Monday, June 1, 2009

"Trust Women"

What I learned at tonight's candlelight vigil at Cal Anderson Park for slain abortion physician George Tiller:

Dr. Tiller was a really nice guy. A gentle, caring man who would put in hours of personal time with patients. He wasn't there to do a procedure and then send the women on their way - he'd sit with them, talk with them, and hold them while they cried while they made one of the most difficult decisions of their lives.

He helped women who had found out late in their pregnancies that their baby had a fatal disease or disorder or that late in their term, their own life was at risk. He helped little girls who had been raped and had hidden their pregnancies until they were too far along to have abortions in most states. All these women travelled far and braved hostile crowds to make a very hard decision; Dr. Tiller was there to help them and provide a haven.

He didn't start out doing abortions. When he took over his father's practice (after his parent's died in a plane crash), women would come to him and ask if he could do the procedure "like his father did". He said yes, and then ended up taking this on as a full-time practice. He did this for thirty-some years while being endlessly threatened and harassed by pro-lifers who thought of him as an evil babykiller.

He wanted to retire when he was sixty. When he was asked why he didn't retire, he said he couldn't leave the women. Now that he's gone, there's hardly anywhere for them to go - maybe two other doctors in the U.S. do late-term abortions, because of the technical and emotional difficulty of the procedure, because of restrictive state laws, and because of violent crowds that are all too willing to harass and even kill late-term abortion physicians. Who will help these women now?


For much better articles about George Tiller than this one, see In Memory of Dr. George Tiller, Kansas Stories and Where Will Women Go Now?. Thanks to Erica Barnett for posting about the candlelight vigil - I'm sure she did a great deal to contribute to the 100+ crowd that made it to the event on very short notice.

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