(Cross-posted at RH Reality Check)
Many have heard the really terrifying news that Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Kansas, was gunned down this morning while he attended services at his Lutheran church in Wichita.
At this writing, a suspect has just been taken into custody.
The chilling fact of Dr. Tiller's death comes after years of being terrorized: he's had his clinic bombed, flooded and vandalized; received decades of death threats; endured wild lawsuits; and was the unfortunate target of conservative media that hounded him. He'd also been shot before (in both arms)--and went back to work the next day.
While of course everybody has the right to personally oppose abortion, the killing and harassment of Dr. Tiller is beyond the pale. (I've articulated my own pro-choice feelings about abortion here, here, and here). The hypocrisy of murder being the recourse of someone who is "pro-life" is so evident it barely needs discussing.
What does need emphasizing: Dr. Tiller's courage in persevering with his work--his commitment to the women who came to him--even in the face of such cruelty is astonishing. His murder comes down in my mind to an act of terrorism; it is, after all, intended to send a fearful message to other abortion providers or advocates or women who seek abortions. (Matthew Yglesias makes a powerful point about how effective this is.)
As Feministe points out, this is the first direct shooting of an abortion provider in more than a decade (after a fearful spate of them through most of the 1990s), though the anniversary of Roe v. Wade last January saw one man smashing his SUV into a St. Paul clinic full of patients and employees. It seems that clinic bombings and murders increase substantially during pro-choice administrations.
A candlelight vigil in honor of Dr. Tiller is planned in Wichita tonight at 8pm in Old Town Square. Find more info on Facebook.
As well, this is a wonderful time to donate and volunteer our time to organizations that have Tiller-esque courage and compassion. Consider showing your love for these favorites of mine:
Read more about Dr. Tiller--his life, work, and death--here:
- The Wichita Eagle
- The Kansas City Star
- Mike Hendricks
- Daily Kos
- Dr. George Tiller's clinic website (UPDATE 6/2/09: The clinic website it temporarily offline).
- Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War, by James Risin
Peace, my friends. Peace.
Image Credit: Feministe