It was two years ago today that Dr. George Tiller, one of the few brave late-term abortion providers in the United States, was shot dead in church with the church community and his wife as witnesses. Tiller became the fourth abortion doctor to have been murdered since 1993 by “pro-life” terrorists.
The murder was deeper than a mad man bursting into a room and opening fire — it served as a shocking reality of the horrors that face abortion providers and clinic staff on a daily basis. Dr. Tiller was only one of three abortion providers who openly performed legal late-term abortions. And as such, he was no stranger to harassment. Tiller was shot in both arms in the 90’s and also had his clinic bombed. The FBI told him to wear a bullet proof vest at all times because he was such a hot target to the anti-choice radicals.
Anti-choice group, Operation Rescue, has often been linked with the murder of Dr. Tiller and it is not a hard link to make. After Tiller was shot in 1993, co-founder of Operation Rescue Andrew Burnett said the following about the incident:
"The chickens have come home to roost at Tiller’s house. It would seem that he has been put out of commission, at least temporarily. I hope he will take this opportunity to re-evaluate what he is doing."
But today, we have to let go of all of that and honor the man and his legacy. Today, we have to ask ourselves, “What are we doing to honor the life of Dr. Tiller?”
Upon his death, his family issued the following statement:
““Today we mourn the loss of our husband, father and grandfather. Today’s event is an unspeakable tragedy for all of us and for George’s friends and patients. This is particularly heart wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.
We would like to express the family’s thanks for the many messages of sympathy from our friends and from all across the nation. We also want to thank the law enforcement officers who are investigating this crime.
Our loss is also a loss for the City of Wichita and women across America. George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality heath care despite frequent threats and violence. We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere.”
And it couldn’t be more true. Dr. Tiller did not have to put his life on the line everyday as an abortion provider. Tiller did not have to undergo the frequent threats of violence. Tiller did not have to die. But he did and because he did, we must stand up for him too. Tiller saved hundreds, maybe thousands, of women’s lives. He was a hero and an inspiration for doctors everywhere. We cannot let his message be lost in this highly passionate abortion debate. Tiller lost his life so that others may have one.
What can we do to honor his legacy?
Fight to protect other late-term abortion providers. Dr. Carhart is a physician in Maryland who performs late-term abortions (a legal procedure in Maryland) similar to Tiller. Carhart is met with strong anti-choice presence on a daily basis. Operation Rescue has organized another “Summer of Mercy” this summer which was originally organized in the 90’s to protest against Dr. Tiller. We must stand in solidarity with abortion providers and support them in any way that we can. We must do this because it does not matter whether or not abortion is legal if there are no doctors to perform them. Dr. Tiller did not die in vain. We remember and will never forget.
Today, as a human being, as an American and as a woman, I thank Dr. Tiller for his bravery, resilience and for the countless lives he has saved.
Rest in peace Dr. George Tiller
(August 8, 1941 – May 31, 2009)