Revisiting Dr. George Tiller’s Legacy in the Trump Era
To those working in the world of abortion, May 31 is an unforgettable date. Nine years ago on this day, Dr. George Tiller was assassinated at his church as he was waiting to enter Sunday morning services.
Dr. Tiller was murdered for one reason—because he provided abortions. A compassionate doctor who took over his father’s family medicine practice in Wichita, Kansas, Dr. Tiller eventually converted it to a clinic that provided only abortion care. He was one of the only doctors in the country offering later abortion care, and what made him unique was that he was outspoken about it.
As a result, he was targeted by anti-abortion individuals and groups, including the recently released Shelley Shannon, who shot Dr. Tiller in both arms in 1993. Scott Roeder, who spent years on the fringe of anti-abortion extremism, was another one of them. Frustrated that Dr. Tiller had once again been exonerated on bogus charges brought by the now-disbarred Kansas attorney general Phill Kline, Roeder staked out Dr. Tiller’s church and shot him point blank that Sunday morning. For those who haven’t done so already, Rachel Maddow’s documentary about the assassination is essential viewing…
It is always worth remembering this as legislators mount increasingly frequent political attacks on abortion and general reproductive health services. The Trump administration’s latest announcement about its plans to reinstate a form of the Title X gag rule suggests the Republican Party does not intend to let up in its attempts to end legal abortion or—put more cynically but probably more accurately—to pander to voters who want to end legal abortion.
As could be predicted by almost anyone following the issue, an increase in targeting of abortion providers and clinics has followed these political attacks on abortion. Anti-choice activists are clearly emboldened by a sympathetic administration. While thankfully there have been no murders of abortion providers during Trump’s administration, the latest statistics released by the National Abortion Federation (NAF) show that anti-abortion extremism is on the rise.
The hypocrisy is staggering ; “they’ll do ANYTHING to protect a fetus, but if it grows up to be a doctor, they might just have to kill it” ~ George Carlin