“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” — Matthew 7:15-23
Today I am remembering Dr. George Tiller, a true man of God. He believed in life—and he was killed for it, on May 31, 2009, inside the Christian church in Wichita, Kansas he regularly attended, by anti-abortion extremists.
I met him at a Feminist Majority convention in Washington, D.C. Tiller was an abortion provider—one of only three at the time willing to provide late termination of pregnancy for patients who needed it. When he came in to meet with us, he brought three slides showing fetuses from late term abortions he had performed: one in utero with no brain; one with no lungs; one with no heart. None of them could have survived outside the womb, and giving birth to them put the lives of women at risk.
In the calmest, most human way, Dr. Tiller presented these tragic images as he explained why he risked his own life to save the mother and prevent the fetus from dying immediately after leaving the womb. No human could watch Dr. Tiller and not see the depth of his concern for the unviable fetuses and the mothers who carried them. But still, he faced attacks and threats to do his work.
Anti-abortion extremists bombed Tiller’s clinic in 1985 and shot him five times in the arms in 1993. I was in the FM offices when we learned they had killed him in 2009.
Anti-abortion violence has persisted since the 1970’s, when Roe v. Wade finally declared a woman’s right to choose. Before Tiller’s death, he was included in a documentary I wrote, KILLING IN THE NAME OF LIFE, after having survived that shooting in ’93—appearing alongside a slew of other abortion providers and clinic staff who had been attacked, kidnapped, and died as a result of anti-abortion extremists.
The screaming politicians who will outlaw abortion and set bounty hunters to chase down anybody who thinks about or helps somebody else think about terminating a pregnancy are not pro-life. They want control—to protect patriarchy at all costs, including and especially the lives of women.
70% of Americans favor the right to abortion, but a deadly minority are using the Supreme Court to do what no amount of slaughtering pro-choice doctors could accomplish and take away our reproductive freedom.
Today, in Dr. Tiller’s honor, I encourage us all to take action for abortion rights and access. It will take every bit of strength we have to undo the work of the deadly minority attempting to outlaw it.