The Assassination of Dr. Tiller

I wrote this article back in 2009, when I was consulting for the local Planned Parenthood offices. I re-publish it here because there are some major reproductive rights bills, cases, and issues in front of a number of law-making bodies, including the Supreme Court (Hobby Lobby v. Obamacare).

I‘ve been too emotional & distraught to share my thoughts on this vicious crime to write anything coherent until today.

Today, I returned to my work at Planned Parenthood without really knowing what to expect. Our fan club, who has been mostly absent for several weeks was back today; arriving early and with several more grisly, photoshopped posters and a large statue of the Virgin Mary. Ironically, this is the statue full of Pagan symbolism: Mary stands, palms facing outward in a gesture of power and blessing. She is standing upon the moon, stars and a serpent, wearing the colors of the heavens. The Queen of Heaven, dressed in pseudo-Jewish drag.

I walk past the fax machine and bulletin board on the way to my desk each morning. The volume of alerts – from NARAL, the National Abortion Federation, other PP organizations…warning us, beseeching us to step up security in addition to the information for sending donations, cards, flowers, etc. to the funeral and his memorial fund were, quite simply, sobering.

I found it curious that MSN and until late this afternoon, Yahoo, seemed to be lacking in any information about the murder of Dr. Tiller, or the apprehension of the suspected killer. Curious, how instead, there was a picture of a blonde, Caucasian woman face-to-face with a Black woman, obviously in the middle of some altercation/confrontation. I surmised it was from some lame reality show called “Charm School” and the photo was titled, “Can White women and Black women get along?”

Although there was a brief note that President Obama was “outraged” over the cold-blooded murder of Dr. Tiller on hallowed ground, no one seems to be treating this as the act of domestic terrorism that it is. Everyone from Governor Palin to the right-wing news pundits to the leaders of various militant anti-choice groups say they are not responsible for this and that they are non-violent, but they find a way to add that “Dr. Tiller the Baby Killer” got what was coming to him.

The claim that these militant anti-choice groups are non-violent is ludicrous. They stalk, threaten, harass, assault, insult, vandalize, injure and do everything that they can, dancing just along the edges of what local law enforcement will respond to; to intimidate those who seek abortion services and those who help them to procure those services.

Obama says we need to find common ground, but unfortunately, the issues at stake here cannot be reconciled. No compromise exists for such fundamentally opposing views. The bottom line is you either believe that life begins at conception or that it is merely a clump of cells with the potential to become a viable human being. Unfortunately, there is no definitive test for the existence of a soul, let alone the presence of a soul – so the crux of the abortion debate boils down to what one believes.

Obama also says that he wants to work toward prevention so that abortions are rendered unnecessary, except in the most extreme of situations. Unfortunately, contraception sometimes fails and a woman – that embodied gateway between the mysteries of life and death – must make a choice to either remove the potential life from her person, or to allow this new life to come through.

Ultimately, it becomes apparent that the anti-choice militants are not actually pro-life, but rather controlling women’s bodies and sexuality. Like a condemnation from the Old Testament, pregnancy, childbirth and the raising of children is punishment for the transgressions of Eve. For those who claim to be pro-life, inflicting children as punishment upon women who express themselves sexually with a partner is a rather dim view of co-creating life with God.

If these individuals were truly pro-life, they would actively support universal healthcare. They would support not a minimum wage, but a living wage, so that women and their families would not have to consider abortion primarily for financial reasons. They would oppose war, torture and the death penalty. They would oppose the war on drugs, which has devastated so many urban areas and taken fathers away from their families for non-violent offenses. They would oppose factory farming and puppy mills – demanding that animals be treated and slaughtered humanely.

I am reminded of the movie; The Fisher King in that Dr. Tiller’s wife Jeanne was in the choir while her husband passed out the daily bulletin in the foyer of their church. I hope that the vicious, cold-blooded murder of her husband will not break her.

Godspeed Dr. Tiller and thank you for championing women’s right to be sovereign over her own body. Thank you for your many sacrifices and courageous service to the most vulnerable in your community – and for your selfless aid to those who could not find help within their own towns and communities. You were one of the best and the brightest of us and we’re much poorer for your loss.

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