Breaking: Abortion provider George Tiller murdered

Dr. George Tiller, an outspoken advocate for abortion rights and one of the few late-term abortion providers in the country, was shot dead in church this morning.

Cara writes at Feministe,

This is the first time an abortion provider has been murdered in over a decade. I have friends who work in abortion clinics. This is terrorism. And right now, I just don’t have the words.

The loss of Dr. Tiller is deeply upsetting, and Cara rightly identifies this as a terrorist act. It is the culmination of an ongoing campaign of intimidation and harassment against someone who was providing completely legal health-care services. I’ve been paying attention to the more militant strains of the anti-choice movement, so this news shouldn’t have shocked me as much as it did. But, like Cara, I have friends who work and volunteer in abortion clinics. When violence against abortion providers was hitting a fever pitch 10 years ago, I was not strongly pro-choice identified. I remember reading about the murder of an abortion providers, but it certainly did not affect me the way this news has. Whether it’s rational or not, today I’m afraid for everyone who works in a reproductive health clinic. And not only those that provide abortion.

I am also worried about what Tiller’s murder means for women in Kansas and elsewhere in the country who need the services that he provided. The simple fact is there are almost no doctors who provide late-term abortions, especially in rural parts of the country. I was in Nebraska several years ago to interview Dr. Leroy Carhart (whose challenges to abortion-restricting laws went all the way to the Supreme Court), and Carhart and Tiller were the only two late-term providers in their region. If one wanted to go on vacation or got sick, the other had to fill in. There was no one else. Perhaps it would be a fitting memorial to Dr. Tiller to contribute to Medical Students for Choice, and encourage more doctors with a deep commitment to reproductive rights to become abortion providers.

UPDATE: More from the NY Times, Bastard.Logic, Pandagon, Matt Yglesias, SarahMC, Andrew Sullivan, and Pro-Science.

MEMORIAL VIGILS: See here.

Previous posts on Dr. Tiller:
A Hurrah for Dr. George Tiller
Judge in Tiller case has anti-choice history
The Attacks on Dr. Tiller Continue

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130 Comments

  1. Posted June 1, 2009 at 4:21 am | Permalink

    *******
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

    Peaceful & Pro-Choice Vigil for Dr. George Tiller
    8:00pm
    Tuesday, June 2nd
    Human Rights Monument @ Elgin & Lisgar
    Ottawa

    This vigil will be a chance to gather to honour Dr. Tiller, and to gather together offering support to one another. Many of us are deeply shaken by what happened, and this event will allow us be together in solidarity, showing support for his family, his staff, for the women and families he has served, and for the abortion community.
    Please join us in a peaceful gathering.
    Bring candles, flowers, whatever you like.
    This is an accessible event for people of all faiths and genders, open to anyone that would like to join us in solidarity.

  2. Monika
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Thankyou for deciding to go into this difficult and dangerous line of work and good luck with your studies.

  3. rojopelo521
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Oh, they’ll publicly denounce it, even though they’ve spent years doing everything up to and including inciting violence against doctors and clinics. Even Operation Rescue, Terry Randall’s baby, immediately came out against the murder, despite the fact that Randall has been involved with clinic bombings and cavorting with terrorists for years now. But hey, it’s all okay, because they publicly denounce the murder!

  4. SarahMC
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Good luck in your quest to become a doctor!
    What’s interesting is that most “pro-lifers” concede that abortion should be permitted when the life of the mother is at stake or when the pregnancy has gone terribly wrong. And yet the man they’ve demonized most (and now murdered) provided abortions to women in those very circumstances. When they say they oppose “late-term abortions” they don’t know what the everliving fuck they’re talking about. They are protesting the very abortions they claim they can make an exception for. Abortions families hope they never have to face. As per usual, “pro-lifers” just show their ignorance and lack of critical thought when they condemn a man like Tiller.

  5. fifilord
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    fairly simplistic response here- but how can so called pro life people be pro murder?
    RIP dr tiller.

  6. Ori
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Rest in peace, Dr. Tiller. Your work helped countless women, and you will be remembered as a hero for abortion rights.
    This incident is a tragic reminder that the anti-choice fringe is still very active, and now more than ever, we need to resist them and fight for our reproductive rights.

  7. bifemmefatale
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    10 actually. Not that that’s a sufficient number for the need either.
    http://www.abortion.com/abortion_clinics_late_term.php

  8. bifemmefatale
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Should my friend have carried to term a child whose life would have been measured in hours, not years, and who would have felt only pain? Let me remind you that not all babies are perfectly formed little angels. Google anencephaly, trisomy 18, trisomy 13. And then there’s conjoined twins, ectopic pregnancies, pre-eclampsia…
    Things can and do go horribly wrong in pregnancy, and there are conditions I wouldn’t force my pet to live with, let alone my child.

  9. Pallandra
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    RIP Dr. Tiller. This just makes me ache inside, for his family and friends, for all the women that need his help and won’t be able to receive it. The man was incredibly brave, putting his life on the line to save women. I just hope someone takes up his mantle, others do not let themselves be afraid, because abortion providers have had to put up with domestic terrorism for TOO LONG.
    I don’t know if you have any power over the google ads (I think?) right below the article, but when I clicked in here, I was met with one for purchasing pro-life promoting clothing. Which just made me wince.

  10. Newvid
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    This is very sad. The picture referenced
    above and what it represents is certainly
    tragic, but YOUR culture of death and disdain
    for the innocent unborn is what led to it,
    convincing women that putting themselves in
    harm’s way to get an abortion at any cost is
    more important than a loving sacrifice of
    bringing a baby’s development to full term and then, perhaps, giving it up for adoption, into the hands of new loving parents. I decry the murder of anyone, even of a murderer of innocents like this Dr. who was killed. This battle should be waged through the legal system, and by opening hearts and minds up to the reality of the tragedy that is abortion, not taking the law into our own hands. The killing of Tiller was MURDER and the killing of innocent babies, whether in the womb, partially in the womb or born is also MURDER of the worst kind.

  11. Newvid
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    True pro-life people like myself, CANNOT be pro-murder. It is one thing to believe that the legal system has the right to use capital punishment but quite another thing to endorse murder. It is clearly wicked to murder anyone, especially babies.

  12. Liza
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I hope that was satire because I actually laughed a little at how ridiculous it is.
    And come on, Miroslav Satan had nothing to do with this! He’s far too busy playing hockey.

  13. Liza
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Google ads are keyword driven, I believe. It’s very hard to control their actual content.
    That’s why, for example, fat acceptance blogs frequently avoid them – all they’ll show is diet ads in what is supposed to be a space safe from diet drivel.
    Maybe they can do something, but I doubt it.

  14. Liza
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Google ads are keyword driven, I believe. It’s very hard to control their actual content.
    That’s why, for example, fat acceptance blogs frequently avoid them – all they’ll show is diet ads in what is supposed to be a space safe from diet drivel.
    Maybe they can do something, but I doubt it.

  15. bifemmefatale
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2004/01/25/my_late_term_abortion/
    You need to read this woman’s story, and know that there are thousands of tragedies like hers. I know a story like hers very personally. As I said upthread, not all babies are born healthy. Would you want your baby to suffer pain, to gasp for air? Do you have any idea how many children with special needs live their entire lives in group homes because people will NOT adopt anything other than a perfect child? How many babies have you adopted from the foster care system?

  16. rsf
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Candlelight vigil for Dr George Tiller TONIGHT @ 7pm on the Polk St steps of SF City Hall. Bring candles IN containers. Dr Pratima Gupta (Board of Directors of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health) and other speakers to be announced. Tell EVERYONE you know. Thank you Bevan Dufty and City Hall for your last minute help, and Lisa Geduldig for organizing this vigil.

  17. rsf
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    San Francisco Candlelight vigil for Dr George Tiller TONIGHT @ 7pm on the Polk St steps of SF City Hall. Bring candles IN containers. Dr Pratima Gupta (Board of Directors of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health) and other speakers to be announced. Tell EVERYONE you know. Thank you Bevan Dufty and City Hall for your last minute help, and Lisa Geduldig for organizing this vigil.

  18. toomey
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    i am so upset about this.

  19. mercurygirl
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    alessa, thanks for your concern, the US Marshalls are now protecting many abortion providers. They have also shut down the Operation Rescue webpage ( Im assuming it was them) and Dr Tillers webpage is now unaccessable.
    Looking over the web, many amazing stories are coming out about Dr Tillers work
    Here is one: http://majikthise.typepad.com/majikthise_/2009/week23/ about a couple with co-joined twin pregnancy
    Here is another amazing one: from the dailykos, by a doctor who referred to Dr Tiller
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/6/1/737587/-A-Doctors-StoryWhy-I-and-my-patients-will-miss-Dr.-Tiller
    I was a premedical student in Nebraska and testified 25 years ago to the UN Regents that they had no right to limit the training of students in termination of pregnancies. They were being lobbied by the right to stop all abortion training. Few people spoke out, the anti-choice folks won.
    All over the country,medical education caved in to this lobbying. Now we have a handful of abortion providers, most over 50 years old. Fortunately we have a cadre of enthusiastic students coming through the ranks.
    I love the idea of donating to Medical Students for Choice (www.medicalstudentsforchoice.com )in honor of Dr. Tiller. This may be a good time to Call/email your local abortion clinic today and say thanks. or send them a donation for uncompensated care.

  20. Pallandra
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the info, I didn’t have any idea how ad space works so I was curious if there was any means to take certain ads out of site circulation. :)

  21. mercurygirl
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I just read bifemmefatele’s link, what a story,so informative and painful. thanks for that one.

  22. mercurygirl
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    justreadbifemmefatele’s link, what a story,so informative and painful. thanks for that one.

  23. ElleStar
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I’d bet you all of the money in my bank account that the man who murdered Dr. Tiller believes he’s every bit as “pro-life” as you.
    Dr. Tiller has saved lives and been a crusader for women’s health. You are sadly misinformed about late-term abortions. Only 1.4% of abortions are considered “late-term” and of those, the overwhelming majority are because of defects in the fetus incompatible with life or because the life of the mother is at risk. Most of the late term abortions provided by Dr. Tiller were very much wanted pregnancies, but couldn’t be carried to term because of the complications that can arise and fail to be diagnosed earlier.
    You might consider getting more informed about your subject before posting to public forums like this one. You just end up sounding ridiculous.

  24. Cait
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t we discuss how terrible it is to murder a child’s soul and future by forcing him or her to be born into poor economic conditions, and/or into violent, crime-addled neighborhoods, and/or to drug addicted/abusive/neglectful parents who never wanted them to begin with? What kind of “life” do you think they’ll have after the “miracle” of their birth? My mother is a public school teacher in one of the worst economic areas in this country. A young boy who once told her, through tears, that he WISHED his crack addicted mother had aborted him. What is the miracle in that kind of deep, psychological self hatred?
    Why don’t we discuss how pro-life activists push, guilt, and lie to women in order to persuade them to carry their fetuses to term, only to abandon and shun them as whores and leeches once they seek welfare to support their precious miracle after it’s birth?
    Why don’t we discuss the fact that anti-choice politicians have the worst voting records where child services and public education reform are concerned? How many hours of service have you dedicated this month to the thousands upon thousands of needy “miracle” fetuses now that they’ve been born? Where does your so-called Christian compassion end?
    Dip a toe into the real world, please. Not everyone has the life of priviledge that you do. If the experience doesn’t open your eyes, nothing will.

  25. stanmark
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Considering abortion is one of the most divisive moral and political subjects in the U.S., Newsy does a good job here of providing insightful news perspectives from different sides on this recent controversial and tragic event.
    I wish those on both sides of this issue could reach some common ground, but like some things in life, it doesn’t look like this will happen for quite some time in this country.

  26. stanmark
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Considering abortion is one of the most divisive moral and political subjects in the U.S., Newsy does a good job here of providing insightful news perspectives from different sides on this recent controversial and tragic event.
    I wish those on both sides of this issue could reach some common ground, but like some things in life, it doesn’t look like this will happen for quite some time in this country.

  27. era4allNOW
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    I first learned of what happened via a phone call from my mother. She knew how upset I would be, so she wanted to be the one to inform me. I remember sending him a supportive letter and receiving a hand written thank you card in return. I still have it. My mom and I talked briefly about it, the hypocrisy of course, but also about how these psychos are not following the Bible or Christianity – they are USING it, to support their twisted desires. Sounds familiar, where have I heard that before…oh yeah, how the Taliban doesn’t follow Islam, they USE it to justify their violent methods! Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism.
    Through my local NOW chapter I have already started the ball rolling on activating in his honor. I am pushing for donations to Medical Students For Choice, and I want to see more protections for abortion providers, their staff, and their patients.
    My heart is aching so badly for him, his loved ones, and all the women who will be hurting without him. My one hope is that this will stir a fire-storm of work in activists all over the country toward preventing this from ever happening again, and to strengthen our fight for women’s lives.
    May he Rest In Peace.

  28. nella
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    This is so absolutely horrible, I hope his killer goes to prison for the rest of their life.
    Rest in peace Dr George Tiller. I hope other brave and dedicated people will follow your example.

  29. SaraLaffs
    Posted June 1, 2009 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    On the contrary, pro-choice women don’t “disdain” life, as you put it. We revere it. We respect life to the point that we profoundly affirm that women are perfectly capable of deciding what to do with their bodies without anyone else’s input. Dr. George Tiller did the same – he cared for women, delivered healthy children and offered empathetic, respectful care for families who found themselves in incomprehensible situations.
    Despite what you might have been brainwashed to believe, no woman gets an abortion because she just feels like it. Women who seek out late-term abortions are especially sympathetic, their cases typically involving horrific, life-threatening medical problems. One woman in such a case might choose to sacrifice her health – or life – for her baby, and another might not. Either way, it’s the business of the patient and her family. Not yours.
    For you or anyone else to claim that women are morally or intellectually incapable of making decisions regarding their pregnancies is sexist to the extreme. Dr. Tiller respected the capacity of humans to bear life more than you ever will.

  30. blonde&bright
    Posted June 2, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I can’t believe this.
    It’s unbelievable.
    Even though I quickly check Feministing a couple of times a day, I didn’t notice this. Why, I saw a headline on a abortion doctor killed, I assumed without reading it that the article was about the accused getting out of jail or something. I guess my mind skipped the idea that an abortion doctor would be killed now. I thought it was in our past. I guess I was wrong.
    I just needed to share my reaction, and my thoughts on assuming that this wouldn’t happen in 2009. But maybe I live in a bubble and don’t know the amount of evil and oppression that is still raging in our society.

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