On the Murder of Dr. George Tiller


(cross-posted at Isak)

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:

 

Peace, my friends. Peace.

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  • heather-corinna

    Thanks for this today, Anna.

  • colleen

    Thank you, Anna for this diary and your excellent links. Dr Tiller was a man of immense courage and decency; he saved the lives of many women and in doing so made himself the target of the worst our culture has to offer.

  • amie-newman

    Many I know, knew him. Dr. Tiller was a brave man but a man who did what he felt he needed to do – help women who needed help. Isn’t it time the broader pro-life community figures out how they play a role in these acts of violence and takes concrete action to STOP them?! My heart goes out to Dr. Tiller’s family, friends and community.

    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • invalid-0

    Thank you Anna for the recommendations you gave for organizations to which people can donate to honor Dr. Tiller. I also ask that people consider donating to the National Network of Abortion Funds (www.nnaf.org), which provides critical funding for women in need.

    I am so sad about this terrible loss, and the thought of all of the women who will have nowhere to turn now.

  • think4urself

    I just read about Dr. Tiller’s murder and as I read I felt my heart drop. I hope justice is done for Dr. Tiller, his family and friends. Thank you for listing your recommended organizations Anna. And thank you too Anonymous for your recommendation of the National Network of Abortion Funds. ~Never let others do your thinking for you~

  • invalid-0

    Thank goodness they have a suspect. I’m so glad we don’t live in a country where a gunman can commit this sort of crime and simply disappear, with total impunity. I don’t know how law enforcement does it, but I’m glad they do it so well. And I look forward to seeing this guy rot in prison.

  • invalid-0

    I agree with your thoughts about the murder. However, everyone needs to remember that he was also a murderer. There is no difference between killing babies and killing an adult. I don’t understand what could make it right to some people. The only difference I see is that this baby has not even had a chance to live yet. Why do you shun his murder, but then encourage others to donate $$ to help out abortion which is also murder???

    • invalid-0

      Dr. Tiller never killed babies. He was never charged or convicted of the murder, or even the assault, of anybody. A fetus is not a baby, and abortion is not murder. I’m sorry that you’re so confused. Even so, it’s inappropriate to accuse a respected doctor, women’s rights activist, and murder victim of being a serial killer when he’s not even been dead a whole day. Don’t you have any shame?

    • http://mega-tokyo.blogspot.com/ invalid-0

      While abortion will be favourable business for hundreds thousand the “professionals” fed on abortive clinics with that or a different way, propagation of abortions will be sponsored by millions dollars.

  • invalid-0

    you’re a coward. if you are truly supporting murder then you should at least own up to it.

  • invalid-0

    You seem to be assuming that the good Doctor’s murderer was “anti-abortion”.

    What facts do you have to back this up?

  • invalid-0

    by the post you responded to…..

    Why the emotional reaction?

  • invalid-0

    While it is disappointing that Dr. Tiller was murdered today, we must keep in mind that he was a violent man. Dr. Tiller admitted that he was responsible for performing over 60,000 abortions in his career. In 2009, We know that children suffer pain in the womb, cry in the womb and can live outside the womb at a much earlier stage of development. These are facts that were not known in 1972. And while the law will probably never be overturned, Americans need to realize that we all have blood on our hands anytime an unborn child or their murderer is summarily executed. Everyone is so angry about torturing a Muslim extremist that wants to kill Americans, because it’s against our laws. However, Government sponsored murder of innocent children is fully acceptable and encouraged by planned parenthood’s new poster child Barry Obama. God help us.

    • independentminded

      While it is disappointing that Dr. Tiller was murdered today, we must keep in mind that he was a violent man

       

      Dr. George Tiller was a violent man?!?  What about the guy who murdered him in cold blood, and other people like Scott Roeder, who’ve killed doctors, patients and clinic workers alike?  They’re not violent?   The argument for supposedly protecting the innocent, unborn children doesn’t even begin to hold water.  The fertilized egg and/or the fetus are each a blueprint for a human life, but they’re not human beings per se, until they’re fully developed and outside the  mother’s womb.

       

      Considering that we’re still killing innocent babies that’re already born and named, not to mention other children and adults,  in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, not to mention that we’ve done that in tons of other places,  it’s rather hypocritical to be so hysterical about "all those unborn" children.  A woman has the right to control over her own body and to make the choice that’s best for her.

       

  • invalid-0

    Dr. Tiller was a saint. He didn’t give late term abortions to women who were just too lazy to schedule their abortions sooner, these were WANTED pregnancies. Dr. Tiller gave abortions to women whose fetus was either badly deformed and wouldn’t survive birth, dead in the womb, had a genetic abnormality, or whose lives were in danger. I think that a woman is more important than a fetus, but you seem to think that fetuses are more important than the women carrying them. As long as a fetus grows in a womans’s body, abortion will happen, illegal or not. They happen more under GW BUSH ( the monster that is responsible for the death of over 3.0000 of our servicepeople, and 100s of thousands of Iraqi civilians, including women and children, not to mention killing people using exceution in Texas, some of who were surely innocent of the crimes they were “convicted” of, due to poor legal representation) Jon, I think that you have a lot of nerve to show up and preach your twisted version of Dr. Tiller and his life. Especially TODAY.

    (Editor’s note: This post was edited to conform with our commenting policy.)

  • amie-newman

    by “Mark” and as such responses to the comment were also automatically deleted. The comment was inappropriate and was not in keeping with our commenting policy which states that “…we will delete without further explanation comments that threaten, demean, or decrease the civility of discussion.” Mark’s comment was inappropriate on many levels.

    Amie Newman

    Managing Editor, RH Reality Check

  • therealistmom

    .. has been linked to posts at Operation Rescue. The fact the man was deliberately gunned down after decades of threats from anti-choice extremists, in a place where he would not have been wearing his bulletproof vest (protesters would know that he had to protect himself in this manner when going to work)  and the fact there really would be little other obvious motive to kill this man who provided needed services to so many suffering women and families… it doesn’t take much to make the link to an anti-choice extremist motivation.

  • therealistmom

    This is a tragedy of great proportions that will sadly end up being used by the intellectually challenged to justify hatred and misogyny. I honestly can’t remember when a news story gave me such a visceral gut-shot reaction. Dr. Tiller was an amazingly brave man to follow his convictions and ensure that women and their families were given the care they needed during agonizing choices, helping them mourn the loss of a wanted potential child and ensuring that the health and dignity of these women was maintained. How many people would bounce back from the kinds of terrorism inflicted upon him and continue their work? He was a physician; if he wanted to he could have found work that did not endanger him in such a way. He truly wanted to help people… BORN people, people who feel, live, love. Please rest in peace Dr. Tiller and I hope for your family the ability to wear the onslaught that is sure to come in the wake of his death.

  • invalid-0

    I have just been so upset about this! Very few things make me this upset. The man, Dr. Tiller, was a SAINT. I know that after I calm down, I will think of better ways to help women and remember Dr. Tiller. I didn’t sleep at all last night. (after locking myself out of of my house, and having to crawl into a window to get in.) The only positive thoughts that I had was that maybe, just maybe, the women who Dr. Tiller helped would come out and give testimonials about how this man helped him (annoymously, of course so as not to endanger their own lives by these deranged predators against women, or home grown terrorists.) and that Justice will be swift and sure for his murderer.

  • invalid-0

    whoops, that was what I meant to say, instead of him, (see above.)

  • anna-clark

    I was remiss to not give a shout out to NNAF–a wonderful organization! Thanks for bringing them out. They’d be a great place to donate.

    • invalid-0

      NNAF just started a specific fund for those wishing to donate in Dr. Tiller’s name called the Dr. George Tiller Memorial Fund. Please take part if you can. If you can’t; volunteer. No clinic in your neighborhood; be creative and be safe.

      Praying for peace and equity,
      Frances

  • anna-clark

    … police made the obvious connection between Tiller’s death and extreme anti-abortion views; they immediately went to his clinic after his murder to offer protection against any potential violence there.

    As well, given Tiller’s history and the fact that he was shot in his church on Sunday morning (while not one other person was hurt and the murderer left immediately after the shooting), it seems bewildering to not see the connection.

    • anna-clark

      "The man arrested for Tiller’s murder, Scott Roeder, posted
      at least one comment on the website of the anti-abortion group
      Operation Rescue suggesting that anti-abortion activists attend
      Tiller’s church en masse. According to local news reports, he had the
      group’s phone number on a Post-it in his car when he was arrested."

      See Michelle Goldberg’s full article here.

      I have also heard that U.S. marshals are providing security at other clinics today.

    • invalid-0

      At the time you wrote your blog entry, no real evidence…..

      I am not suggesting he was not “anti-choice”. But, staying within the facts is usually a good idea?

  • harry834

    I don’t fully agree with the RH decision to erase Marc’s comment. I understand some of the wisdom of denying them air time, but I have some thoughts.
    Check them out:

    http://harryfourthuniverse.blogspot.com/2009/06/only-psych-would-agree-with-murderer-of.html

     

     

  • invalid-0

    I have a couple of suggestions in addition to the ones above. While it is a good start that AG Holder to make federal marshals available to protect other providers, the sad fact is, the anti-abortion terrorists feel themselves bound by no law of man, and they will not stop their attacks until they are all in prison. With a view toward that day, I urge you to write to your representatives and senators with these requests:

    (1) With all due respect to Deputy Police Chief Stolz, the suspect acted alone only in the sense that no one else drove his getaway car. He acted in concert with every fundamentalist whackjob who called abortion providers murderers and especially the ones who put up hit lists. For starters, let’s have the FBI impound the suspect’s computer, examine his browser history, and see what websites he visited that advocated violence against abortion doctors. Then, arrest every webmaster of those sites and charge him/her with aiding and abetting a felony at least, and conspiracy to commit terrorism if possible. The time to pretend these people are law-abiding citizens who are just exercising their First Amendment rights is over. Freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot shout, “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and you cannot incite murder.

    (2) Although it will not directly put anyone in jail, if ever the time was ripe to reintroduce the Freedom of Choice Act, this is it. This act will at least prohibit state and local governments from kowtowing to anti-choice wingnuts and will provide a basis for civil action against their organizations by the women they harass.

  • emma

    I started to cry when I first saw the news headline on my homepage. I admire George Tiller so much. He helped women whose lives were risked by their pregnancies, and those carrying foetuses with abnormalities so severe as to be incompatible with life. As far as I’ve read, he was gentle, compassionate and caring with his patients – women who were in the horrible situation of having to terminate a wanted pregnancy.

    This man risked his life every day as he went to work to care for his patients. I don’t think I’ve ever used the word ‘hero’ to describe someone, but George Tiller was a hero.

  • invalid-0

    It’s through RHRealityCheck I keep up with the latest news across the US regarding reproductive rights, and I’m very appreciative of all the comments and links to keep me up to date.
    It truly is a sad day when these anti-abortion extremist groups justify their abberant behavior under the guise of “christianity”. Murder is murder, you can’t preach against one type of so called “murder”, then condone another.
    I have yet to see, or know of, an anti abortion group opening up a home for unwanted children, or a hospital, hospice, funding to take care of the severely damaged babies they want unprepared women to birth. Where are those groups’ adoption agencies?
    Show me real alternatives! Until then, a legal, medically sound procedure should not be undermined by groups who do not think out the consequenses.

  • invalid-0

    Some people who support abortion were fooled by the pro abortion fallacy that a fertilized egg is not a child…. nor is an undifferentiated mass of cells but this is a lie. If not a child what ? Each one of us reading and submitting comments were once a tiny collection of cells in a womb. Are we not glad we were allowed to live?
    I pray for the Tiller family ;it is awful to lose a loved one through an act of violence and I also pray for Scott Roeder who sadly like Dr Tiller resorted to violence as a solution Abortion is never a solution for anyone It is always a death sentence for the baby and a life sentence for the poor mother A deliberate decision to abort goes totally against the natural instincts of a woman to nurture and protect and it is very damaging to the body heart and mind of any poor soul who endures such an experience.If we really care about women’s health we can neither condone allow or encourage abortion.There are some things in life which are simply wrong Both slavery and abortion treat a human being as if it is a disposable asset. The child in the womb is not the property of the mother nor is it the property of the father It is a new citizen with rights that should be upheld and respected in Law. ”

  • http://www.dizi-izle.gen.tr invalid-0

    I started to cry when I first saw the news headline on my homepage. I admire George Tiller so much. He helped women whose lives were risked by their pregnancies, and those carrying foetuses with abnormalities so severe as to be incompatible with life.

  • http://www.sohbetodalari.org invalid-0

    Dr Tiller resorted to violence as a solution Abortion is never a solution for anyone It is always a death sentence for the baby and a life sentence for the poor mother A deliberate decision to abort goes totally against the natural instincts of a woman to nurture and protect and it is very damaging to the body heart and mind of any poor soul who endures such an experience.If we really care about women’s health we can neither condone allow or encourage abortion.There are some things in life which are simply wrong Both slavery and abortion treat a human being as if it is a disposable asset. The child in the womb

  • invalid-0

    A deliberate decision to abort goes totally against the natural instincts of a woman to nurture and protect and it is very damaging to the body heart and mind of any poor soul who endures such an experience.

    Well thank you ever so much for telling us how we feel, or how we ought to feel. Perhaps you would also like to tell us how we feel, or should feel about…say.. a stillbirth, or two…or losing the virginity…or menopause…or the birth of children…or any career aspirations…or a successful/adequate failing marriage? Please, tell us how we feel, or should feel, about our life experiences. It is not like mere women are equipped to make such determinations all by themselves.

  • crowepps

    A deliberate decision to abort goes totally against the natural instincts of a woman

    If something is a "natural instinct" then it will be displayed by all members of the group.  If instead something is a "cultural myth" then it will need to be enforced by the culture, for instance by outlawing abortion or punishing women who kill their children.

     

    I agree with you that there are some things which are simply wrong — in American, the most basic wrong is making private decisions for other people on the basis that one’s personal ‘morals’ and religion are superior to theirs.