Several days have passed since Dr. George Tiller was brutally shot in cold blood in church while he was on his way to services. Oddly enough, the murder of Dr. Tiller appears to have had an effect somewhat opposite to that which might have been desired by the shooter; it’s drawing attention to the extremes of the anti-choice movement, and it’s stirred up a lot of anger. Not at abortion providers, but at people who whip up violent sentiment. Even people in the anti-choice movement have criticized extremists, pointing the finger at their inflammatory rhetoric, as well they should. The abortion debate has been in the mainstream media for a long time, but there was a long lag between the last round of shootings and threats of physical violence, and I think a lot of people on the fence got lulled into a sense of false security. Not so any more.
Yet, anti-choicers persist in their absurd rhetoric. As predicted, several have outright praised Dr. Tiller’s assassin, including prominent people in the media who really should know better. As far as I’m concerned, praising someone for murdering someone else in cold blood is, quite simply, hate speech. Likewise, suggesting that murdering Dr. Tiller was somehow morally acceptable because you personally disagree with his choice to offer safe, legal, compassionate pregnancy termination services to women is hate speech.
I’m tired of hearing anti-choicers refer to highly trained board specialists in obstetrics and gynecology as “abortionists” or “abortion doctors.”
I’m tired of hearing people say that there should be a “sane limit” on abortions, a cutoff, that people can have “too many” abortions which “cross the line.”
I’m tired of hearing people say that women get abortions for convenience. I’m especially tired of people who claim that women get late term abortions for frivolous reasons, just because they feel like it.
I’m tired of the shortage in qualified care providers who can offer abortion services, caused by the widespread fear of offering such services as a result of self-righteous assholes like the man who shot Dr. Tiller.
I’m tired of the fact that when you go to Planned Parenthood for any family planning or gynecological wellness services, not just abortion, you have to go through a gamut of security measures put in place because of safety concerns.
I’m tired of the fact that women who need complex abortion services are forced to travel, sometimes across immense distances, because they can’t access services like third trimester abortion for severe fetal anomalies in their hometowns.
I’m tired of the fact that safe, legal abortion isn’t available in many corners of this country, and that young women and the poor are especially victimized by restricted access to abortion services.
I’m tired of anti-choicers who hide behind the claim that they hate abortion, when really they hate women with empowered sexuality, and it’s not just abortion they want to end, but family planning services of all kinds. Sexual education. Access to birth control. The right to choose the timing and spacing of children.
I’m tired of the fact that many of the most strident people in the anti-choice movement are white men. That women of color often struggle to access family planning services and safe abortions because of socioeconomic and sometimes cultural issues.
Doctor George Tiller was a husband, father, and grandfather who treated women with compassion, respect, and love in very difficult times. Countless women and families have stepped forward to praise Dr. Tiller in the days since his death, like a woman who wrote about the day that Dr. Tiller donned a bulletproof vest to escort her safely out of his clinic, the woman who wrote about the brief service the clinic held for her child, the women who spoke, over and over again, about the loving, gentle doctor who eased their fears and treated them with grace.
You want “common ground,” moderates? I’ll give you common ground. Common ground is when abortion providers and clinic staffers don’t need to walk in fear wherever they go. Common ground is when the abortion rate is reduced through widespread comprehensive sexual education, access to family planning services, and OTC birth control. Common ground is when women with wanted babies which develop severe anomalies aren’t shamed when they are forced to seek termination for the dead children in their bodies. Common ground is when a man can go to church, church, for Pete’s sake, without needing to fear that he will be gunned down by a close-minded, self-righteous asshole with no respect for life. Common ground is when everyone can mind their own business about everyone else’s medical care and personal choices.
Dr. Tiller’s death makes me want to go to medical school so that I can become a gynecologist and offer abortion services to women who need them. Dr. Tiller’s death also makes me terrified to think of doing that.