Monday, June 1, 2009

Abortion doctor shot in Kansas

by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

One of the only doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions was shot dead yesterday in the foyer of his church, as he handed out the weekly bulletin. George Tiller was one of the central figures in the debate around abortion; his clinic was bombed and in 1993, an anti-choice activist shot him in both arms. Dr. Tiller was literally one of the only doctors in the country who would perform third-trimester abortions, and his death means that there are even fewer options for women who seek late-term abortions. Scott Roeder may be charged with his murder later today. Roeder, according to the NYT, was a subscriber and occasional contributor to a newsletter, Prayer and Action News, run by Dave Leach, an anti-abortion activist who horrifyingly claimed that to call Tiller's shooting a crime would be "simplistic." Leach added, "There is Christian scripture that would support this."

To their credit, anti-choice organizations have also expressed outrage at Tiller's death, saying that they always sought "nonviolent" ways to end Tiller's pro-choice activism. But let's be honest here - their rhetoric does nothing to discourage people like Roeder, who believe that they are ethically ordained to commit murder in the name of anti-choice activism. And pro-choice activists were understandably devastated by the violent death of a man who was courageous enough to continue his work, despite many threats to his life. President Obama issued a statement, saying, "However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence." But this killing is likely to make abortion providers feel even more threatened by their choice to provide a basic reproductive service to women.

Many pro-choice activists are conflicted about abortion, and are totally committed to making abortion as rare as possible. But until we can provide contraceptives, education, and reduce stigma about discussing sexuality openly, abortion is going to need to remain a viable choice for women - and they should be able to access it without fear. Doctors, too, should be able to provide the service without thinking about their own security. Many people are identifying Dr. Tiller's death as a terrorist act - and they're right. If people who work in reproductive clinics are afraid to do their jobs - afraid that they'll be murdered outside their workplaces, in their churches or homes, then this is terrorism.

I really don't have words.


At June 1, 2009 at 1:43 PM , Blogger TommyD said...

Dr. Tiller was an American hero who saved women's lives. He was one of only three providers of late-term abortions in the Central Plains, and his murder will have a chilling effect on women and doctors everywhere. This is exactly what terrorists who slew him want. Emily Bazelon has more here on Dr. Tiller's good works here:

Right-wing agitators like Bill O'Reilly and Operation Rescue called a fatwa against Dr. Tiller years ago, calling him "Tiller Baby Killer" and accusing him of "Nazi Stuff":

While neither O'Reilly nor Randall Terry pulled any trigger, ideas have consequences and the right of free speech comes with a responsibility for one's words--especially when those words are broadcast nationally every night at 9 o'clock. In a free society, people have the right to oppose abortion. But people and organizations who commit (or encourage or excuse) violence, intimidation and murder are gangsters and terrorists--and it's high time the law treat them as such.

At June 1, 2009 at 10:58 PM , Blogger Debra J.M. Smith said...

Obama said, "However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence." --If Obama only cared that much about the countless babies who died at the hands of that abortionist...

A family member said, "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." Wow, how about the wombs that all of those babies were in? The womb is supposed to be a safe place of peace for a baby. But that monster would intrude and kill each one of them, with no remorse.

And I do not feel sorry for a family who loved a murderer. And I sure do NOT feel sorry for a church that had no problem allowing a murderer to attend.

Debra J.M. Smith

At June 3, 2009 at 8:34 AM , Anonymous JKis said...

Debra, your comments illuminate the depths of hate and hypocrisy to which the "pro-life" position can fall.

Though your humanity and sympathy are apparently reserved only for sons and daughters that never make it past the womb, you should recognize that Dr. Tiller was someone's son, too, and that --regardless of your different views about morals, ethics or politics-- robbing anyone of their life in this manner is antithetical to your cause and abhorrent to all.

Shame on you.

At June 4, 2009 at 2:21 AM , Blogger Roscoe said...

who the tits do you think you are Debra?

First off, human life is human life, and if you were really that pro-life, I am appalled by you dehumanization of Tiller. This is not the time nor the place to bring up the "murder" of fetuses in the womb. It's people like you who make it hard for me to call myself pro-life.

If you are so into informing Christians, why don't you preach to them about throwing the first stone, about loving your enemies, about forgiveness and compassion to sinners?

No, instead you'd take this tragedy as a political soapbox. Not only is it in horrible taste, it is fundamentally un-Christian of you. I understand people like Amelia here make Tiller out to be a saint and that is really frustrating (it is for me too), but that does not excuse the attitude with which you approached this very sad news. A member of our human family was taken from us, and to that the only response should be grief and sorrow, not pride and chastisement. I hope you will rethink this perverse political strategy and pray to God that Tiller is with Him now in Heaven, forgiven of his sins, like any of us would hope for.

Let this tragedy shine light on the necessity of a level-headed national discourse about abortion. Ignorance and rhetoric cannot prevail any longer, lest we allow events like this to happen once more.


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