Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dr. Tiller and Survival of Choice

Dr. George Tiller was assassinated just five hours ago as I write this, gunned down while he served as usher at his church, a church he has attended for over a decade. There are so many things to express, to say, about the hole that exists in my body right now.

I've run into Dr. Tiller at fundraising events before, and I know he was getting old. He was 67 and still providing late-term abortions to women from around the country. I knew that someday, probably soon, he would no longer be with us as a provider, and I've wondered what we are to do then. However, I had figured we'd have time to plan. Time for another provider to learn and take his place. Not for "the cause" but for women.

This is not just about an abortion provider assassinated. It's not about the cruelty of someone shooting him down in church. I don't know yet if the shooter is religious or not, but the chances of him being Christian are very, very high. This man walked into a place of worship of his God and shot down a fellow believer. Because they believed differently on a point or two. Everyone in that church suffered today, not just Dr. Tiller and his family.

There are two facilities in the state of Kansas that provide abortions. The other is in the Kansas City area. For Wichitans, that's a three hour drive. For other Kansans, it is quite a bit longer. Kansas has a 24 hour waiting period on abortion. We have to see providers twice. Now, that wait is even longer. Every woman in Kansas suffered today.

Dr. Tiller provided late-term services to women after 21 weeks. He was one of three in the country who did. Over the years, I've read plenty of articles from women about their difficult decisions. Some women who miscarried late in their pregnancy but who still had the dead fetus inside of them were denied life necessary procedures because late-term abortion laws are written in this country in such a way as to put doctors at risk for providing services when a dead fetus doesn't expel itself. Doctors who do not provide abortions are afraid to save women's lives. But Dr. Tiller wasn't. Every pregnant woman in America suffered today.

For years, protesters have stood outside Tiller's clinic and harassed women on their way in. They have taken pictures of women and their families and posted them on the internet. They have followed, harassed, and posted on the internet for all to see the faces, names, and homes of his clinic workers. And they are proud of this harassment as is evident from a 2004 Rolling Stone Magazine article. They did everything they could to take away the choice of women, a difficult choice, a sometimes necessary choice.

Today, choice was taken away from women. Sure, it still "exists," but at what cost? Three more hours to Kansas City? An overnight stay? More harassers camped outside in Kansas City since they don't have to be in Wichita? Knowing these harassers are willing not only to stalk and berate but assassinate ... What choice do I have?

With every assassination, with every attempt, with every hateful word spoken, they take away choice.

God gave humans free will. He gave Adam and Eve the ability to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. He wanted them to make a choice. How could their hearts be pure if they were not given an option they chose not to take?

This was a political assassination, and it was an attack on women. We cannot choose not to terminate a pregnancy if we don't have the option. Our options to prevent pregnancy are limited. And, now, even moreso. The fear we already felt is greater now.

This is why you are labeled a threat to national security. This is why you are terrorists.

I hope you find yourselves in jail. All of you.

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