I feel like someone punched me.
I was driving around in the city early this afternoon, and I saw some news flashing on the billboards about Dr. Tiller having been acquitted of several charges. I smiled to myself and made a mental note to make a donation to his clinic sometime this week.
It didn’t click that today was Sunday and that no acquittals would’ve taken place today, and that that was old news that had taken place in March of this year. Only now, after coming home and reading the news, am I realizing that what I’d read earlier today was the tail end of breaking news that Dr. George Tiller, 67, of Kansas had been murdered this morning while handing out church bulletins before Sunday mass.
Tiller was one of few remaining late-term abortion providers in the country. He’d encountered years of harassment from the anti-choice movement, and was shot in both arms in 1993. He’d been providing abortion services for over 30 years; his clinic was also unique in that it offered funeral services and grief counseling.
I’m really just shocked and outraged. Dr. Tiller was one of–if not the–most high-profile abortion providers in the nation (mostly due to the shit the anti-choice movement constantly dragged him through, both legally and otherwise), and yet he never faltered in his commitment to women’s choices and women’s health. With him gone, women in Kansas and surrounding areas will now face even greater challenges in obtaining abortion services.
As someone underemployed with no benefits and no way of paying for doctors visits (or worse: emergency room visits), I have been so, SO grateful to Planned Parenthood over the past couple of years. I’ve been able to go to them on several occasions in sheer desperation for things as simple as medication for UTIs, knowing that they charge on a sliding scale, and knowing that I would be okay in a few days, rather than crying in bed as the UTI turned into a full-blown kidney infection from hell (been there…not fun). I don’t know what I would’ve done without them.
Now I’m imagining that kind of desperation x 100. What would I do as a poor person in a rural area in Kansas if I needed an abortion? Women were already facing these types of hardships; now one of their few doctors has been murdered and their options just got even more limited.
Which brings me back to my original thought about making a donation to Dr. Tiller. I will indeed still be making my donations…to Medical Students for Choice, which is working to help train the next generation of abortion providers, and to the National Network of Abortion Funds, which helps underprivileged women pay for abortion care, as well as for travel and lodging required to get to/from the medical facilities.
Attend a memorial vigil for Dr. Tiller.
- Wichita, KS: Meet on Sunday at 8pm in Old Town Square.
- Lawrence, KS: Meet on Sunday night at 8pm, South Park Gazeb
- Washington, D.C.: Meet at the fountain at Dupont Circle at 9pm Sunday. Also at 6:30pm on Monday at the White House.
- Boston, MA: Meet at 6pm on Monday, June 1 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral.
- Seattle: Candlelight vigil in Seattle on Monday, 6pm. Details TBA. (Follow @ProChoiceWA on Twitter for details.)
- Portland, OR: Meet at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Monday at 8:00pm
If your city/town isn’t listed, plan a vigil yourself!
Donate to a pro-choice organization.
- Medical Students for Choice — to train the next generation of abortion providers
- National Network of Abortion Funds — to help low-income women access abortion
Discuss how this is connected to the daily intimidation of abortion providers all over the country.
- Write letters to your local media when you see this framed as an isolated incident, or as the act of just one extremist. Explain how this is connected to the broader issue of threats and intimidation against women’s health care providers.
- Encourage your friends and family members who aren’t pro-choice to reject groups that endorse or support extremist behavior.
Thank an abortion provider!
People who work and volunteer in reproductive health clinics (both those that provide abortions and those that don’t) risk their lives every day to ensure women’s health and freedoms are protected. They also deal with a lot of harassment and crap that might not be physically dangerous, but is a huge mental burden and daily stress. Let’s use this as an opportunity to recognize their commitment, and say THANK YOU!