Writings About George Tiller and Where We Go From Here

By Christine Cupaiuolo — June 2, 2009

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 previous post on Tiller’s murder, 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, Our Bodies Ourselves executive director, expanded on her blog post about how to show support for abortion providers with three things everyone can do. And we continue to support the efforts of IAmDrTiller.com and the George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund.

Analysis & Public Policy

Abortion Wars, the First Time Around: 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.”

The Legacy of George Tiller: 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.”

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

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

In Memory of Dr. George Tiller: A Tireless Supporter of Women’s Dignity: “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.”

Why Clinic Violence is Obama’s Problem: 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.”

George Tiller Needs More Than Candlelight Vigils: 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.”

The Murder of Dr. George Tiller, A Foreshadowing: 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.”

Who killed George Tiller?: 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.”

I Write Letters: Melissa McEwan at Shakesville’s open letter to President Obama, including this direct response to his statement on the matter: “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.”

What Should Change in Wake of Tiller Murder: 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

Sad News in Closing of George Tiller’s Clinic: “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.”

Closed Clinic Leaves Abortion Protesters at a Loss: “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.

The Circle Continues: “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.”

The Compassion of Dr. Tiller: “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.

Attorney General Directs U.S. Marshals to Protect Women’s Health Clinics, Providers: “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

The George Tiller I Knew: A diary entry at Daily Kos.

A Friend Recalls Her Visit to Tiller’s Clinic and Another Memory of Visiting Dr. Tiller: Both posted at DoubleX.

Where Will Women Go Now?: Over at Salon’s Broadsheet, Kate Harding quotes from a number of personal narratives posted online.

Legacy.com Guest Book

Statements from Reproductive Rights Groups

Planned Parenthood Federation of America; Planned Parenthood is also excerpting additional statements from groups and public officials.

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals

6 responses to “Writings About George Tiller and Where We Go From Here”

  1. 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. Over the last 24 hours, my partner and I created a website, http://www.IAmDrTiller.com . 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.


    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 http://iamdrtiller.com/submit) or to email the photo and your story at info@iamdrtiller.com. 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. 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 http://latinosexuality.blogspot.com/2009/05/rip-dr-george-tiller.html

    National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health Decries the Murder of Dr. Tiller http://www.latinainstitute.org/

    VivirLatino http://vivirlatino.com/2009/05/31/doctor-who-provided-abortions-shot-to-death-at-church.php

    Angry Black Bitch http://angryblackbitch.blogspot.com/2009/06/untitled.html

    Culture Kitchen http://culturekitchen.com/liza/blog/george_tiller_pro-choice_martyr

    Jack & Jill Politics http://www.jackandjillpolitics.com/2009/05/homegrown-terrorism-strikes-abortion-provider-george-tiller-murdered-in-front-of-his-church/

    Countering Anti-Choice Terrorism by Melissa Harris-Lacewell http://www.thenation.com/blogs/notion/440133/countering_anti_choice_terrorism

    My Ecdysis http://myecdysis.blogspot.com/2009/06/relationship-pregnancy-abortion-faith.html

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