So Tiller's story and his work have shaped my own opinions, my own decisions, about where to stand in the abortion debate. Tiller could have operated with more safety in many other locations, but he chose, instead, to stay in Wichita, to offer health services -- yes, including late-term abortions -- to the women of south central Kansas and Oklahoma, women who already see their options for care reduced by distance and time. George Tiller kept going to work after he was shot in 1993; he kept going to work after his clinic was bombed; he kept going to work after numerous threats, after vandalism earlier this month, after protests. He kept going to work, and I have to believe that's because he felt it was his duty to help women get the best care possible, and to help us -- no, to allow us to make some of the most difficult decisions we face.
As a Kansan, my sadness is both for Tiller's family and for my state, which finds itself not just deprived of a necessary physician but also thrust back into the culture-war spotlight. We deserve to be there, perhaps -- Kansas is a crossroads for religious conservatives and old-school progressives -- but what a terrible way to reignite the conversation. Tiller kept going to work -- and I hope his death ends up as meaningful as his life. I hope this starts an honest, national discussion of the dangers that Tiller faced, and that the women who trudged through the protesting crowds just to receive care faced.
But what terrible means to achieve this end.