There’s so much important policy analysis and moving stories about Dr. George Tiller that we wanted to try to bring you a snapshot of it all here. We’ll continue to add to this post — please also leave suggestions for additional reading, or your own thoughts, in the comments.
In our previous post on Tiller’s murder, we included Tiller’s own story about becoming an abortion provider. He learned his father had provided medically safe abortions for women who had no place else to turn prior to Roe v. Wade only after taking over his father’s practice. Tiller decided to continue to provide the service for women, despite great risk to him and his family. If you haven’t already, read the whole piece, published at Physicians for Reproductive Choice & Health.
Since then, Judy Norsigian, Our Bodies Ourselves executive director, expanded on her blog post about how to show support for abortion providers with three things everyone can do. And we continue to support the efforts of IAmDrTiller.com and the George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund.
Analysis & Public Policy
Abortion Wars, the First Time Around: On The New York Times op-ed page, Kate Manning writes: “Dr. Tiller is just the latest in a line of brave people who have died for providing abortions. Perhaps the most infamous of these was a midwife named Ann Lohman, who killed herself in New York in 1878 after decades of harassment.”
The Legacy of George Tiller: Carole Joffe, author of “Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us” (Beacon Press, forthcoming January 2010), writes that another response to Tiller’s murder “must be to demand that the mainstream medical community acknowledge the reality that there will always be some women who need abortions later on in pregnancy. Local medical institutions must make provision for these cases — especially since these women can no longer be sent off to Kansas, out of sight and mind of ‘respectable’ doctors and hospitals.”
Anti Abortion Rhetoric Still Strong: Journalism professor Cynthia Gorney, author of “Articles of Faith: A History of the Abortion Wars” discusses the state of the abortion debate on NPR.
A History of Violence on the Antiabortion Fringe: Excellent overview by Richard Fausset in the L.A. Times of the degree of violence against abortion clinics and providers.
Abortion Provider George Tiller Murdered at Church: Writing at Religion Dispatches, Frances Kissling ponders the likely outcomes “when people are treated to an unrelenting barrage of religious claims that abortion is murder, that doctors who perform abortion should be charged with crimes and sent to prison, and when pickets outside clinics pray the rosary and display mangled fetuses on crosses as if they were Jesus Christ himself.”
In Memory of Dr. George Tiller: A Tireless Supporter of Women’s Dignity: “I am tired of a public debate that treats seriously the claim that pregnant women, mothers, and the people who support them are killers,” writes Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women. “I am tired of a debate that trivializes genocide by saying that what women do to deal with their reproductive lives is worse.”
Why Clinic Violence is Obama’s Problem: Ann Friedman at The American Prospect calls Tiller’s death “a wake-up call to the fact that our existing laws and regulatory bodies to protect against clinic violence aren’t working as well as they should. As written, FACE provides a lot of protection for reproductive health providers. But we need an active task force — or some other means of accountability — to make sure the law is fully enforced.”
George Tiller Needs More Than Candlelight Vigils: Former Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Gloria Feldt has written a powerful piece remembering past acts of clinic violence and explaining why “candlelight vigils alone will never be enough.”
The Murder of Dr. George Tiller, A Foreshadowing: Cristina Page at RH Reality Check writes: “For those who would like to think today’s murder in church of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider, is an isolated incident: here’s the horrifying news: You are wrong. The pattern is clear and frightening.”
Who killed George Tiller?: Jill Filipovic of Feministe writes: “… this latest act of terrorism is, sadly, not an anomaly. It is part of a clearly-established pattern of harassment, intimidation and violence against abortion providers and pro-choice individuals.”
I Write Letters: Melissa McEwan at Shakesville’s open letter to President Obama, including this direct response to his statement on the matter: “Mr. President, if you had been paying the slightest bit of attention to the realities of the front line of the fight to protect women’s bodily autonomy, you would not be shocked. This wasn’t even the first attempt on Dr. Tiller’s life; it was the merely the first successful one.”
What Should Change in Wake of Tiller Murder: GRITtv with Laura Flanders hosts a discussion about the media coverage. Guests include Lynn Paltrow of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Jennifer Pozner of Women In Media & News (WIMN), and Sunsara Taylor, a writer for Revolution Newspaper and an abortion provider.
What Happens Next
News coverage and updates from the Wichita Eagle: kansas.com/tiller
Sad News in Closing of George Tiller’s Clinic: “Who can blame George Tiller’s family for declining to re-open his clinic?” asks Barb Shelly, Kansas City Star editorial page columnist. “But the clinic’s closing means the killer has achieved his objective. That’s a thought akin to an open wound. The decision also means, for Kansas women in crisis, a yawning gap between abortion clinics in the Kansas City area and Denver.”
Closed Clinic Leaves Abortion Protesters at a Loss: “Over almost 20 years, a vocal, diverse constellation of anti-abortion forces has grown up in this conservative city with an intensity rarely seen elsewhere, converging around Dr. Tiller’s practice. With his death, its future suddenly seems uncertain, too,” writes Monica Davey at The New York Times.
Why I Plan to Emulate Dr. George Tiller: Rozalyn Farmer Love, a third-year medical student, writes at the Atlanta Journal Constitution about her plan to become an obstetrician-gynecologist. “I dream of delivering healthy babies, working with families and supporting midwifery. But as part of my practice, I also envision providing abortions to women who need them.”
The Circle Continues: “Dr. Leroy Carhart, a physician who provides abortions for women in need and who for many years provided later term abortions in his home state of Nebraska, will temporarily take over Dr. Tiller’s medical practice in Kansas,” reports Amie Newman at RH Reality Check. “Dr. Carhart, still a practicing provider, is most well known for his involvement in two Supreme Court cases, Stenberg v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Carhart, which challenged and then upheld the ban on the politically termed “Partial Birth Abortion.”
The Compassion of Dr. Tiller: “There are two other clinics that do late-term abortions, but neither are known for taking patients regardless of their ability to pay or for ministering so comprehensively to their emotional needs. Tiller’s murder leaves a void that could imperil women across the country,” writes Michelle Goldberg at The American Prospect.
Attorney General Directs U.S. Marshals to Protect Women’s Health Clinics, Providers: “U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dispatched the U.S. Marshals Service to protect “appropriate people and facilities around the nation” in the wake of the killing Sunday morning of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas,” reports Ernest Luning.
Recollections From Tiller’s Patients
The George Tiller I Knew: A diary entry at Daily Kos.
Where Will Women Go Now?: Over at Salon’s Broadsheet, Kate Harding quotes from a number of personal narratives posted online.
Statements from Reproductive Rights Groups