Writings About George Tiller and Where We Go From Here

By Christine Cupaiuolo |

There’s so much important policy analysis and moving stories about Dr. George Tiller that we wanted to try to bring you a snapshot of it all here. We’ll continue to add to this post — please also leave suggestions for additional reading, or your own thoughts, in the comments.

In our , we included Tiller’s own story about becoming an abortion provider. He learned his father had provided medically safe abortions for women who had no place else to turn prior to Roe v. Wade only after taking over his father’s practice. Tiller decided to continue to provide the service for women, despite great risk to him and his family.

Since then, Judy Norsigian, Myhags executive director, expanded on her about how to show support for abortion providers with three things everyone can do. And we continue to of and the .

Analysis & Public Policy

: On The New York Times op-ed page, Kate Manning writes: “Dr. Tiller is just the latest in a line of brave people who have died for providing abortions. Perhaps the most infamous of these was a midwife named Ann Lohman, who killed herself in New York in 1878 after decades of harassment.”

: Carole Joffe, author of “Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us” (Beacon Press, forthcoming January 2010), writes that another response to Tiller’s murder “must be to demand that the mainstream medical community acknowledge the reality that there will always be some women who need abortions later on in pregnancy. Local medical institutions must make provision for these cases — especially since these women can no longer be sent off to Kansas, out of sight and mind of ‘respectable’ doctors and hospitals.”

: Journalism professor Cynthia Gorney, author of “Articles of Faith: A History of the Abortion Wars” discusses the state of the abortion debate on NPR.

: Excellent overview by Richard Fausset in the L.A. Times of the degree of violence against abortion clinics and providers.

: “I am tired of a public debate that treats seriously the claim that pregnant women, mothers, and the people who support them are killers,” writes Lynn Paltrow, executive director of  National Advocates for Pregnant Women. “I am tired of a debate that trivializes genocide by saying that what women do to deal with their reproductive lives is worse.”

: Ann Friedman at The American Prospect calls Tiller’s death “a wake-up call to the fact that our existing laws and regulatory bodies to protect against clinic violence aren’t working as well as they should. As written, FACE provides a lot of protection for reproductive health providers. But we need an active task force — or some other means of accountability — to make sure the law is fully enforced.”

: Former Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Gloria Feldt has written a powerful piece remembering past acts of clinic violence and explaining why “candlelight vigils alone will never be enough.”

: Cristina Page at RH Reality Check writes: “For those who would like to think today’s murder in church of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider, is an isolated incident: here’s the horrifying news: You are wrong. The pattern is clear and frightening.”

: Jill Filipovic of Feministe writes: “… this latest act of terrorism is, sadly, not an anomaly. It is part of a clearly-established pattern of harassment, intimidation and violence against abortion providers and pro-choice individuals.”

: Melissa McEwan at Shakesville’s open letter to President Obama, including this direct response to : “Mr. President, if you had been paying the slightest bit of attention to the realities of the front line of the fight to protect women’s bodily autonomy, you would not be shocked. This wasn’t even the first attempt on Dr. Tiller’s life; it was the merely the first successful one.”

: GRITtv with Laura Flanders hosts a discussion about the media coverage. Guests include Lynn Paltrow of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, Jennifer Pozner of Women In Media & News (WIMN),  and Sunsara Taylor, a writer for Revolution Newspaper and an abortion provider.

What Happens Next

: “Who can blame George Tiller’s family for declining to re-open his clinic?” asks Barb Shelly, Kansas City Star editorial page columnist. “But the clinic’s closing means the killer has achieved his objective. That’s a thought akin to an open wound. The decision also means, for Kansas women in crisis, a yawning gap between abortion clinics in the Kansas City area and Denver.”

: “Over almost 20 years, a vocal, diverse constellation of anti-abortion forces has grown up in this conservative city with an intensity rarely seen elsewhere, converging around Dr. Tiller’s practice. With his death, its future suddenly seems uncertain, too,” writes Monica Davey at The New York Times.

: “Dr. Leroy Carhart, a physician who provides abortions for women in need and who for many years provided later term abortions in his home state of Nebraska, will temporarily take over Dr. Tiller’s medical practice in Kansas,” reports Amie Newman at RH Reality Check. “Dr. Carhart, still a practicing provider, is most well known for his involvement in two Supreme Court cases, Stenberg v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Carhart, which challenged and then upheld the ban on the politically termed “Partial Birth Abortion.”

: “There are two other clinics that do late-term abortions, but neither are known for taking patients regardless of their ability to pay or for ministering so comprehensively to their emotional needs. Tiller’s murder leaves a void that could imperil women across the country,” writes Michelle Goldberg at The American Prospect.

: “U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dispatched the U.S. Marshals Service to protect “appropriate people and facilities around the nation” in the wake of the killing Sunday morning of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas,” reports Ernest Luning.

Recollections From Tiller’s Patients

: A diary entry at Daily Kos.

and : Both posted at DoubleX.

: Over at Salon’s Broadsheet, Kate Harding quotes from a number of personal narratives posted online.

Statements from Reproductive Rights Groups

; Planned Parenthood is also excerpting from groups and public officials.

6 Comments

  1. Laura says:

    Thanks for the amazing compilation of articles. Wow — I’ve spent the better part of the last two days working through them …. Needless to say, I’m saddened and “reeling” as Judy Norsigan says in her post — but reading all of these reactions and thoughtful perspectives and calls to action from around the country and here on the blog, I’m heartened as well that we can make good change come out of this tragedy.

  2. Steph says:

    Over the last 24 hours, my partner and I created a website, . The goal of this project is to serve as a memorial to the lifework of Dr. George Tiller and as a living testimony to the courageous lives of abortion providers.

    On the website, you will find stories of individuals who have dedicated their lives to making abortion safe, legal, healthy, and accessible to women and girls. These people may be nurses, counselors, escorts, volunteers at abortion funds, or abortion doctors themselves. You will not see the faces of these providers to protect their safety. What you will see is the story they decide to share – how they came to abortion work, what their function is at their abortion clinic, or their personal abortion story. We want to humanize these individuals to convey the kindness, courtesy, justice, love, and respect they have for women and the health care choices women make. We share our stories in hopes of ending clinic violence, to alleviate the shame associated with the abortion experience, and as an homage to Dr. Tiller’s outstanding and courageous life work.

    IF YOU ARE AN ABORTION PROVIDER OR CLINIC VOLUNTEER, PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR STORIES!

    Please submit a photo with a piece of paper that says, “I Am Dr. Tiller” obscuring your face. You may submit whatever story you want in whatever format you want, as long as it’s connected to the abortion work you do.

    There are two ways to submit: via the website (there are instructions here ) or to email the photo and your story at [email protected]. Of course all of your personal information will not be shared or disclosed anywhere or to anyone.

    Please pass this along and SUBMIT YOUR STORIES AND PHOTOS in solidarity with Dr. George Tiller and all abortion providers.

  3. bianca says:

    I think it’s extremely important, as a woman of Color, to include the commentary and writings by pro-choice communities of Color who also mourn his loss. Below are just a few, but our writings are not scarce!

    Latino Sexuality

    National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Decries the Murder of Dr. Tiller

    VivirLatino

    Angry Black Bitch

    Culture Kitchen

    Jack & Jill Politics

    Countering Anti-Choice Terrorism by Melissa Harris-Lacewell

    My Ecdysis

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