What This Is
This website was created as both a memorial to the lifework of Dr. George Tiller and as a living testimony to the courageous lives of abortion providers.

Here 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.

Please respect this space as one of compassion, dignity and love. We do not cover our faces out of shame. We do so to recognize an unfortunate aspect of the lives of abortion providers -- we must always be wary of our safety. No one knew this better than Dr. Tiller.

Dr. Tiller Works in the World
Mar 19th, 2010

via abortioneers.

I entered abortionland gradually. My parents never talked about it, I went to a Catholic school for years, so I don’t know how it started. But I used to be obsessed with learning about how people experienced their sexual bodies — I’d ask friends about their attractions, erections, menstruations, you name it.

Anyway, in college I became really interested in sex ed and family planning. I spent several months volunteering in community outreach and health education projects for a local women’s health center; then after college I found a job in their clinic. While I started out passionate about sexual health in general, eventually abortion stood out to me as something that I ought to focus on, precisely because many people drew the line there and I didn’t. It didn’t hurt that I had fantastic coworkers, a supportive work environment, exposure to fascinating clinical cases and many warm, appreciative clients.

Then I moved around some, first for a change of pace and then for school, and each time found something even more abortiony to occupy myself with. Now that I’m in school, I’m learning about various abortion-related research projects (clinical, social, and organizational aspects) which are so cool and important. But direct service, for all its challenges, pretty much rules: every day I can help several-to-many people get something they are seeking in order to make their life better.

It’s not a super exciting story, I guess! But I can remember being in (Catholic) middle school and going with the anti-choice flow, and it seems so weird to me now. I literally can’t see myself ever going back to that. Phew.

I am Dr. Tiller.

Dr. Tiller Works in Canada.
Mar 18th, 2010

In hindsight, I realized that my parents never really raised me to believe in anything in particular. Church was sporadic, and mostly to appease grandparents. Grace at supper was simply going through the motions. As long as I can remember, I always thought the “story” of Joseph and Mary was just that: a story; a fairytale. They also never said negative things about minorities or comments about abortion. I was raised about as blank a slate as I think is possible. I got to make ALL the decisions myself when I became old enough.

I don’t remember when I exactly became aware that I was pro-choice, but I probably always was because I NEVER liked being told what I could/couldn’t do. Thus being an anti would have never made sense to me. My first real memory on the topic was when I was about 16. I worked with a girl who was decidedly anti-choice (she was a year younger than I). I remember having discussions with her about the topic at work . One day she showed me the pictures that anti’s pull out. After seeing them I made the comment that I would likely never have an abortion, but I refused to take that choice from other women, no matter what. I think she took the small victory. Thankfully, I have never been forced to make the decision, but I know now that I wouldn’t hesitate to have an abortion if I were to become pregnant. But that moment stays with me. I think I can say with absolute certainty that I knew I was pro-choice from that day forward. Even though I thought, at the time, abortion wasn’t for me, I still refused to take the choice away from others. I am proud of my 16 y/o self for being able to separate the choice that I was entitled to make re. my body, and the choice that other women are entitled to make re. their body.

Since starting law school in a province with archaic, by Canadian standards, abortion laws, I have jumped into the pro-choice movement with both feet. I volunteer at my local clinic to escort patients past protesters (only clinic in Canada that has the buggers), and I worked on a project for ARCC to create a brochure for distribution in order to raise awareness about the laws so that we can create change.

I have started to get more involved in the movement, much to the chagrin of my closest friend. I am not entirely sure if she is decidedly anti-choice, but she has made it clear that she wouldn’t come with me for an abortion. Nonetheless, I will continue my volunteer work while I am local, and when I’m not, I will get involved in other ways. Also, I display my volunteer work on my resume, and if a law firm won’t have me for that reason, well so be it. I know I am doing a good thing.

I am Dr. Tiller.

Dr. Tiller Works in Philadelphia, PA.
Sep 16th, 2009

It’s hard for me to pinpoint a particular moment or series of events that led me to pursue this unconventional line of work – being an abortion provider. Frankly, I still don’t think my family and some of my friends fully understand (or even if all of them know) why or what I do for a living. And, I might even still be figuring some of it out myself.

In my choice to become a social worker, I knew I would be underpaid, overworked, and that my efforts would not always be recognized or appreciated in the moment — and that all those things are unfair. Yet, still I chose this profession because I have compassion, empathy, and believe that I should be doing my part to make this world a better place.

The transition to working in abortion care came relatively easy in that respect. It’s no secret that abortion care is a marginalized part of women’s healthcare (even though one in 3 women have an abortion). That to make abortion affordable for women, no abortion provider is going to become a millionaire. And, that women who are pregnant when they don’t want to be can get angry and frustrated at the lengths they must take to control their destiny (and sometimes that anger is directed at me). All those things, too, are unfair. Yet, I know that the decision to end a pregnancy is not taken lightly–it’s complicated. I know that most people can’t imagine supporting abortion rights until they learn that their daughter or sister or friend or coworker had an abortion (have you asked?) or they themselves are faced with an unwanted pregnancy. I know that my empathy and compassion is a skill that allows me to see women through transformative experiences when they often don’t think they deserve to have someone (let alone a stranger) supporting them through it.

What my social work training didn’t necessarily prepare me for is that my workplace (my coworkers, patients, and me) could be a target for domestic terrorism. That I would get training in what to do if the clinic gets anthrax in the mail or one of us finds a bomb. It may be silly that I worry about where I lock my bike after riding to work because I don’t want the protesters to damage my ride home. Or, that I don’t want my mother to read too much about clinic violence because she’ll worry more than she does already. Sadly, though, this is the reality of working in an abortion clinic.

Working in women’s healthcare, as an abortion provider, gives me a voice. I’m tired of old, white men making decisions for me about my own body. I’m angry that some states still criminalize women if they deliver a still birth. I’m frustrated that too many people in this country inserted the word “shame” into the defnition of an abortion experience.

Trust that I was born with a uterus and I’ll know what to do if a pregnancy starts to grow inside it. Trust that I’m a grown-ass woman able to make the big decisions. Trust that life’s complicated and there’s lots of gray areas that an outside onlooker (or protester or Bill O’Reilly) may not fully see or even attempt to see.

I trust the women I see every day in our clinic. I believe them when they say they can’t support another child, that adoption is a more difficult option than terminating the pregnancy, that their stepfather or uncle raped them, or that they’ve learned that the fetus they thought was growing inside them isn’t anymore. I trust that they are making informed decisions about their body and their life so that I can have that same trust for myself.

I am Dr. Tiller.

Dr. Tiller Performs in New York City and Across the Country.
Aug 1st, 2009


We are associated with ‘Words of Choice’ and have worked to support abortion providers across the country by using stories, theater, radio, articles, tv and DVD to open new conversations about reproductive freedom and justice. We traveled twice to Wichita to present performances for and with Dr. Tiller, and he understood the power of communication. We admired him deeply as saw him as not only a person passionately committed to doing what is right for women’s lives, but a kind and generous man. (We dedicated a program to him on radio on June 29, where we took this picture with the host.) In travels to 20 states, we have encountered thousands who agree with Dr. Tiller and stand up for women’s rights — providers, clinic workers, volunteers, doctors, policy advocates, writers, activists, nurses, para-professionals, assistants, campus organizers, religious personnel, students, videographers and everyday people: our deepest thanks and appreciation to all.

We Are Dr. Tiller.

Dr. Tiller Works in Pittsburgh, PA.
Jul 28th, 2009

ARHC practitioners 003.jpg

My name is Eli. I have worked in the abortion field for about 7 years. I currently handle the security at ARHC. People ask me daily how I can deal with these PROTESTERS, how I don’t lose my cool. Well, I really want to make experiences for women and those who enter a good one. I meet our patients at the corner and sing songs or talk loudly to drown out the ANTI voice. I am proud to be here and I pledge to dedicate my life to Reproductive Health.

I am Dr. Tiller.

Dr. Tiller Works in Cherry Hill, NJ.
Jul 26th, 2009

No photo.

When I first started working here at the clinic, I remember wondering what I would tell people when asked the question, “what do you do?” I had never had any concerns about disclosing where I worked before. Even when I was doing public policy work around reproductive health issues, it never crossed my mind not to discuss the kind of work that I did.

For the first few months that I worked at the clinic though, I had a hard time just coming out and saying, “I’m an abortion provider” or “I’m a counselor at an abortion clinic.” Not because I was ashamed of what I do, on the contrary, I’m quite proud to work in this field, but because I was afraid of the response that I might get from the person that I was talking to. I’m not one to seek out confrontation and I was truly afraid that by telling someone what I do, that I could cause, if not a fist fight, at least a really uncomfortable political conversation.

At the time I justified this avoidance by saying to myself, “I talk about abortion all the time at work, why would I want to talk about it on my time off.” But if I really thought about it I could admit to myself that I was just scared. After a few months of telling people, “I’m in women’s health care,” I started thinking about my patients and about how most women are so hesitant to tell people in their lives that they have had an abortion. And I started thinking about how if all the women and men in this country who have been touched by an abortion experience in some way or another could find the courage to talk about their experiences, then maybe some of the shame and stigma and fear surrounding abortion would start to go away. When you consider that approximately 1/3 of the women in this country will have an abortion at some time in their lives, that 60% of the women in this country are already mothers when they have an abortion, that abortion is one of the safest and most common surgical procedures performed in the U.S., it seems ridiculous that anyone would be ashamed or nervous about talking about it.

But here we are, in a society that seems unwilling or unable to talk about this common experience except in terms of the political “abortion wars” that we’re all used to seeing around election time on the news. Unfortunately, this type of black and white arguing about abortion–perhaps one of the most complex issues we face in our lives–is a huge contributing factor to the hostile environment that women and providers face. We live in a world where if you can’t distill your rationale into a thirty second sound bite, your argument can’t be heard. And these big issues of pregnancy and abortion, which have everything to do with life, death, sex, faith and a myriad of other complex, personal issues, can’t be broken down into tiny little sound bites.

Finally, after a few months, I mustered up some courage and starting telling people, “I’m an abortion provider.” And so far, five years later, no one has spit on me or punched me and I’ve had hundreds of interesting and enlightening conversations about abortion. Since I’ve started talking about my work, I’ve discovered that many of the women in my life have made the decision to have an abortion at some time in their in their lives. I’ve talked to cab drivers about their wives and daughters, to car mechanics about their faith, to a manicurist about her abortion decision as a teen and how it affected her decision to have a child later in life. Not everyone that I talk to identifies themselves as pro-choice. And sometimes, these conversations can be pretty tough–but nine times out of ten, they are incredibly rewarding. Even when the person I am talking to doesn’t see eye to eye with me, by having a conversation I’m helping to create a more open environment where people feel safe talking about a tough topic.

Talking about abortion never fails to remind me that pregnancy doesn’t discriminate. It’s something that affects every woman at some point in her life and has a ripple effect that touches every part of her life and many of the people involved in her life.

So my call and challenge to all of you out there, is to be brave and be willing to talk about abortion. Not to fight. Not to try to change people’s minds. Just be willing to have a conversation about these complex issues and maybe create an environment where we can all talk about those touchy, hard issues that we like to avoid.

I am Dr. Tiller.

Dr. Tiller Works in Pittsburgh, PA.
Jul 20th, 2009

dr t pittsburgh

For thirty years, I was the director of Allegheny Reproductive Health Center, but my work goes back even earlier. Before the Roe vs Wade decision, I volunteered with a referral group that found locations for women seeking an abortion. So early on I learned that women knew when it was or was not the right time for them to bring forth a new life. I heard their stories, I walked at their side as they sometimes anguished, always wanting make a moral choice. I have met their partners, their mothers, their grandmothers, friends and colleagues. Their stories have shaped my entire adult life as have the dedicated physicians and staff members I have worked with through the years. Through the women, our patients, I learned so much about life’s possibilities, the hopes and yearnings of women, young and old. I learned about courage, dignity and respect, and I hope I have given as good as I’ve received. I cannot imagine a richer, fuller life than I have had, sharing both the joy and the grief with so many families. Dr Tiller believed wholeheartedly in the work he did. So do the many thousands who will carry on after him.

I am Dr. Tiller.

Dr. Tiller Practices in Fayetteville, AR.
Jun 29th, 2009

No photo.

I provide abortions for my patients and for any other girl or woman who feels this her best option after making what is, for most women and their families, a soul searing self-examination before arriving at the decision to abort a pregnancy.

Why would I or any other reputable physician provide abortions? Good question.

First the long answer.

In 1964, I was admitted to medical school on the day that our second child was born. I sat with my wife through her labor and at the last minute they took her into the delivery room where our son was born. My mother and father, her mother, my sister and about half dozen friends were at the hospital with us. All came into her room a few minutes after delivery. There was such a tremendous feeling of love and goodwill in that room that I decided then and there that if I were granted the opportunity, I was going to become an Obstetrician.

I started medical school at age twenty-nine, the father of two wonderful children, the husband of a wonderful wife, and the happiest man in the world.

But a large part of this answer began years before the night I decided to become an Obstetrician.

I grew up in a small town, the son of small town teachers. We were Methodists but we went to whichever of the two churches (they alternated services) was open on a particular day for worship, Sunday School, MYF, BTU, prayer meeting or revival; the Baptist or the Methodist, it didn’t matter…we were there! My father was the Sunday School superintendent (at the Methodist church) and my mother played the piano at both churches. Obviously we were well churched. We were also poor as church mice since my parents had five children on a very limited income.

I had no concept that I would ever be able to go to medical school when I was young, and when we started in 1964, I had no idea how we were going to be able to finish. But my mother always said to me, “the Lord has a special purpose for your life.” (I suspect that she told all her children that.) The longer I live, even though I am not a particularly superstitious man, the more I have come to believe that to be true for each of us – if we make it happen.

By 1967 I was a third year medical student, still with no visible means of support, and we were pregnant with our third child. It was the spring of that year and I was ending my rotation in the Ob-Gyn Service clinic. I was assigned a 40 plus year old, poverty stricken mother of several children. I think she was unmarried but I am not sure of that now. This care worn mother-of-several had a large abdominal mass that I rapidly determined to be a well advanced pregnancy. I asked my resident to come and break the news to this woman; it was very obvious to me that she was not going to be happy about the news of another pregnancy. When told that she – already unable to adequately feed and clothe her family – was again pregnant, she looked up at me and the resident. There we stood, two white males, well clothed, well feed young men with superior educations. We were, in her eyes, stunningly blessed and obviously going places in the world. She began to weep silently. She must have assumed, for good reason, that there was no way that we would understand her problems; she knew also that there was nothing that we could or would do to relieve her lacerating misery.

“Oh God, doctor,” she said quietly, “I was hoping it was cancer.”

That mother’s anguished whisper eventually became a shriek of despair and hopelessness that has reverberated in my heart and mind and soul for over thirty years. Before that moment, forever seared like a brand on my memory, I would have described myself as “Pro-Life” had I then known this political term .

Over the next few years, I was exposed to real life as it is lived by millions of people who don’t have the sanctification granted in America to those who are white, male, well educated, well gene-ed, well nurtured, well advantaged. I learned that what this woman knew was a personal tragedy for herself and her family, was only one face in a multifaceted problem confronting thousands of girls and women every day.

How did I learn this?

I learned it – really made it a part of my essential being – by seeing the repercussions of desperation walk, and crawl, and be carried through our emergency room door three, four, five times, every night for four years. Each night we would admit to the wards of University Hospital in Little Rock (a fairly small hospital, as metropolitan hospitals go) girls and women with raging fevers, extraordinary uterine and pelvic infections, enormous blood loss, and a multitude of serious injuries of the pelvic and intra-abdominal organs as a result of illegal and self-induced abortions. During the years 1970 through the end of my residency in June, 1972 we did in the same hospital perhaps twenty to thirty safe, legal abortions a month on girls and women of various ages for mostly elective reasons. The contrast between the outcomes for these two sets of women was dramatic, not only for what happened to them immediately – that is, the almost total lack of complications in those undergoing legal abortions and the terrible consequences of some of the illegal abortions that we saw – but also for what happened over the next few years to those who had illegal abortions as they discovered that they were sterile, or faced total hysterectomy for the effects of injuries suffered during their illegal procedures.

I could and sometimes do go on for hours about what I saw during those years of training and in early private practice, before abortion became universally legal and affordable in the first few months of pregnancy for any woman who determined, for a myriad of reasons, that carrying a pregnancy to term and delivering a baby was not in her best interest. Or perhaps not in the best interests of her family. (The very poor in those early days of legal abortion were covered by Medicaid.)

But what of the concern for, as a ninth grader expressed it, “someone who is often forgotten, the little life who doesn’t even have a chance to live.”

No one, neither the patient receiving an abortion, nor the person doing the abortion, is ever, at anytime, unaware that they are ending a life. We just don’t believe that a developing embryo or fetus, whose mother cannot or will not accept it, has the same moral claims on us, claims to autonomy and justice, that an adolescent or adult woman has. I have never seen an abortion decision entered into lightly by anyone involved. The decision to have an abortion is most often made in the time of the first great personal moral crisis that ever faces a girl, a woman, her family and the people who love them. It is only those who stand outside and condemn the women and families who are faced with these dilemmas who take lightly the decisions made in these straits and trivialize the circumstances in which they are made.

Moral dilemmas are always about difficult problems. Decisions between right and wrong are not moral dilemmas; decisions between right and wrong should be no-brainers and should never be difficult.

It is in deciding between what we consider morally near-equal alternatives that we are forced to make agonizing appraisals. The decision between competing evils or competing goods – these are the judgments that may burn in your mind and live forever in your memory, that fry your soul. And it matters not whether one believes elective abortion a good or an evil, for every abortion decision is made between self-perceived competing goods or competing evils, not between obvious good and self-evident evil.

Is legal abortion dangerous? I personally have not seen an abortion injury to a woman since 1974, with three exceptions: One was a young women who became sterile after a post legal-abortion infection in 1974 in my practice; another was a woman from my practice who had a ruptured uterus in about 1975 as the result of an abortion done in Little Rock at about twenty-four weeks by a resident using a no-longer-used method of abortion.

There are risks to any medical procedure; however, legal abortion, done by competent medical personnel is among the safest operative procedures performed today in the United States.

I mentioned earlier that my mother always said to me, “the Lord has a special purpose for your life,” and that the older I get, the more I think she may have been right; not just for my life, but for all of us. (But we have to find that purpose ourselves.) We each have unique skills, talents and abilities to be used in the service of our fellow human beings. What I mean by this is, that I was led into OB-Gyn by my love for delivering babies. Gynecology was really to be only an appendage to my obstetrical practice and I am sure that providing abortions, even thinking about abortions, would never have been a major part of my life had other physicians in my area continued to provide them as was being done prior to 1984.

However, I soon found my practice inundated with abortion patients because other physicians who had also been providing abortions stopped doing so. In late 1983 it suddenly became uncomfortable, and very soon dangerous, to provide abortions. I literally had no option but to make a “Sophie’s choice” between delivering babies, which I loved, or making what for me would be an immoral and unethical decision, that is, to choose to abandon those girls, women and families who started coming to my office by the dozens. How could I look my children, my wife, my mother and my friends – myself – in the face and say, “I believe that abortion should be legal, safe, and available. But now some people disapprove and it’s become very uncomfortable, perhaps even dangerous, to provide them. And so I am going to stop doing what I know to be absolutely right. When it gets uncomfortable or dangerous, it’s OK to say, `not me, coach.’”

Was that the morality that I wanted to demonstrate to my children? To parade in front of my wife, my family and friends?

Not me, coach!

Why do I provide abortions?

Here is the short answer.

Like multitudes before me and, I trust, multitudes to come, I eventually heard (Try as I might to avoid hearing it!) in that mother’s grief-filled declaration, “Oh God, Doctor, I was hoping it was cancer”, a still, small voice asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” to which I was at last compelled to reply, “here am I, send me.”

I am Dr. Tiller.

Dr. Tiller Works in Illinois.
Jun 24th, 2009

Dr Tiller Chicago

I have been working as a volunteer in a clinic that offers abortion services for over a year. The senseless killing of Dr. Tiller devastated me, but remained a forceful reminder of how, even today, the gravity of working for women’s rights remains. I am proud of the work that abortion providers continue to do and I hope that pro-life activists can work to understand the importance of placing any and all decisions surrounding a woman’s health in her hands and her hands alone.

If nothing else, the question of abortion highlights the need for awareness surrounding the rights of women and the ways in which women remain narrowly defined based upon their relationship to others, rather than their individual sense of being.

I am pro-choice, most simply, because I trust in my sisters to make informed decisions about their lives (with the help of sustained education and access to healthcare and services) that promote their own well-being and the well-being of those they love. I believe that the demand for access to abortion should be coupled with the demand for community services for families–something threatened right now in Illinois due to economic constraints and perhaps skewed priorities.

I am pro-choice because I cannot possibly understand the lives of others and must only trust that others are trying to make the best decisions possible. And because I know we cannot always make the best decision (with the resources we’re given), part of being pro-choice for me means dedicating my activism to increasing resources and advocating for the best healthcare and education.

Pro-choice to me is invariably pro-woman and pro-community. The State should have absolutely no control over a woman’s body or lifecourse.

I believe this with all my heart and that is why I, too, am Dr. Tiller.

I am Dr. Tiller.

Dr. Tiller Works in Washington State.
Jun 17th, 2009

No photo.

I’ve been working in abortion care in one way or another since I got out of college, mostly for the same clinic, Aurora Medical Services, in Seattle. I worked at the abortion clinic through my own planned and wanted pregnancy. I work there now as a mom. I work there as an apprentice midwife, and I’m about to be done working there as a distance-learning student.

I have some very deeply-held beliefs which inform my work in abortion care. My religious faith has taught me that we are all manifestations of the Divine, and as such I seek in all things to act out of love for my fellow beings. I have strong moral convictions which honor the divinity of life.

As part of this, I believe in the rights to self-determination, autonomy, and bodily integrity. I have no right to exert my will over the will of another with regard to what happens with their own being. This is why I believe that informed consent in health care and public health education are so important — we need to be informed health-care consumers who take up our own power over our bodies, rather than abdicating our power to a health care provider who tells us what to do. This is why I am working toward midwifery — birthing women and their babies need care that honors their unique humanity and wisdom instead of honoring routines, protocols and institutional guidelines. And this is why I believe that women choosing abortion deserve to be able to make that choice without danger, fear, or shame.

When I was pregnant and our midwives asked me about my work plans, I said that I wanted to keep working up until I really couldn’t any more. “I love the idea of being hugely pregnant and still wholeheartedly supporting women in their choice to end an unwanted pregnancy. These are both life-affirming choices, my choice to have a child, and their choice to end a pregnancy, doing what’s best for them, their families and any potential child who could come out of the situation.” The conversations I had with patients about my pregnancy didn’t necessarily give me room to articulate that point. People would ask, “Are you pregnant?” or, “When are you due?” and I’d say, “Yes, we’re due in March, it’s our first, we planned, saved a bunch of money, and got pregnant just when we wanted to. We’re excited, but we also know we have no idea what we’re getting ourselves into.” This exchange came most easily with the women who were already moms (the majority of our patients), and who were totally comfortable their choice to end their own pregnancy. We would talk about where they had their kids and what the experience was like for them. We would compare notes on pregnancy symptoms. They asked if I was having a boy or a girl, and most were shocked to learn that we had chosen not to find out. These women seemed to understand implicitly the truth that I was living as a happily pregnant clinic worker: that we are all just women, playing out the cycles of our reproductive lives, me starting my journey to motherhood, they ensuring the best for their already-born children by choosing not to have any more right then.

I wish, though, that the people who were uncomfortable with encountering pregnant me at the abortion clinic had said something about it, explicitly, to me. I wanted to engage with them on this, to be given the opportunity to say that we are both affirming life in our different ways. But the people who were uncomfortable were generally too polite to say anything, or perhaps just didn’t want to talk about it. The truth, so hidden in our culture, is that pregnancy has different meanings in different contexts to different people. My mother, a veteran of four pregnancies including a miscarriage, two abortions, and me, was not able to relate to my excitement at the positive test before I’d even missed a period. “I can’t get invested in this until the second trimester,” she told me. When I told her how unsupportive that sounded, she said, “Remember, I’ve never experienced trying to get pregnant.” She had a hard time getting past what pregnancy had meant in her life, to be able to get excited about what it meant in mine. For the women at the clinic that were truly uncomfortable with me caring for them when I was obviously pregnant, it’s the same thing; the meaning of pregnancy for them in that moment was far from joyful, and the fact that that could be totally valid alongside my happily round belly did not compute. We like our truths in black and white in this culture, no room for nuance or a plurality of meanings. But that’s just how it is. The same me that assists at births as an apprentice midwife assists at abortion procedures as a health care assistant. The same me that planned my own wanted pregnancy was there to help a woman cut through the guilt and the rhetoric that did not really belong to her, to help her see the truth, that she was making a good choice, based on her circumstances. Her pregnancy meant something different than mine, and I could recognize that and support her in her circumstances, even if they were different from mine.

Whether or not we beleive abortion is right, whether or not it is legal, women will still have abortions. Look around the world, where a significant percentage of maternal mortality is caused by illegal abortion. Living children will lose their mothers. Making abortion illegal again will not end abortion. Though you may be uncomfortable with the concept of abortion, please recognize that making abortion illegal does not end abortion. It only leads to criminalization of women and death.

No one would undertake such a dangerous choice as illegal abortion lightly, and yet it is undertaken because women know when they cannot mother one child more. In our country, where abortion is legal, opponents seek to create a similar climate of fear, shame and silence as though abortion were a crime; they call it “murder,” which is a crime. I suppose that I am grateful that women only have to contend with shame when they choose abortion in the US, rather than shame and death. Abortion care workers, it seems, are the ones who have to worry about dying as a result of legal abortion. I wish that women and care providers could both approach abortion without shame or fear of death.

George Tiller said, “Trust women.” Yes. Trust women to make the best choices for their own families Trust women to make their own private moral decisions. Trust that another individual might know their own life better than a stranger. Trust that your fellow humans make choices that seem just as absolutely right to them as your truths do to you — and entertain the possibility that the values of another hold more truth in their own life than your values. In our own lives we live by our own truths. I would never try to force another person to have an abortion, just as I would never force another person to have an unwanted child. It is a dishonor to the humanity (and to the divinity) of another to enforce that your will be done in their life. Each of us deserves the dignity of self-determination, if we are choosing to continue a pregnancy and give birth, or if we are choosing to end an unwanted, unwelcome and/or unhealthy pregnancy.

I am Dr. Tiller.

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