killed him in front of his family.

And the part about “obedience to biblical mandates”? Anti-choice groups aren’t even pretending to be about life anymore. It’s about forcing their skewed vision of Christianity onto everyone else. And restoring legal personhood to the pre-born? I cannot even cover how ridiculous that statement is. 

This group is using fear and coercion to prevent women from receiving abortions. And they’re not just targeting late-term abortion providers. They’re targeting every clinic offering abortions. They rely on terrorist actions such as these to further their own screwed up moral code. They kill and threaten people under the guise of preserving life.

For a 3D design project at my school we designed a memorial to the person, group, or concept of our choosing. I could think of no one more deserving than Dr. Tiller. 

The model I made features a circle of women holding hands around a fountain. Many of the women who received abortions from Dr. Tiller have publically remembered him as someone who protected their rights to their own bodies and whom they would love to protect in return. The protective circle of women represents these feelings. I also chose to create a fountain because it is representative of life. That may sound strange, since anti-choicers frequently employ life-centric rhetoric. However, women who receive late term abortions do so because their own lives are endangered by their pregnancy, their babies would die once outside the womb, or because they were unable to pay for an earlier abortion. Dr. Tiller helped these women to live rather than be forced to endure dangerous and life-threatening pregnancies.

We need more people like Dr. Tiller, who are willing to stand up for what they believe in, even in the face of harassment and danger. I’m sure that Dr. Tiller will never be forgotten.

Here’s a website which was created as “both a memorial to the lifework of Dr. George Tiller and as a living testimony to the courageous lives of abortion providers”. I Am Dr Tiller has many inspiring stories, I would recommend checking it out!

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