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Reflections: One Year

May 31, 2010 marks the one year anniversary of Dr. Tiller’s murder. I want to open up this space for your thoughts, reflections, and comments. How has Dr. Tiller’s life inspired you? How did his murder influence your activism? What do you think the future of the reproductive justice movement is now? Both abortion providers and pro-choice individuals are encouraged to submit.

Please email your reflections to info@iamdrtiller.com. You can request to have your submission be anonymous if you so desire. If you prefer, you can use the contact form below.

Here are some reflections to get you thinking:

From the Abortioneers: Gathering for Love, Remembering Dr. Tiller

From NARAL’s Nancy Keenan: One Year Later, Honoring Dr. Tiller

From Julie Burkart, Executive Director of Trust Women PAC: Reflections on the Death of an American Hero

See the many posts at the Abortion Gang

Statement from Senator Reid: On the One Year Anniversary of the Murder of Dr. George Tiller

Editorial in USA Today: Dr. Tiller was Pro-Life

Equal Writes: Marking the One-Year Anniversary of Dr. Tiller’s Death

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Danielle: “I woke up the morning of Dr. Tiller’s death, and as usual, slumped downstairs, sat at the computer, and clicked open the internet browser to yahoo.com. The first thing I saw was a picture of Dr. Tiller, with the headline he had been killed. I screamed. I cried, cried out, ‘No!’

We need to do everything in our power to keep abortion legal, and make it as accessible as possible. It is unacceptable that women are lied to, threatened, and unable to get the procedure for lack of funds. We need to stop with the “abortion is a tragedy” and “it’s such a hard decision for women” arguments to win over anti-choice folk. Yes, it is difficult and a tragedy for some women, but for many others, it isn’t. In honor of Dr. Tiller, who was unjustly silenced, we need to stop silencing the voices of those whose experiences don’t fit into a neat little narrative that pleases those who prefer to keep us as slaves to our uterus.”

Alexandra: “It is ridiculous that the FBI has not arrested or investigated more of Roeder’s friends in connection with Tiller’s murder. He was not a lone wolf. As long as these people go free, it will be difficult to prevent more tragedies. They’ve got the right to say what they want, but how many more antis will confuse the right to speak with the right to kill before we do something about it?”

Tara: “Words can not express how deeply saddened I am to hear of the thoughtless, horrific, senseless act which took place in a house of God, where an individual should be safe. He helped my family and countless others during some of their darkest moments. Although I wish I would have never heard of Dr. Tiller, and continued to think pregnancy always ended happily, I am very grateful he was there when we needed him. He was an amazing man with an unbelievable commitment to helping women. How many doctors drive to work in an armored vehicle and wear a bullet proof vest? No matter what your opinion, pro-life/pro-choice, Dr. Tiller was a husband, father, grandfather and friend taken needlessly.

Up until August of 2008, I would’ ve considered myself pro-life. I’ve seen so many of the graphic photos of terminations that it just made me ill. I couldn’t imagine why ANY woman would put themselves through such trauma. I always assumed that woman who used any type of termination service were unintended, healthy pregnancies. I now realize things aren’t always black and white.

I am grateful to Dr. Tiller for making a horrible situation a little more tolerable. He didn’t force us into making a decision. He was able to provide us with information many local/regional doctors were not, and he gave us the option to have some control over the most difficult time in our lives.”

Reema: “Dr. Tiller is no longer physically with us, but I am going to let him live on in my heart, mind, and in my actions. God bless you, Dr. Tiller.”

Lauren: “When Dr. Tiller was murdered, the first thing I felt was fear. At the time, my older sister was working in an abortion clinic–I was shocked and so scared that I could lose her to the same kind of hateful and senseless violence. I’m lucky to still have my sister and it’s bullshit that I have to worry about her safety in that way. Fuck you, Scott Roeder and supporters: abortion providers are people who have hopes, loves, dreams, interests, ideas, and family and friends. Don’t take them away from us.”

Marc: “I sat there in the hot and dusty tent, my M-4 by my side, staring blankly into space. Just minutes earlier, I’d logged onto CNN, using the now-and-then working Internet the U.S. military provided, and saw that George Tiller had been killed.

Though details were still coming at the time, there was no mistake about it – George Tiller was killed by an extremist – a homegrown terrorist – who did not believe in the same values as Tiller – the values that ask us to trust women to make decisions on what was best for them.

Just weeks earlier, I’d thought about sending Tiller a thank-you card for all the sacrifices he’d made in the name of choice. Now, it was too late, I thought to myself as I sat there, recalling the first time I met Tiller. As a member of my school’s Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, I’d attended a conference in Washington, D.C., where Tiller spoke about his fight for reproductive justice. I remember sitting there in the front row, in awe of Tiller’s committment to defending the basic reproductive rights of women. In his speech, Tiller had talked about the first time he was shot, and the many death threats he’d received.

Through all the ordeals, in keeping the clinics opened, Tiller said he sent a message back to the anti-choice activists: “Hell, no, we won’t go.” The room exploded into applause, and later, as he finished the speech, Tiller got off stage and sat next to me at the empty table.

“I think I’ll sit next to you here,” he said, smiling. I nodded. Later, as the conference ended, I reached over to Tiller and shook his hand, whispering a thank you. Though I’d made many connections during that weekend’s conference, my meeting with Tiller always stood out in my mind, and is a day I’ll never forget.

Just for a moment, sitting there and staring out at the unforgiving sun – the scorching 120-degree heat of the desert, I began to think of the definition of the word ‘hero.’ George Tiller was a hero, and I was not. Despite being in faraway lands and at times in situations that threatened my life, the contribution I made was nothing compared to Tiller’s.

George Tiller woke up each day fighting for what he believed in, despite knowing he could be killed at anytime. When he was shot at the first time and injured, he slowly got up, and continue to contribute to the all-important mission of protecting the freedoms and rights of women. And, even when the work day was over, the threats followed him. For Tiller, there was no holidays, no downtime, for he knew that at anytime, he could be killed by anti-choice terrorists for providing the services to women very few others had the courage and convictions to.

I am thankful for Tiller – for without women and men like Tiller – the lives of my mother, sisters, friends, classmates, lovers and fellow Soldiers would be less enhanced; and because the quality of my life is a direct reflection of the freedoms and opportunities the women in my life are afforded, George Tiller enhanced my life, too. In short, in fighting for women, George Tiller also fought for me.

This Memorial Day, as we take the time to remember those who fought for our freedoms – those who died in the trenches of World War II, and the brave, ordinary Americans of the Revolutionary War, let’s include George Tiller on that list, because while he might not have died in uniform, George Tiller died on the job. George Tiller died for what he believed in. George Tiller died so that so many others may be free.”

Émilie: “Il y a un an, le 31 mai 2009, Dr George Tiller était assassiné. Il pratiquait, depuis 1970, des avortements de premier, deuxième et troisième trimestre dans la clinique médicale privée qu’il dirigeait à Wichita, dans l’état du Kansas aux États-Unis. Il se spécialisait particulièrement dans les interruptions volontaires de grossesse au-delà de la 24e semaine, dans les rares cas où des malformations graves et irréversibles au fétus étaient diagnostiquées tardivement ou dans les cas où la grossesse compromet sérieusement la santé de la femme. Il a ainsi acquis une grande notoriété dans son milieu. Notre société a besoin de ce type de médecin et le fait qu’il était l’un des rares spécialistes à offrir ce service est très préoccupant. Il a consacré l’ensemble de sa vie active à venir en aide aux femmes et à revendiquer leur autonomie. Il était un fervent défenseur de la liberté de choix de recourir à un avortement.

Pendant près de quarante ans, son parcours professionnel a sans cesse été parsemé d’obstacles. Tout au long de sa carrière, il a été la mire des antagonistes radicaux au droit à un avortement professionnel et sécuritaire. Menaces, atteinte à l’intégrité physique, actes de vandalisme et poursuites légales étaient tous des moyens utilisés tour à tour et sans relâche par les opposants farouche au libre choix. Animé par un humanisme sans borne et une volonté inébranlable, il a n’a jamais cessé de prodiguer des soins aux femmes qui en avaient besoin malgré la forte opposition à laquelle il faisait face. Pour toute réponse, Dr Tiller intensifiait les efforts pour encadrer et soutenir les femmes tout en acceptant et en assumant les risques associés encourus en tant que cible de choix. Ce courage lui a valu une renommée internationale. L’expression « Attitude is everything » dont il faisait la promotion était une petite phrase toute simple qui référait à un profond désir de paix, de respect et de tolérance. Fondamentalement, Dr George Tiller était d’avis qu’une famille est capable de choisir, de façon consciente, éclairée et autonome, parmi les options qui s’offrent à elle lorsqu’elle fait face à une épreuve, incluant une grossesse risquée et complexe.

Quelques mois avant son départ à jamais, j’ai été entouré par la bonté infinie de ce médecin exceptionnel. La peine, le désarroi et le sentiment d’impuissance que j’ai éprouvés à l’annonce de sa mort et qui m’ont rongés longtemps après se sont tranquillement transformés en une sorte d’énergie que j’arrivais tant bien que mal à saisir. Avec le temps, la réponse est venue d’elle-même. J’ai commencé à canaliser cette énergie et à m’en servir pour continuer, à ma façon, l’œuvre de Dr Tiller. Le monde qui nous entoure nous envoie quotidiennement des messages concernant la place l’avortement dans la société, messages qu’il ne faut pas ignorer ni prendre à la légère. De petits gestes concrets, s’informer et informer constituent la clé pour laisser ouvert aux femmes le chemin des possibilités, du libre choix. Et mon désir de pousser l’action plus loin ne fait que grandir, tous les jours.

Mais aujourd’hui, je m’arrête. Pour me souvenir. Je m’arrête pour cet homme qui a sacrifié sa vie pour celle des femmes. Pour le médecin qui, après avoir entendu parlé du cas d’une femme qui est décédée suite à un avortement réalisé dans un environnement non sécuritaire, a décidé de mettre à profit ses connaissances médicales pour offrir des services d’interruption volontaire de grossesses aux femmes qui font ce choix. Je m’arrête pour me rappeler, célébrer cet homme pour qui la raison de vivre était la santé des femmes. Ce n’est que pour repartir avec encore plus d’énergie, à l’image de cet homme de grand respect, médecin littéralement dévoué au bien-être des femmes et de leurs familles.

Dr Tiller vit dans mon cœur, à travers les belles chansons que j’entends et par les actions que j’entreprends. Il a sauvé tant de femmes et leurs familles. Aujourd’hui, tant de femmes ont besoins de soins. Et celles-ci sont la raison pour laquelle il faut continuer le combat que menait avec fierté Dr George Tiller.”

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