Thursday, June 4, 2009

Dr. George Tiller

when i heard the news of his murder, i was mortified, as i'm sure all three people who read this blog also were. it's taken me a while to get my head around what this means, and to learn about and understand both the importance of his work and the creeping restrictions on a woman's right to make the right health decisions for her.

i worked with Dr. Tiller's PAC, ProKanDo, and a lot of folks who were involved with it or other organizations in Kansas. i've got a soft spot for the state, not only because of my old colleague who was a native, rabid Jayhawk, but because i had universally positive experiences with every single person i worked with in Kansas.

from what i understand, Dr. Tiller was not only a tremendously brave person (as is oft-reported, he endured threats his entire career and was shot in both arms in 1993), but also an extremely compassionate doctor and community member. i think the thing that moved me to write this is this piece in the New York Times which excerpts and rounds up the personal stories that have poured out in the wake of his murder. on Tell Me More on Tuesday Michelle Martin interviewed Dr. Joseph Booker, the only obsteritrician left in Mississippi to offer abortion services, who pointed out that the picketing of offices and home residences, threats, and stigma attached to providing these services to women has caused fewer doctors to provide them. most medical schools, according to Dr. Booker, don't even teach abortion procedures anymore. they're not even taught. more than the fact that he's been threatened repeatedly, more than the fact that he's been under U.S. Marshall protection off and on for fifteen years, that's what struck me most.

when we talk about making the personal political, think about that. think about what it takes to even be in a position to help women make these unbelievably tough decisions. one striking paragraph in an otherwise totally disgusting, confused, morally relativistic piece on Slate by William Saletan follows:
The people who do late-term abortions are the ones who don't flinch. They're like the veterans you sometimes see in war documentaries, quietly recounting what they faced and did. You think you're pro-choice. You think marching or phone-banking makes you an activist. You know nothing. There's you, and then there are the people who work in the clinics. And then there are the people who use the forceps. And then there are the people who use the forceps nobody else will use. At the end of the line, there's George Tiller.
we've all got our own views on choice and our own experiences with friends and loved ones who fall across the entire spectrum on the issue; we also probably have people in our lives in medical school or who practice medicine. i don't pretend to know what to do next: some of my friends have suggested making a donation to planned parenthood or another organization of its kind. i think that sounds pretty good. i think it's a good idea to raise the profile of this issue, and seriously think about where you stand and what you can do.

right now, though, i think it's important that we reflect and mourn. this was a heroic human being. he helped save the lives of a lot of people who would have otherwise had no recourse. he stood for, and acted on, and lived our best ideals.

1 comment:

Don't Say I Didn't said...

this is beautiful, thanks