Rest in Peace Dr. Tiller

“It is my fundamental philosophy that patients are emotionally, mentally, morally, spiritually and physically competent to struggle with complex health issues and come to decisions that are appropriate for them.”

– Dr. Tiller, via Hugo Schwyzer via Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health

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This is late, mostly because its been difficult for me to even acknowledge that this much hate exists in the world, but I would like to take a few lines to pay my respects to Dr. Tiller. As most of you probably already know Dr. Tiller, one of the few providers of late-term abortions in the United States, was murdered yesterday as he was walking into his Sunday morning church services.

Feministe reported on his murder and on the harassment he received leading up to it. Dr. Tiller lived through so much, “he had previously been shot, his clinic burnt down, harassed by ideological anti-abortion attorney generals, and threatened with death countless times,” yet he never gave up, never stopped providing desperate women* with the respect and care that they deserved. (Someone on my facebook news-feed wrote that he used to wear a button that said, “Trust Women.” I would not be surprised at all if this were true – Dr. Tiller obviously had respect, dedication, and and compassion for his patients.)

Regardless of how you personally feel about abortion, this event goes beyond an ideological battle. Dr. Tiller’s murder, and previous harassment, should have never occurred and it truly saddens me that we live in a world where people often cannot seem to disagree without violence.

I would simply like to take today to reflect on respect for life, and for one’s fellow man – we need to learn from this experience and honor Dr. Tiller’s death by respecting even those that we disagree with. I’m not saying we shouldn’t make our opinions heard, all I am saying is that we should do so in a respectful way, a way that avoids violence and personal attacks, just as Dr. Tiller did through his life – bravely and respectfully living out his values, even in the face of violent opposition.

Feministe has a few pieces up that speak of his murder if you want more information. Hugo Schwyzer wrote an amazing piece about Dr. Tiller’s life, faith, and the events that lead him to perform abortions and regard abortion in the way that he did. Also, this article elucidates some of the hate speak that existed surrounding Dr. Tiller prior to his murder – hate speak that could have easily played a role in motivating his killer to act.

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* Not to say that all women seeking abortions are desperate but, givin the lack of funding and availability in this country in almost all cases women seeking late-term abortions are desperate because they have been denied by red-tape put in place to make abortions difficult to obtain (lack of funding, locations, need for parental consent, and so on) and have reached the point where they are truly desperate for someone who will carry out their wishes and return their bodily integrity.

In my opinion it makes more sense for those who oppose late-term abortions so strongly to work to make abortion and contraception more accessible – thus avoiding many unwanted pregnancies, and making the remaining abortions more likely to occur early in the pregnancy.

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