Remembering Dr. Tiller

Dr Tiller Saved Women's Lives

It’s been 3 years. 3 years since the death of one brave man risked his life to provide healthcare to those in grave need.

Yesterday marked the 3-year anniversary of the tragic murder of the courageous Dr. Tiller, who provided abortions in Kansas. Abortion Gang and The Provider Project asked writers to share their thoughts honoring the memory of Dr. Tiller.

When I first heard about Dr. Tiller’s murder, I was shocked. Horrified. I mean, how could someone murder a doctor for providing healthcare to patients in need? A person simply doing their job?

At that time, I thought it can’t get worse. It just can’t. How wrong I was.

I don’t write as much about abortion nearly as much as I think about it or talk about it. Sometimes I feel my words are inferior to all the passionate and educated bloggers and writers and activists out there. Sometimes I feel my words go unheard. Often I feel overwhelmed by the tide of anti-choice legislation that keeps coming, wave upon wave eroding our freedom.

Last year, a record number of laws passed restricting abortion — 92 bills in 24 states. This year, as of March, roughly 470 anti-choice bills have been introduced, “75 abortion restrictions have been approved by at least one legislative chamber, and 9 have been enacted.”

No one has the right to dictate what someone does with their body.

Dr. Tiller was known for performing late-term abortions, one of the few doctors who publicly and openly did so. When it comes to late-term abortions, even those amongst the pro-choice community feel apprehensive or hesitant to give support. But if we’re pro-choice, that means we support the full scope of reproductive health.

I feel like a broken record but I’m going to keep saying it until no anti-choice legislation exists. Abortion is healthcare. Period. It’s a normal, routine medical procedure.

I’m sad. I’m angry.

It upsets me misogynistic, classist and racist anti-choice legislation continually obstructs our rights.

It infuriates me that anti-choice activists resort to terrorism. Make no mistake. When I say terrorism, I mean terrorism. Doctors, nurses, staff, volunteers, clinic escorts, patients and their friends and family are systematically targeted with violence for supporting, performing or obtaining abortions.

This year alone, terrorists bombed a Grand Chute, Wisconsin Planned Parenthood and a clinic in Pensacola, Florida and set fire to Atlanta abortion clinics and a New Orleans clinic. In 2011, “there were 114 attacks against abortion providers.” It’s frightening these violent acts continue to happen 3 years after Dr. Tiller’s death. It’s appalling that our government is doing nothing to stop them and to uphold the reproductive rights of its citizens.

What has really changed? I’d like to think these horrific assaults — both physical and legislative — have lit a fire in people, making them realize the value of speaking out in support of reproductive justice. But as we grow louder, anti-choicers do too.

No matter how I defeated I sometimes feel, I must add my voice to the symphony of voices advocating for change. We’ve got to speak out against laws that violate our survival and our freedom.

But I can’t help but worry that if we as a society can’t collectively agree on the fundamental principle that each of us has the right to govern our own body — if we can’t collectively agree on that basic human right, then what chance do other social issues have? How can we ever hope to dismantle other systems of oppression?

At this year’s CLPP Conference, the fabulously articulate Lindsay O’Pries shared her perspective on abortion. She said it’s a great time to talk about stories. People’s personal stories are far more powerful than statistics. She also talked about her own abortion. When a friend challenges her on abortion she sometimes says to them:

 “Do you think I’m a murderer? Do you think I murdered my baby? Because if you do, we can’t continue our friendship.”

This blew my mind. I loved her candor and her frank and direct approach. And she’s absolutely right. This is what it comes down to. It’s easy to vilify strangers. It’s much harder to demonize those you love.

Trust was the cornerstone of Dr. Tiller’s beliefs — a sentiment we should all embrace. Dr. Tiller left a legacy of compassion. Let’s honor him by remembering that we don’t know another’s circumstances. We will never truly know what it feels like to live someone else’s life. Therefore, we have no business mandating decisions, telling people what’s right or wrong for their bodies.

It’s time we got the fuck out of people’s uteruses and start trusting people to choose what’s right for their lives.

Image by Evoque via Flickr and the Creative Commons License

2 thoughts on “Remembering Dr. Tiller

  1. yay! Go opinioness! Well written and well said! I think no matter how uncomfortable abortion may make some of us feel, it fundamentally comes down to no one has the right to force a woman to go through with an unwanted pregnancy, in the same way no one has the right to force a woman to go through unwanted sterilisation or unwanted abortion. Our bodies, our choice!

  2. Yay! Well written and well said opinioness! No matter how uncomfortable abortion may make some of us feel, it all comes down to the fundamental point that no one has the right to force a woman to endure an unwanted pregnancy, in the same way that no one has the right to force a woman to endure unwanted sterilisation or unwanted abortion. OUR bodies, OUR choice!

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