Orbital Matters

Saturn Smith
Editor’s Pick
MAY 31, 2009 5:00PM

A Kansan's Elegy for George Tiller

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George TillerDr. George Tiller, the well-known Kansas doctor, was shot to death today at his church in Wichita.  Tiller has been a fixture in Kansas my whole life.  I was in grade school during the Operation Rescue's "Summer of Mercy," 1991, when Randall Terry led daily protests and blockades outside of Tiller's Women's Health clinic in Wichita.  Wichita was an hour from where I grew up and our main source of nightly news, which meant that my mother spent several evenings that summer trying to explain to preteen girls what this whole mess was about.  

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.
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He would not be bowed. We must not be bowed. Right to life? Evidently not.
Saturn, I am on the prolife side of the issue, however two wrongs do not make a right. I believe that unborn babies are babies non the less and in my estimation Tiller was a murderer in his own right. He may have done it out of compassion for women, but it may have been the money...abortion is a very lucrative business. But...the law is the law and if it is legal and we disagree, we need to change the law. It is a sad day for his family and they have my sympathy for their loss. I am prejudiced as my daughter is now 9 months pregnant. If the baby was aborted, it would to me most certainly be murder. Lael is very real to me as a person already. http://photos-g.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc1/hs057.snc1/4513_519562111788_58702043_30976358_1099223_n.jpg
Another horrific and sad moment in our history. Dr. Tiller once helped save the life of one of my college students. and that was back when he was the only doc in the country performing late term abortions. He was a man who truly lived his convictions, and now sadly, had to die for it. It just makes me sad.
Stacey -exactly. One wonders why more Right to Lifers didn't see fit to protect him as valiantly as the unborn. I guess it's only CERTAIN lives they feel have a 'right' to exist.
Thanks Saturn...

It makes perfect sense to me that anybody who considers us humans the moment we have growing bodies would consider abortions to mean that an actual life is ending. I happen to be pro-choice even though I do consider abortion to be the ending of a human's life.

And I agree with you very much that hopefully this tragic event will open the door for some real conversations regarding this issue.

It seems to me that those who are pro-choice need to eventually get the point where we don't shy away from acknowledging that we each probably have a body the moment it starts growing. Not a very radical notion (and it seems more reasonable than most speculations that assume we don’t have our body until it’s grown for a certain period of time). And it seems that the pro-life people need to get to the point of acknowledging that the right to life is not inherently unconditional (there are many instances in which most right-to-lifers easily acknowledge this point).

Each side can maintain their conclusions, but if they made the effort to see that the other side is making an extremely valid basic point we'd have taken a huge step forward in this conversation, I think. It would be the kind of step that would make room for much more respect.

As long as pro-choicers avoid acknowledging that a growing body is a whole that is alive and belongs to the grower, their arguments will remain reactive and shallow (I’m not referring to the right to privacy as shallow). As long as the anti-abortion folks refuse to acknowledge that the right to life is very often qualified for all sorts of reasons, their position will smack of the hypocritical.

I know nothing of how Mr. Tiller articulated the nature of his work and of the issue of abortion in general. I want to inform myself now. But, more than anything, I feel the need to simply share my sadness regarding the way his life was ended. I hope both sides can eventually breathe deeply and allow their position to grow a bit wider and more complicated.
The Sage Journal reminds me that everyone is not up to speed on abortion law. . .

We've got to get the real stories of when late term abortions take place, and why, to combat any who would find even an ounce of sympathy for Dr. Tiller's murder. . .

To suggest he was in it for the money. . . geez.
a church is supposed to be a sanctuary free from the evils of rhetoric, insanity and violence. How sad...
Apparently I was misunderstood again. I mean...that it is at the moment abortion is legal. I don't know what the law in terms of late abortions is valid in Kansas. I do know that in places it is legal and if we are opposed to it we need to change the law. As for suggesting he did it for the money...I said maybe he did, maybe he didn't. There are those Doctors that do it for the money...I don't know whether he was one or not. I do think it's sad that he died by the hand of someone calling themselves a Christian. Like I said, two wrongs don't make a right. Murder is murder...justice should be left to those enforcing the law and since what he was doing was not unlawful, even though I disagree with it, the person that took the action of murder should be condemned and also be left to the justice of those enforcing the law.
This is one of your most powerful posts, Saturn. Thank you for this, and for honoring Dr. Tiller with your words.

An aside, I am going to Kansas this week to give a presentation to policy makers and advocates. I've already been told what words to avoid when I speak: Obama, legal immigrants, expanding benefits, etc...
This is a wonderful tribute to a brave man.

He did it for the friggin' money after being shot, vandalized, and threatened.

You seem well-meaning and you can write . . . but think.before.you.type particularly when the post to which you are responding is a MEMORIUM.

Saturn would be too civilized and diplomatic to tell you this. She rises above righteous indignation. Most of the time I can too . . . the man is dead and this post is not about your daughter or grandchild no matter how lovely they may be.
Another thoughtful post. The last thing this world needs is another martyr, but it seems the violent zealots are more than happy to make as many as they can, oblivious to how it corrodes all they claim to stand for. I won't even get started on "the abortion issue", but even some leaders on the "pro-life" side see the damage this sort of barbaric violence does to their cause. Will the pro-lifers, like the G.O.P. now try to banish those non-extremists who don't embrace & applaud this assassination?
I wish people could have an articulate, compassionate conversation about this profoundly polarizing issue, but that doesn't seem to be an option.
Sage, you've got to remember that this isn't about you. You should celebrate the birth of your granddaughter, but you shouldn't extend your feelings about it to everyone else.

I've had two miscarriages, and was never able to have the child I wanted. By all rights, I should be running around telling women not to have abortions, because they don't know what a precious gift they've been given.

But, that would be wrong. Because they're not me. Their lives, their circumstances, everything about them is unique to them. I can't make that call for them.

If there's one thing, and one thing only, that I learned by being pregnant for two brief periods of time - no one should carry a child to term if they're not ready to do so.

The symbolism of killing Dr. Tiller in a church makes my blood run cold. It seems to be saying that there is no safe place, and it also seems that the murderer wanted to put Dr. Tiller in the place where he would "meet his maker", so to speak. And I don't believe that the symbolism will be lost on any other medical practitioner who provides abortion services.
Thank you, Saturn.
Late-term abortions are rarely (if ever) a matter of whim.

In general, they are to save a woman's life and/or if the fetus is not viable, to preserve her fertility. Requiring a woman to continue to carry a dead or non-viable fetus is inhumane. I sincerely doubt that a vet would not have to require the same of an animal.

If, as I've read, Dr. Tiller, also performed abortions on some very young girls, in the age 10-12 range, I must applaud him again for doing so. How could anyone think it possible for a child so young to safely deliver an infant and not to suffer some form of PTSD afterwards?

Frankly, I must consider the notion that doctors like Dr. Tiller perform abortions for the money as completely ludicrous. Why would anyone choose as a method of making money an action that brings an entire political movement down upon one's head, complete with death threats, and previous attempts on one's life? Positively ludicrous. Clearly, he appreciated the importance of his work. Work that so few others were wiling to do.

I cannot be as polite as you are, Saturn. Perhaps it is my age.
This was a very touching tribute. I can only echo what others have said and ask those that would support his murder why an unborn child's life is more sacred than his.
I read somewhere that he wore a button that said "Trust Women". What a radical concept. He was a couragous, compassionate man and it's horrifying that he was murdered, in church no less.

In the mid-90's I had the honor of demonstrating in his support at his office in Wichita. It's really just horrible that his services will no longer be available in the midwest.

Thanks for writing this Saturn, from one Kansan to another.
I said this elsewhere and will say it here...it does make my blood boil:

From O'Reilly to the Taliban, indeed any faith or political ideology (read: civil religion) that instigates hate and violence because the other doesn't believe as the "faithful" is complicit in the heinous acts committed in its name.
thanks Saturn, for your personal humanizing touch on this tragedy
I guess the life in "pro life" only applies to unborn babies and fetuses' lives. Adult life doesn't count.
May his death spark a movement. I made a donation to Planned Parenthood today, in memory of him.
Isn't it a fundamental precept of the right that everyone has the right to make as much money as they can regardless of who it hurts? It makes me sick when people trot out that tired old accusation. I echo what Dorinda said, and furthermore, I guarantee you this doctor could have made a whole lot more money doing something much less dangerous. He did it because he knew that women needed his services and I bet any amount of money that a lot of women didn't pay a cent for his help.
This is terrorism, pure and simple. The question is, will Obama make it part of the "War on Terror."

The NY Times said "Some described Dr. Tiller as one of about only three doctors in the country who had, under certain circumstances, provided abortions to women in their third trimester of pregnancy, and said his death would mean that women, particularly in the central United States, would have few if any options in such cases."

Three in the country. This is exactly what the anti-choice, the anti-women forces in this country have been doing since Roe v Wade. There is a saying among lawyers: If you don't have the facts, argue the law. If you don't have the law, argue the facts. If you have neither, pound on the table. Except, these hateful people pound with guns and bombs, by terrorizing people. They have neither the law nor the facts on their side, so they have turned to terror. But, politicians, and the Supreme Court under the women-haters (now at the peak of their power) in the US have not gone after them, have not acted to protect people, have encouraged them by denigrating women with their ugly and unconstitutional attacks demanding that women get permission get permission from their husbands, that girls get permission from parents who often will turn that girl into a baby factory for the greater glory of a sick and anti-life ideology. This Supreme encourages legislatures to make it as hard as possible to get a fully legal and very safe medical procedure while under attack.

Three providers in the country. I am outraged and disgusted.
Thanks, everyone, for your thoughtful comments so far. catnmus, your idea of a Plenned Parenthood donation in his honor seems a fitting tribute; there was also a candlelight vigil held in Wichita tonight, I hear. The PPFA donation site is here; their statement on Tiller's murder is here.

I'm reading comments as they come in, but I think I've said what I want on this event for the moment, and I'll just leave the commenting to others who need a chance to discuss, decompress, and wonder, like I did.
I, too, want to thank you for this wonderful memorial to a man who repeatedly risked his life for the sake and love of women. In addition to providing late term abortions, and abortions to very young women, he also provided other reproductive health services, such as contraception, to which women have had shrinking access over the past 8 years. If I could add another link? NARAL is conducting organizing efforts to ensure that "the full weight of the law [is] used to send a clear message that these types of attacks will be prosecuted fully and swiftly." Those so inclined can join their action network here: http://action.prochoiceamerica.org/site/R?i=eXiegHdwqHE4km6MfdUdzw.. Rated and reddited.
You can go here to read about Kansas laws regarding late term abortions.


The practice is limited and conditional. I think it is extremely important to get out the word that viable infants of healthy mothers are not being aborted willy-nilly across the land.

If you've ever known a woman who needed this procedure-- you know the stories are heartbreaking. And thankfully rare. But if you or someone you love is in this terrible position. . . you'd want someone like Dr. Tiller to help.
A local news anchor introduced the Tiller story earlier this sentence: "A Kansas doctor's willingness to perform abortions has put an end to his life."

Ah, life in the Bible Belt... So it was doctor's own behavior that did him in, huh? Not the actions of some deranged Bible thumper?

Nothing like objective journalism.
This was a lovely tribute to a man who gave his life protecting the lives of women and young girls. "Right to Life" only means right to life for a certain few.
To suggest that Dr. Tiller may have been 'in it for the money' makes as much sense as suggesting that his patients subjected themselves to late-term abortion as a quick way to lose weight.

A woman who has been pregnant for six or seven months doesn't terminate her pregnancy on a whim. Of all the women who choose abortion, these women are the least likely to feel as if they had a choice. Late term abortion is rare, not just because doctors are intimidated, but because it is a solution of last resort - often a heartbreaking one for the expectant father, grandparents and siblings as well as the woman who undergoes the procedure.

Soon, if the lunatic fringe have their way, there will be no last resort - except for women who can afford, and are well enough, to travel outside the United States for medical care. If the anti-choice lobby has its way, ultimately we'll have pregnant women surrendering their passports to their obgyns.
Thanks for the personal take on this. It hit me pretty hard too, it's not just a political issue to me. These folks are terrorists as far as I'm concerned, and they don't represent either "side" of the issue.
To echo those responding to thesagejournal--sage, you clearly aren't familiar with the profession. The kind of doctor who is in it for the money is highly unlikely to be interested in providing abortion services, let alone late-term procedures in the Midwest.

Bill O'Reilly kept spouting that the late-term procedures cost $5,000. Maybe they would cost less if the wingnuts he incites didn't keep blowing up, vandalizing, and booby-trapping clinics, driving doctors out of the profession, and making them uninsurable. Not to mention you can hardly get a routine appendectomy for $5,000, and nobody will shoot you for that.

But sure, he must have been it in the money. A good and proper Christian conclusion to draw over the warm body of a murder victim who has taken three bullets from two shooters, at his own workplace and at his own church.
How sad. Once again the pro-life people use death to make their point.

Fear is their weapon of choice, as with many terrorists, there is no debating the topic. The pro-life people will not rest until they have their way. They will not listen to discussions or consider other opinions.

Freedom to choose is not an option for them. But killing doctors is. It's beyond rational thought, yet we see this closed mind mania, whenever we are not in lock-step with those of blind faith.
It's religion-fueled terrorism.

Scott Roeder, Dr. Tiller's assassin, was a member of the Freemen arrested in 1996 with bomb-making materials in his car, and bomb-making instructions in his home. If he were a Muslim fundamentalist, every group he belonged to, every charity he donated to, every person who knew him, who employed him, who socialized with him, with whom he spoke on the phone or exchanged emails, the sponsors of every Web site he visited regularly, would all be targets of our national security apparatus.

Do you think any of that's likely to happen in this case?
Comments on comments:

"I said maybe he did, maybe he didn't. There are those Doctors that do it for the money...I don't know whether he was one or not."

I have one response to this: Oh, please!

"I guess the life in 'pro life' only applies to unborn babies and fetuses' lives. Adult life doesn't count."

The concern stops, actually before birth. So many of the so-called pro-life folks are against social services, that provide prenatal care. And even if they manage to bring their concern to the actual baby, before it leaves the womb, they stop advocating for the child at birth.

"These folks are terrorists as far as I'm concerned."

These folks are terrorists, as someone else noted, as far as our laws are concerned. Unfortunately, at least until now, the PTB have been as unwilling to enforce those laws as those calling for prosecuting torturers.

"Once again the pro-life people use death to make their point."
I suggest that those of us who are actually pro-life, not use the -lnguage of our enemy. So-called pro-life, "pro-life" anti-choice, anti-abortion. Never pro-life.
Thank you for this personal take on the murder of Dr. Tiller, Saturn. How tragic and depressing...One can only hope that some anti-abortion activists may be horrified enough by the act that has been carried out in the name of their movement to reconsider their position, or at least their activism.

In the roughly 20 years that I have been living in Europe, I have never heard of the murder of a European doctor who performs abortions. I don't think there are even protests organized near medical facilities where abortions are performed. Certainly there are groups here that are opposed to abortion, but they don't seem to consider violence to be acceptable.
There is a screw loose, rolling around on the floor. George II is pro-life, and was not for profit? Just how is that spelled? If our good doctor was there for the money, cosmetic surgery would have been a better bet. How moral human compassion can be backhanded for what's religiously right is disgusting. We have toxic assets and poverty abounding. What a cocktail. Pass the chalice, I would never have thought to order one for myself. It's like setting the fire truck on fire and praying for rain. The killing of a doctor is an act of terrorism. In war they are given white flags. Apparently in our garden not all doctors are correct enough. The mental health of this country is appalling, when the murder of a doctor is exempt from the concerns of each and every heart. Like mothers, they are the sacred that sustains this life.
Good post, Saturn. I have to believe that many anti-abortion folks are genuinely horrified at this. But if so they must look closely at the rheteric and dualism among their adherents that promotes this violence. The left repudiated the Weathermen. I hope they speak out to one another and condemn this crime.

As a Kansan originally I gotta think: the killer must be from Texas. No corn-fed true blue son of a Jayhawk would do this.
The person who shot Dr. Tiller should be apprehended (I gather this has happened), tried, and convicted for first-degree, premeditated murder. I'd also apply the death penalty, but that's an issue for the another day.

I would also hope that the murder not be trivialized by making it the a rallying point to villify political opponents or TV pundits.

Finally, I hope the debate you advocate includes a discussion of whether it might be possible to encourage women to exercise their sacred "right to choose" a little earlier on than when a baby is emerging from the womb. There are many earlier opportunities, you know.
"the a" Choose one; sorry for both.
"the another " Lose the "the." Sorry.
If anyone wants to read about a real woman who had a late-term abortion, Salon ran a story about it several years ago. I would encourage anyone who wonders why this procedure is performed to read about it here.
In addition to Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Missouri, contributions in memory of Dr. Tiller can also be made to the Peggy Bowman Second Chance Fund. Information about PBSCF can be found at http://www.pbscf.org/index_files/aboutpbscf.html
Thank you, Jeanette, for the link to Viki Wilson's powerfully moving story. I have to consider anyone who could read that story - or millions of others like it, differing only in relative degree of suffering - and continue to insist that women who choose abortion do so frivolously or for convenience, or that doctors perform them do so "for the money," are themselves sadly lacking in humanity, compassion, and love.
Bill Michtom... I am not particularly optimistic about Obama's practical response to Tiller's death, and what it will mean for women everywhere.

I still remember Obama's noting that a woman's decision about whether to have an abortion is something to be discussed and decided by a woman, her husband (or partner) and her pastor. Sounds like one woman and two men... in most cases.

As I noted in FLW's blog post about this same issue, I read somewhere in the last few days that Dr. Tiller wore a button that said "Trust Women." Anti-choicers aside, our culture has a very long way to go before we can say that has happened.
I am an adamant pro-choice person, but late-term abortions should not be done. If the pregnancy goes beyond 3 months, hopefully less, it should be carried to term. But of course that's my opinion and I don't even have my uterus anymore.
Kansas has been under siege on several fronts for some time; I'm thinking particularly of the school board/court controversies over teaching evolution and creationism. Let's hope Kansas has enough people who can open not just their hearts but also their minds and maybe, while they're at it, their vocal chords in protest.
Late term abortions are done for sound medical reasons. They are very rare but sometimes medically necessary. One of the comments here states that he is a "murderer." This is exactly the problem we have right now. This man was NOT a murderer. In some cases late term abortions are medically necessary.
Thank you, Saturn, for a powerful piece. What happened to Dr. Tiller makes no sense, none at all.
@Kevin Lee: A local news anchor introduced the Tiller story earlier this sentence: "A Kansas doctor's willingness to perform abortions has put an end to his life."

@Kevin Lee: A local news anchor introduced the Tiller story earlier this sentence: "A Kansas doctor's willingness to perform abortions has put an end to his life."

Disgusting, but not surprising.

@GordonO: " I hope the debate you advocate includes a discussion of whether it might be possible to encourage women to exercise their sacred "right to choose" a little earlier on than when a baby is emerging from the womb."

Think much?
Thank you for you eloquence (and I enjoyed your video interview). All has been said. His murder is an outrage.

You may not have your uterus, DD, but you've got your common sense.

As for the terrorism nonsense, I say the following:

OK, I'm convinced. Send this latest "terrorist" to Gitmo where he can enjoy a climate a hell of a lot better than Kansas and be treated to internet access and other amenities. After a while, Obama may close Gitmo and send him back to the U.S. with a stipend to be sure his antisocial conduct does not recur.

What I don't understand is where this hatred of men is coming from. In case you hadn't noticed, the Rowe v. Wade court did not consist only of women.

And Rowe was a good decision, but it clearly held that the states have a right to require women to act prudently in exercising the right to choose.

And yet some say that it's a woman's choice from conception to birth. To let a life develop within you knowing that you can take your time on a decision to abort right up to the point of birth strikes me as incredibly callous and insensitive. I also think it's born of hatred for men, including, most particularly the one who impregnated, who of course has no rights whatsoever in the a man-hating world.

"I would hope that being a woman my judgments will more often than not be better than a man's." Sound familiar?
I had no idea that the terrorists of pro-life had won. I'm obviously not well informed and so was shocked and disgusted to learn that there were only three Doctors in the U.S. who performed late-term abortions.
That fact should scare the shit out of everyone...this country can truly be convinced, intimidated, converted to any belief as long as some terrorists are willing to take the long view and continue to keep the pressure on,...a few demonstrations, a few murders but with no end in sight unless there is total capitulation to the belief.
PRO-LIFE is a hypocritical and extremely dangerous concept.

After we've banned abortions I wonder what we will ban next.
As Debra Sweet points out in her article that I've cross-posted at my blog "George Tiller: A Hero for People Who Care About the Humanity of Women" indicates, this murder is the logical outcome of two related threads:

1) the Christian fascist movement that received the accolades and support of the Bush White House and that calls for the subservience of women (which is why they want to abolish abortion and make women second-class citizens who don't even have rights over their own bodies and health) as part and parcel of a reactionary agenda; and

2) Democrats such as Obama who counsel that we should seek "common ground" with said fascists/murderers who want nothing less than to kill those who disagree with them.

There is no common ground with fascists and those who counsel us that there is are creating the conditions for despicable acts as the murder of Dr. Tiller who heroically carried out despite the threats against his life. As another poster correctly notes, Dr. Tiller used to wear a button that said "Trust Women."
Sorry, typo: my last comment should have read "who heroically carried ON despite the threats against his life..."
this is a lovely piece.
or more exactly, sad but lovely.
Because you usually seem to be doing well enough already, I read but don't rate or comment on your posts. I do want you to know I'm here and appreciate your work, though. The addition of your personal connection puts this post in the stratosphere, to my mind.
Thanks for this thoughtful piece. I am shocked as well and saddened my home state is the setting for this crime......
The murder in a church, but they claim to have God on their side.... true insanity!
"I'm obviously not well informed and so was shocked and disgusted to learn that there were only three Doctors in the U.S. who performed late-term abortions. "

I don't suppose that could be because thousands of doctors think it's a bad idea and an unnecessary capitulation to the negligence of mothers-to-be. No, let's imagine that it's aother big national right-wing conspiracy. It's much more enjoyable.
A first-person account that's a must-read:

There is a book, not about Dr. Tiller or abortion, but about Kansas (and other places in a similar state): "What's the Matter with Kansas?". This may be a good time to read it.
Dr. Tiller may end up as an unwilling martyr whose death by assasination sparks a long overdue dialogue on all of the ramifications of this issue. This issue has since Roe v Wade been a focal point (similar to desegragation) of debate on the very essence of our freedoms, how they are safeguarded and assured and how they should manifest themselves now and in the future.
Since the original decision in 1973, advances in medical science have dramatically reduced the number of late term abortions performed almost all for therapeutic purposes. The original decision recognized that abortion for "quickened" fetuses could be legitimately restricted to safeguard the health of the mother and the definition of quickened (ability to survive outside the womb) has advance greatly (think survival rates of pre-mature babies--my grandaughter was 24 ounces at birth and is a active, healthy 17 month old toddler).
I hate the notion that any or some good could come from Dr. Tiller's murder. But, today people of all kinds of opinions are universally aghast and horrified. Let it be an opportunity to mourn, reflect, communicate and commiserate.
Thanks for this wonderful post, Saturn.
Gordon O, I wish I could say that I enjoy thinking that it's a vast ring wing conspiracy. There's no enjoyment for me, but a deep seated fear that a large segment of our country could be led to believe that killing their fellow citizens might be justified for the Right cause. You do know that the Civil War was fought for a just cause, don't you?
In the last 13 months, 12 of Mexico's 32 states have approved amendments to their state constitutions defining a fertilized human egg as a person with a right to legal protection, and seven other state parliaments are taking steps in the same direction.

This same effort is being made in the United States, which means our constitutional right to religious freedom is in jeopardy. A woman's right to equality, privacy and religious freedom will be eliminated unless they act now and lobby for implementation of the Freedom of Choice Act.

A religious faction is working diligently to place fertilized eggs above the rights of women, who are already legally and constitutionally recognized as a human being, while a fertilized egg is not. They expect to change or ignore the Constitution of the United States to implement their religious doctrine to control women.
GordonO, why don't you read the link I posted earlier? Afraid of having your illusions shattered? Do you prefer to hate?
GordonO is a poseur, a provocateur, with blade-thin intellectual powers. My advice is don't get distracted by him. All he does is distract, and never engages with anything like humanity or real knowledge.

He is a little boy with a sharp stick who thinks he owns a bazooka, eager to distract the grownups. He is a True Believer and hence a colossal waste of time.

This is about Tiller, and his family, and the need to stop rightwing domestic terrorism.
Thanks, Greg, for the reasoned commentary. I truly needed it.

I dunno - today I have no reasoning ability. I was Just sitting here, on my fingers, not allowing myself to write something like: GordonO's, you're an idiot!, or, GordonO is, to put it simply, Stupid, or the like, which, as you would I am sure agree, be the epitome of counterproductive. Whew, thank god you stopped me!

Thank you for your personal viewpoint and always thoughtful and balanced commentary.

Several commenters have raised the issue of why there are so few providers of late-term abortion. I don't want to derail this post, but I do remember reading some time ago that fewer and fewer medical schools are even offering abortion education. I'm not sure where I read this, but a similar article can be found here...


Also, a good read on why a woman might have a late-term abortion was on Twitter today from Anderson Cooper's blog
RT @andersoncooper A personal perspective on late-term abortion http://tinyurl.com/nt4u6g
Leave Gordon O alone, no please! Kevin found the real nugget here, but it wasn't just a local headline. On the chyron crawl at MSNBC: "controversial doctor...." and blah, blah, woof, woof.
Thank you, Saturn, for a post to help in our grief. I wept when hearing about Dr Tiller's death. I know he was a brave and caring person, and my heart goes out to his family and friends. This world is a colder place without him.
Excellent post for Dr. Tiller. I have always thought that anti-abortionists were NOT especially "pro-lifers." And this confirms it. They are people caught in the political malestrom of the right wingers who are willing to do anything to further their cause. I lived when women lived in fear of "getting pregnant," without safe recourse. As much as I love babies, those babies who are born to young mothers, or rape victoms, or someone generally unprepared to assume the selflessness required by parenthood, are not having a wonderful life. There are too many children who are unwanted today, and some even had been adopted by people anxious to have a baby to love. I have known of babies/children adopted who were "sent back" because the parents couldn't deal with their problems. I didn't even know you could do that!!!

Babies deserved to be loved and hugged and cherished from the very beginning. If we can't promise them that, they are better off leaving this world. I'm sorry.
"As a Kansan originally I gotta think: the killer must be from Texas. No corn-fed true blue son of a Jayhawk would do this."

What an illiterate (gotta, gratuitous colon) trivialization of murder. Murder is too serious a matter to be the butt of a stupid exercise in state pride. Talk about a Gratuitous Colon. Even the initials are appropriate.

These charges of "terrorism" and a wave of anti-abortion advocation of violence are totally unfounded. In all of these comments, not one claim has been made that any responsible spokesperson for the anti-abortion movement has expressed anything but outrage at Dr. Tiller's murder. How typical. Formulate a premise; look for the facts later.
thesagejournal wrote, “He may have done it out of compassion for women, but it may have been the money...abortion is a very lucrative business.”

There is surely data on what he did for a living and why. When you say “he may have” do you mean “you researched it in detail and were unable to discern” or “other people who perform this service do so for various reasons and you think them all interchangeable and couldn't be bothered finding out something personal about this man” or just “you couldn't be bothered to research this at all and just said the first thing that occurred to you”?

Many people getting late term abortions are getting them because they have noticed that there are complex medical problems that will not result in a successful life for either the would-be child or for the parents. To suggest that bearing the child is obviously the right thing may be your personal belief, but if you make that assessment on the basis of no knowledge of the personal situation, you're just indulging personal prejudice, nothing more, and shame on you for doing so. To compare your daughter's situation, which I assume involves a healthy pregnancy by a mother who is economically capable of bearing the burden with other people's situations you do not know is utterly inappropriate and leaves me shocked and saddened that you would conflate two such disparate situations as if they are all the same.

These are deeply personal matters that must be evaluated individually.

I recommend that you work to put a face on this man who has died before you criticize him. He is a specific person who had specific beliefs and interests.

Even if he were working for a lucrative income, what value would there be in that knowing people daily wanted to kill him? Would you take a job for a little extra money knowing there was a bulls-eye painted on your forehead? Is it even possible that you could acknowledge of a person who is not here to respond for himself that perhaps the evidence points to motives other than those you have so uncharitably attributed him?

I suggest you click here for a personal story someone posted to Daily Kos, entitled “The George Tiller I Knew.” Then come back and tell us why this person deserved to die.
It does seem that Dr. Tiller was courageous a man of strong principles who knew he was facing death by doing what he considered right. However, although I'm personally on the pro-choice side of this divisive, tragic, and seemingly never-ending national debate, I think it's important to recognize that the individual who killed Dr. Tiller is also a courageous and principled person who risked life in prison to save the lives of unborn children.
Any one who shoots any one in a church is a dangerous criminal; period.

A nice tribute to a man devoted to saving the lives of women.

How disturbing that it needed to be written.

Much more disturbing is the arrogance of the posters who believe that they, with no knowledge of any circumstances, feel they can make a 'better' decision for the women who needed Dr. Tiller's service.

Self appointed clairvoyant, medical and moral geniuses like sage and gordon attribute supernatural powers unto themselves that leave me in awe of the power of self delusion.
"Babies deserved to be loved and hugged and cherished from the very beginning. If we can't promise them that, they are better off leaving this world. I'm sorry."

You should be sorry. You're going to decide when another innocent human being is "better off" dead than alive. I haven't heard a sentiment that refreshing since Mein Kampf. Shame on you.
First: The right-wing people who come here and make truly ignorant and insulting comments can best be understood by reading The Authoritarians.

As Greg Correll said, engaging with such people is a distraction from the real subject, not only here, but everywhere they intrude. Ignore them. They will go away when they don't get a rise out of people.

Some comments on comments:

"One can only hope that some anti-abortion activists may be horrified enough by the act that has been carried out in the name of their movement to reconsider their position, or at least their activism."

And hope is all it will be. This is the culmination of their work. Even without murder, they are perpetrating violence against women when they picket at clinics with their pictures of aborted fetuses and interfe with the life of a person who is dealing with what is a stressful situation already. These people are true believers, and there is nothing true about their beliefs.

"I think it's important to recognize that the individual who killed Dr. Tiller is also a courageous and principled person who risked life in prison to save the lives of unborn children."

More "courageous" would have been to not have fled the scene. More courageous still would have been to not act like a god and take another person's life. (And, anti-abortion folks, don't give me the nonsense that a fetus is a human being too, more important than the woman that carries it.)

Most courageous would have been to read the Constitution, realize that this is not a theocracy, and come to terms with truly respecting life.

Not to mention this whole "unborn baby (or child)" trope is like "undead": fictional.
Ron, the killer was not courageous. The killer did not surrender to the police and had to be arrested elsewhere. See my essay, Disobedience, Civil and Not-so-civil for my opinion about people who commit crimes and expect to be lauded for it.
Gordon, I guess you don't follow people like Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh?
For anyone interested, I suggest checking out Andrew Sullivan's blog over at theatlantic.com. I usually think he's a bit of a blowhard, but today he published many emails from people explaining why they or their partners got late-term abortions. He even admitted that despite his personal opposition to late-term abortions, he did not realize the wide range of reasons why they are performed and some of these stories moved him to re-examine some deeply held beliefs. These women were not seeking abortions because they were hemming and hawing for eight months about whether to have the kid at all, though I know some on the right like to push that line.
So Polite, Sullivan was interviewed on MSNBC tonight, too, and was really quite articulate about that same set of issues you mention. I've seen him periodically on Real Time with Bill Maher and he's often provocative in ways he didn't seem to be trying to do tonight. I was quite impressed with his sincerity on this matter, and with his moderate position. Especially coming from him, but really coming from anyone whose position is quite obviously slightly biased toward wanting to say something different than what ended up coming out of his mouth, it was really a breath of fresh air. Big thumbs up for the sensible things he was saying.
I can't even think of this logically - I tried.
He was murdered at church. He was an usher, his wife was in the choir.
At my MOST idealistic, I hope this sways a lot of people into the undecided vote place regarding the right to choose, or maybe even sways them towards the nonviolent side.
But, but, but I consider this an act of terrorism. And I remain more frightened by the hate and evil in this country than I do by international threats.
While I don't condone the shooting of Dr Tiller, I won't weep for him either. He chose his profession. Choices have consequences, some good and some bad. I think that the reason he "kept going to work" is because he enjoyed his profession. Either that or he was hoping to become a martyr. He had cheated death many times before, it was only a matter of time until his luck ran out. I am conflicted though because his murderer will be tried and convicted and his life will be ruined; by his own hands. However, this one act will save countless babies and that is a good thing. If only there was a way that both sides could be satisfied without violence....
No dijon, it won't save countless babies - maybe would be babies - it WOULD save countless fetuses if that's the kind of game you wanna' keep playing!
Condemn countless fetuses to be born deformed or otherwise severely handicapped, perhaps in agony, perhaps losing their mother in childbirth (and thereby condemning other—probably healthy—children to grow up without a mother), many living harsh, brief lives that no one in the world is equipped to help them with ... is that what you mean by “save,” DJohn? If so, you can perhaps understand why there's disagreement as to the characterization.
Dugg and donated. Thank you, Saturn.
Hey UnSage, (calling you that because unless you mean spices, sage does not describe you in any way)

You and your buddies directly contributed to the assassination of this heroic doctor, You killed him UnSage, but of course, like Operation Rescue, you will ever so politely demur and offer condolences, while you continue to spew the Religio-Facist lies and hatred that caused this man's murder. You and your buddies are beneath contempt.

Just fuckking admit it aready. You're actually glad that he's dead and won't be sad if other brave doctors who perform abortions are killed by your friends, until no more are left. They are collateral damage in your insane, relentless war to protect fetal tissue at the expense of living, breathing women. These women also wind up as collateral damage.

The blood of Dr. Tiller, and all the other murdered doctors who performed abortions, is on your hands. However, your safety blanket of religious rationaliation and hypocrisy, will protect your conscience. So just go fucking pray to the Daddy in the Sky about how you hope Dr. Tiller had time to "get right with the Lord" before he was murdered. That's how you and your cohorts handle these assassinations.

My disgust for you knows no bounds.
DJohn typed this smarmy missive: "While I don't condone the shooting of Dr Tiller, I won't weep for him either. He chose his profession."

Not only DO you condone the shooting—based your coy choice of words—you are likely revelling in it. "He cheated death." Going to work doing something both legal and medically safe is "cheating death"? Only to amoral fanatics like you.

"Choices have consequences, some good and some bad."

Based on that statement, I suppose that's how you feel when police are killed on duty; probably you feel that way about women getting raped because, after all, they chose to walk around with a vagina. They should have stopped wanting to be martyrs and worn burqas.

Someone pointed out to you the actual medical situations that exist for late-term abortions, so I don't need to point that out to you.

What I will note is that people like you in the vast majority don't give a shit about ensuring prenatal care for prospective mothers, neonatal care for actual babies (not fetuses), have no respect for women, stop caring about for "babies" at birth, and can't wait for the next war or the next state execution.

Finally Djohn spews this out of his keyboard: "If only there was a way that both sides could be satisfied without violence."

Nothing says "pro-life" like murder.
dijon is mentally and morally crippled beyond repair, Bill.

Let him live in his faux christian life.

His intellect would challenge and morality would challenge only that of a mosquito high on crack.
Great post on a very sad story.
I was fifteen during the "Summer of Mercy." Newly political, and carless, so Wichita might as well have been across the country instead of just a short hop down the interstate. I went to a Pro-choice rally in support of Dr. Tiller in Lawrence with some older friends instead, and made a lifelong commitment to the pro-choice movement about three minutes after getting out of the car.

Dr. Tiller as been one of my heroes since that summer, and though I'm late to the commenting, I hope that's okay.