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In Memory of Dr. Tiller, on the Fourth Anniversary of His Death

2:05 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Dr. Suzanne Poppema for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

A vigil held in honor of Dr. Tiller, Minneapolis 2009

I am a family doctor and I was a proud colleague of Dr. George Tiller’s. It is difficult to believe four years have passed since his murder.

George’s skills allowed him to help women further along in their pregnancies than I could. There were many times I sent patients to him, and I was so grateful to have him there to take care of women in his gentle and respectful way. George always lived as he believed, like many of us abortion providers try to do. He believed that no woman should ever be forced to continue a pregnancy, and he did all he could to help women in need of abortions. He dedicated his life, until the end, to this belief and this work.

He was such a committed individual. I was speaking with him about a patient the same afternoon, in 1993, when he was shot the first time. Despite his injuries to both arms, George was of course back at the office the next day. This experience led me to the magical thinking that even being shot at his church couldn’t stop Dr. Tiller.

To those of us left behind, we have to honor Dr. Tiller by working to make sure that abortion access is expanded, not curtailed. We can respect his legacy by working to ensure public funding for abortion through Medicaid and reversing the discriminatory Hyde Amendment. We can defend clinics that are fighting to stay open, in the face of bills seeking to set arbitrary regulations that have nothing to do with patient safety or quality health care. We can expose the true purpose of these laws: to shut down excellent medical facilities and force women to travel great distances to find other providers.

We can also stand firm in protecting women’s access to abortion after 20 weeks. There will always be women who don’t realize they are as pregnant as they are. I, a Harvard-trained physician, missed my own unintended pregnancy—denial is a beautiful thing—until I was in my 22nd week. There will always be women who discover that they are carrying a very sick fetus, women whose life circumstances change so drastically they can no longer undertake being a mother, women who just need our help.

We can support women by removing the shame and stigma that the anti-choice movement has associated with seeking an abortion and instead treat these women and their partners and families with great love. This is what George did each day in his clinic. This would honor his life.

We must carry on for these women, and for George. This is the remembrance he deserves—and, frankly, he would expect of us.

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Judge Rules Anti-Choice Terrorist Can Claim Religious Protection for Conversations with Tiller Murderer

10:10 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Jessica Mason Pieklo for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Priest collar

A court ruled communications with Tiller's killer to be covered by ministerial protections.

On Friday U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten handed anti-choice terrorist Angel Dillard a win, ruling Dillard doesn’t have to disclose “ministerial discussions” she had with Scott Roeder, the man convicted of murdering abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

As reported in the Topeka Capital-Journal, Marten’s ruling reversed an earlier decision that Dillard’s communications with Roeder were not protected by the ministerial exception because Dillard is not an ordained minister. But Marten held that Dillard was acting as a lay minister and was therefore entitled to the protection. It’s an incredible expansion of the privilege and one which the radical anti-choice community is no doubt taking notice.

Dillard is accused of sending a threatening letter to Dr. Mila Means who was training to provide abortion services after Tiller’s murder. According to the Department of Justice complaint against Dillard, the letter to Means mentioned Tiller’s assassination and warned Means against providing abortion services in Wichita.

In the same ruling Marten said Dillard must disclose communications she had with another inmate, Robert Campbell. Campbell claims Dillard hired him to stalk Means, while Dillard denies this and claims Campbell is trying to blackmail her.

But just because those communications must be disclosed does not guarantee they will make it into evidence in the trial, currently slated for October. At the time of trial they can be excluded from evidence if a judge decides the statements are too unreliable, a fact judge Marten made clear in his ruling. At issue in the case is whether the letter Dillard wrote to Means was a “true threat” in violation of the federal law designed to protect access to abortion clinics. In the letter, Dillard allegedly wrote that thousands of people from across the nation were scrutinizing Means’ background and would know “your habits and routines.”

The letter is chilling. In it Dillard writes, “They know where you shop, who your friends are, what you drive, where you live,” the letter said. “You will be checking under your car every day — because maybe today is the day someone places an explosive under it.”

The Dillard trial has shed light on the violent underworld of radical anti-abortion activists and the last thing this community needs is any additional enabling by the federal courts. But that’s exactly what this ruling does. If someone like Dillard can claim to be a minister so as to shield communications with convicted assassins like Scott Roeder who have admitted to wanting to instigate more deadly violence against clinic workers, then we can expect to see a lot more ministers among the most violent actors in the anti-abortion movement.

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Legacy of Tiller’s Murder: Anti-Choice Terrorists Threaten Staff at Wichita Clinic

1:41 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Kari Ann Rinker for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

Every community has its own unique history shaped its people, its geography, and its circumstance. Wichita, Kansas, has been home to such notable people as Carrie Nation and Wyatt Earp. Its geography has made it home to Indian settlements, cattle drives, and the aircraft manufacturing industry. It was the home to the first civil rights sit-in. It also earned notoriety as the home of the serial killer BTK. But another undeniable part of Wichita’s history is its place as the epicenter of the “abortion wars.” The 1991 “Summer of Mercy” (SOM), when thousands of anti-choice activists flooded into Wichita to protest Dr. George Tiller, marked the beginning of the use of extreme anti-choice tactics like harassing doctors, clinic staff, and women seeking abortions. As reproductive rights supporters in this community celebrate the recent opening of Southwind Women’s Care Center and the access to abortion care that it brings, they also brace themselves for a new wave of SOM-style tactics and a new round of anti-choice terrorist actions.

Nearly four years after Dr. Tiller’s assassination, anti-choice violence continues to percolate in Wichita. It started up again two years ago, with the harassment of Dr. Mila Means. Anti-choice terrorist Angel Dillard penned a letter threatening violence against the doctor, who sought to include abortion care in her private practice. That letter has resulted in federal charges against Dillard brought under the FACE Act. In addition to the letter, it was reported this week by RH Reality Check that the U.S. Department of Justice filed papers in court revealing that a Kansas county jail inmate said Dillard asked him last year to firebomb the home of Dr. Means.

The opening of the new abortion clinic has brought yet another round of frightening behavior from local anti-choice forces. The clinic’s executive director, Julie Burkhart, has been harassed at her home and has had to file a temporary restraining order against local terrorist Mark Hollick after he pointed a sign saying “Where is Your Church?” at her home (an obvious reference to the place of Dr. Tiller’s assassination). Meanwhile, Troy Newman, of Operation Rescue infamy, is already posting pictures and audio of a person who he claims is a new physician at the clinic.

A recent YouTube video posted by David Leach from the anti-choice group Army of God should cause local law enforcement officials to raise their local terrorist alert to red. The video is a recording of a recent jailhouse conversation with Scott Roeder, the convicted murderer of Dr. Tiller. What follows is a partial transcript of the video:

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Justice Served: Kansas Panel Recommends DA Phill Kline’s License to Practice Be Suspended Indefinitely

11:47 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Kari Ann Rinker for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

This article was updated at 12:29 pm on Friday, October 14th, 2011 to correct the facts: a Kansas disciplinary panel has recommended Kline’s license for suspension. The Kansas Supreme Court makes the final decision on this matter.

Phill Kline’s license to practice law within the state of Kansas has been recommended for indefinite suspension by a Kansas disciplinary panel.  They found Kline’s behavior to be “dishonest and selfish”.  I call it downright despicable. 

Speaking on behalf of Kansas pro-choice women, I say THANK YOU SWEET BABY JESUS!  I have high hopes for the Kansas Supreme Court.     

Phill Kline has been the large, annoying, festering thorn in the side of Kansas women since 2003, when he was elected as Kansas Attorney General.  He made his political career cheered on and funded by, his anti-abortion cronies.  Even today, he remains their hero.  I’m not just referring to the far right wingy-wing nut fringes.  I’m referring to politicians that are still in the statehouse today and jump at any opportunity to defend and in fact, exalt the praises of their “pro-life” poster boy.

March 10, 2011 Topeka Capitol Journal- Three dozen House and Senate Republicans stood shoulder-to-shoulder Thursday to lambaste the “unholy alliance” subverting justice in the ethics case against former Attorney General Phill Kline.  In a show of force outside the House floor, Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Bel Aire, and colleagues denounced the pending Kline case, the tolerance of child sexual abuse by some Kansas politicians and bias by the Kansas Supreme Court in favor of abortion providers. 

They still pine for the good ol’ days when women’s medical records were poured over by Kline, with the culminating moment being when they were discussed on the Bill O’Reilly show.  (Here Bill O., runs to Kline’s defense on this February edition of The Factor). Bill and Phill had this friendship, they commiserated together about “Tiller the Killer” (their deadly pet name for Dr. George Tiller) and discussed the private medical records of women who had sought abortion care at the medical clinic of the now murdered abortion Dr. George Tiller.

Phill Kline used his office to propel and enable his personal rabid hatred for the physician that was ultimately murdered by someone so upset by Kline’s inability to put Dr. Tiller out of business for good, that he took matters into his own hands.  Phill Kline was a hero not only to his pals in the Kansas legislature, but to the murderer Scott Roeder.

The board found that Kline “repeatedly violated many of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct, including the most serious of the rules, the rules that prohibit engaging in false or dishonest conduct…Further, (Kline) caused potential injury to the public.” But Phill attempts to set the record straight for us in his personally released statement to the public…

“I upheld my duty, upheld my oath of office and the integrity of my profession. 

The panel did what they were instructed to do.  This is the latest chapter of a Sebelius appointed court covering up for a Sebelius political benefactor in order to protect the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars.  The Sebelius court joined Planned Parenthood to file this complaint, appointed the prosecutor, appointed the panel and will make the final decision. Our Constitution was created to end such conduct. The ethics process is being used to punish political opponents.”

While Kline laments the ruling, the women of Kansas rejoice!  This chapter of the seemingly never-ending saga of Phil Kline will shortly be put to rest.  Mr. Kline can stay put at his job teaching all of  the far right wingy-wing nuts that inhabit the Liberty University School of Law, founded by Jerry Falwell where he teaches some version of higher learning hatred for women and hopefully, never grace the state of Kansas again.  We have enough to deal with these days as it is without his black cloud adding to our anti-woman storm that already exists under Governor Brownback’s regime.  Don’t let the door hit you in the kiester on the way out Mr. Kline, cause you won’t be able to seek damages in a Kansas court anytime soon.

Working with Dr. Tiller: His Staff Recalls a Tradition of Compassionate Care at Women’s Health Care Services of Wichita

12:54 pm in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

"Compassion."

"Compassion." by matrianklw on flickr

Written by Carole Joffe for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

This article is cross-posted with permission from the forthcoming issue (September 2011) of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.  We are grateful to the Guttmacher Institute for facilitating this exchange.

While attending Sunday church services in May 2009, Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Wichita, Kansas, was assassinated by an antiabortion extremist. The doctor’s murder led shortly to the closing of his clinic, Women’s Health Care Services (WHCS), which had been the best known of the handful of U.S. facilities to openly provide abortions at 24 weeks of gestation or later for women with serious health conditions and those carrying fetuses with severe or lethal anomalies. One of the most polarizing symbols of the U.S. abortion conflict, Dr. Tiller was reviled by abortion opponents. Among abortion rights supporters, and especially among his colleagues in the close-knit abortion provider community, Dr. Tiller was a beloved hero, legendary for the kindness and compassion he extended to desperate women who came to him from all over the United States and abroad.

Dr. Tiller’s murder and the closing of his clinic brought renewed national attention to the problems facing women who need abortions late in pregnancy. Fewer than 2 percent of the 1.2 million abortions performed each year in the United States occur after 20 weeks of gestation.[1] An unknown number occur after 24 weeks; in most states, such procedures are permitted only under highly restricted circumstances. At the time of Dr. Tiller’s death, only two or three other clinics were known to openly provide third-trimester procedures for qualifying women. Some hospitals provide these services on a case-by-case basis for patients of attending physicians, but the fact that WHCS served women from all over the country indicates that many women had difficulty finding the care they needed close to home. Read the rest of this entry →

Giving Thanks to Providers of Abortion Care

8:29 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Julie Burkhart for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Today, we give thanks to the women and men across America and around the world who courageously provide reproductive health care. In light of the stigma, marginalization and demonization that abortion care providers face in their professional and personal lives, it is incumbent upon us as advocates for women’s rights to reflect on the positive impact that their services bring to individual lives and society as a whole.

Having worked in reproductive health care and rights for many years, it deeply saddens me to see that we’ve come to a point at which these doctors are under greater scrutiny than ever. Thirty eight years after Roe v. Wade, providers are now instructed by legislatures on how to practice medicine, structure their clinics, and verbally counsel their patients. They are threatened with legal repercussions as well as vigilante action from extremists if they do not comply with these extreme invasions of privacy. 

Truth be told, legislatures can pass all the laws they want, and they can try to take advantage of loopholes, ultimately taking advantage of the women whose lives are directly affected by these abuses of power. But there is one thing that is unequivocally true: abortion providers save women’s lives and women will always need their care — plain and simple.

From the women who have first trimester abortions because they’re not prepared to be a parent to the women who seek care for fetal abnormalities or maternal health problems, these providers are making a difference in the lives of women and their families – or their hopes for future motherhood and a family. … Read more

Irrational Anger vs. Courage: Tiller Documentary Showed Faces of “Culture Wars”

9:30 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Sarah Seltzer for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

Rachel Maddow’s documentary, “The Assassination of Dr. Tiller,” was a very rare hour of prime-time coverage which was sympathetic to the pro-choice position in “the culture wars.” It accomplished this by attempting to clearly show how extremists on the anti-choice fringe choose to make those culture wars, as Maddow herself put it, into an actual war by turning their rhetoric into violence–or more perniciously by allowing more deranged members of their movement to do their violence for them.

In some ways the documentary was a letdown for an eager women’s activist community which wanted new information and new revelations. But in the end, it served a different purpose. As Jodi wrote earlier this week, “The Assassination of Dr. Tiller” wasn’t a film whose goal was to further edify us stalwarts of the pro-choice side who have immersed ourselves in this story for months, reading every news report and watching all the footage. Instead it was aimed at a broader, liberal-leaning audience, familiar with the basic structure of the horrible story of Dr. Tiller’s murder but maybe not with some of its more poignant and infuriating details.

These viewers might have been struck by Scott Roeder’s “revelation” while watching the 700 Club which turned him from a layabout to a fanatic. They might have felt overwhelmed by the relentless barrage of protest aimed at Dr. Tiller’s Kansas clinic, including repeated legal challenges that never held water in court; crazed, frenzied protests outside the door of the clinic; and most alarmingly, personally targeted messages aimed at making hardworking, dedicated clinic staffers into pariahs in their community. All of this information helps illuminate the fact that Dr. Tiller wasn’t just killed by a man, but by a movement which instilled that man with an evil purpose.

The medium of film–as opposed to writing or even news reporting– was most useful in vividly illustrating the anti-choice movement’s vicious modus operandi . This was quite a contrast with the fortitude and conviction and ultimately the pain of its health-care providing opponents. These two poles were seen on the faces of those interviewed by Maddow and her team, or caught on camera. Perhaps the most foreboding of these pieces of footage was the image of a distraught Roeder sitting in the back of a courtroom when Tiller was acquitted of trumped-up charges.

When told through pictures and videos, so much we already knew was illustrated again so powerfully. There was the fortitude on the faces of Dr. Tiller and his staff, who over the years looked into the cameras without apology, defending their work. Read more

Not a Moment to Lose: We Must Protect Abortion Providers’ Rights

6:44 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Dr. Suzanne Poppema for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

When Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health was founded in 1992, it was a dangerous time for abortion providers. Several of my colleagues had been shot by anti-choice extremists, some murdered, and many clinics were bombed or blockaded by protestors. I wore a bulletproof vest to work at my abortion clinic outside Seattle. It sometimes felt like providers were an endangered species.

Physical violence ebbed over the next decade, but that proved to be a temporary lull. In the past few years, I’ve seen one colleague’s clinic destroyed by arson, while my friend George Tiller was murdered last spring. It isn’t just violence that affects abortion providers today, though—we are also the targets of pointless state laws that limit women’s access to health care. The number of anti-abortion laws this year—about 370—may be a record high.

After LeRoy Carhart declared his intention to continue Dr. Tiller’s work and provide later abortions to women who need them, the state of Nebraska passed a law banning abortions after 20 weeks. Their ostensible reason—that the fetus can feel pain at that point—contradicts the best scientific evidence about fetal development. The real goal of this law was clear from the beginning: to make it impossible for Dr. Carhart to offer women abortions later in pregnancy.

Nebraska wasn’t the only state this spring to target abortion providers and the women they serve. Oklahoma stood out with a series of bills aimed at making abortion more difficult, including a mandatory ultrasound and a lengthy questionnaire doctors must complete before a woman can have an abortion. Meanwhile, Arizona, Mississippi, and Tennessee have blocked women from buying insurance policies that cover abortion, and more states are considering similar bans.

In light of the many restrictions and fears abortion providers must live with every day, Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health has introduced an Abortion Provider’s Declaration of Rights. The aim of the declaration is simple: to state that abortion providers deserve the same treatment and protections that other physicians enjoy as a matter of course.

Among the rights spelled out in the declaration are: the right to practice medicine free from fears of violence, harassment, and intimidation; the right to give patients complete, medically accurate information about the procedure; and the right to continue their training and conduct research on abortion methods. All are basic rights taken for granted in any other field of medicine, but denied to abortion providers.

While a part of me is discouraged that we need to enumerate these rights, I also know that there is strength in numbers. Among the first signers of the petition were Jeanne Tiller, Dr. Tiller’s wife; his daughter, Rebecca Tiller-Bunting; Dr. Carhart; and other prominent abortion providers. More than 800 people have signed the petition to date, and I urge you to add your name. Together, we can show the extremists and anti-choice politicians that there is a strong community committed to protecting abortion providers and the women they serve.

Dr. Tiller’s Crucifixion and Resurrection

6:44 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Trusting Women for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

I am drinking my morning coffee. Shortly, I will head to morning service at the Unitarian Church.  I wonder what Dr. Tiller’s Sunday morning was like, that Sunday one year ago when he was gunned down in his church.

A couple months ago, I had honor of addressing a group of abortion providers. The topic was "Resurrecting Our Moral Center."  I do not think it was coincidental that less than a year after Tiller’s murder, we were talking about resurrection. God, how much we miss him.

In that talk, I said that I did not think that the abortion providing community’s moral center needed to be resurrected. It had never died. I knew it had not died because if it had, the providers who have continued to serve women, the providers who have increased their gestational limits to take the patients St. George would have served, would not have done and continued to do what they do: provide women abortions and, in particular, provide later-term abortions.

After I gave that talk, I was discussing this idea of resurrection with a leading feminist theologian with whom I have been blessed to study. I told her how sad I was that this community of people so clearly grounded in a profound ethic of love and compassion felt that their "moral center" had died, so sad that they could not articulate what I see so vividly: a beaming moral and spiritual core that radiates through the community’s service to women.

And then she said to me "but there WAS a crucifixion. Because crucifixion is about the State executing an individual who is too powerful, too destabilizing to the oppressive status quo. If there was a crucifixion, then the community does need a resurrection. The community needs to remember that all that Dr. Tiller was, all he did, DID NOT die in his assassination."

For many of us, particularly those involved in medicine and science, religious (particularly Christian) terms like resurrection, crucifixion, and God make us queasy and for good reason, reasons I will not rehash here. But the fact of the matter was they did not make Tiller queasy. George Tiller had faith.

Dr. Tiller also had a God box.  As I understand it, when there was an issue he could not figure out, he would right it down and put it in The God Box.  "A man has got to know his limitations" repeated Tiller.  God is a tricky term/concept, but in my most cynical moments, that "thing" to which the word "God" points helps me to check my hubristic tendencies, to check the ego-inflating, savior-striving habits to which many of us liberal professionals too easily succumb. Another Tillerism: "Ego trips are expensive."

Tiller was able to do what many of us liberals have not: harness profound spiritual and religious power, providing abortions later than almost all of his colleagues.  I find it difficult to believe that his deep grounding in a spiritual/religious tradition was unconnected to the radically compassionate nature of his work.

"There may be a conflict between softminded religionists and toughminded scientists, but not between science and religion. Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives humans knowledge which is power; religion gives humans wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary. Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism."

-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

George Tiller was murdered in his church, in his (liberal) religious community. He called his work a reproductive ministry. And while terrorists tragically ended his life, they did not end the work to which he (and all those working at Women’s Health Care Services) dedicated their life.  Tiller finds good company among the ancient prophets who spoke truth to power, who kept on keeping-on with the faith that one day justice shall "roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream."

Our moral center never died. And, with each abortion delivered in compassion and care, George Tiller, Barnett Slepian, Shannon Lowey, Leanne Nichols, John Britton, and David Gunn are resurrected.

In Memory of Dr. Tiller: Reflections on the Death of An American Hero One Year Later

6:27 am in Uncategorized by RH Reality Check

Written by Julie Burkhart for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.

This post draws from entries made in the author’s personal journal.

Over the past year, RH Reality Check has extensively covered the murder of Dr. George Tiller, the ensuing trial of Scott Roeder, and related issues. You will find a compilation of those posts here.

31 May 2009; En Route from Washington, DC to Wichita, KS

Today began as a clear crisp sunny day in Washington, D.C. I was at a conference for a national advocacy organization. I found out at 12:30 pm that my recent boss, mentor and father-like figure had been murdered —gunned down at 10:15 am in the lobby of his church – Reformation Lutheran Church while waiting to return to where his wife was singing, as a member of the choir.

This is a devastating day in American history.

I guess we were too successful – I could feel it in the months just before his assassination. The anti-choice, domestic terrorists couldn’t stand that the laws in this land gave him the right to practice medicine. They couldn’t stand that juror after juror wouldn’t kowtow to their beliefs and prosecute him and shut him down. They couldn’t stand that we defeated elected officials at the polls and could win races against their antiquated philosophies. They couldn’t stand it – so they murdered him in cold blood in the church where he worshiped his God.

Those forces of hate, bigotry and rigid ideology are just like the forces of the Taliban that so many Americans rail against, which are merely separated by culture and geography. These are the same people who say that “All life is sacred.”  This statement should be amended to say – “All life is sacred if and only if you prescribe to a certain ideology that defines our existence in very narrow terms. Then, life is sacred.”

Dr. George Tiller was a fine and wonderful man. He taught me a lot in the years that I worked with him. He was tough, a teacher and a remarkable leader. He taught me much about life and how to approach problems in a positive manner. He taught me to make lemonade out of lemons. He taught me how to find solutions to problems, how to make the best of any situation, to find the silver lining.

He didn’t sit around and wait for life to lead him around. He followed his passion and his dreams; he created his own reality. He did what he was led to do and that which he loved.

It’s interesting the path that we can find ourselves on in life and where those paths can lead. I never intended to end up, for a longer term, in the women’s rights movement. It’s amazing where life forces help us end up if we listen to them.

I’ve heard this story so many times from him – Dr. Tiller was in the Navy – a doc – and was going to do a dermatology residency. Members of his family, including his parents, were in traveling in a small aircraft when it crashed. He came back to Kansas to close his late father’s medical practice and then get on with his dermatology residency. He never made it – instead, he fell in love with the family practice, which then predominately grew into a predominately reproductive health care practice over the years. What he found out, was that his dad performed abortions for his patients. I think this fact, this notion, sparked what became his life’s mission.

Going back to life’s direction and mission. Maybe that was his life goal. If we believe in a God, which I do in a way that is derived from the energy of the world – an energy both good and bad – then the energy of the universe – God – led his life in that direction. He was born to, led to be an icon in the women’s rights movement. That was the purpose for him. He was built just for that – to provide reproductive health care services to women – he did that well, above and beyond the call – he practiced medicine in a loving, compassionate, tender, nonjudgmental manner.

He understood that women had to be able to welcome, each child into their family unit. It’s called understanding the “heart” of a woman. No one can understand abortion until one understands the heart of a woman. That is exactly why abortion will always be around for myriad reasons – women cannot always welcome an addition into their families. They make choices based on the current dynamic and what is right for that family.

This is exactly why the antis can NEVER win this battle. Women are intelligent enough to make the right choices for themselves AND they will continue to make these choices – with or without bloodshed. They could murder all the providers and women will continue to seek abortions – regardless.

This is why the killing of such a great man is so senseless – one of the many reasons – he did not control the decision-making of women. Abortions will still take place – it’s not Dr. Tiller acting as puppeteer of all these women – its women saying to him – I need this to happen.

I’ve been fielding numerous phone calls today from friends, family, colleagues and the media. F*$# the press – I swear – story hasn’t even been out for a couple of hours and they’re calling me – as if it’s not a personal loss – as if his death is of no consequence.

It angers me because they’ll go talk to “the other side” and get the “we don’t approve of that” speech, but they won’t do anything to condemn it. They just perpetuate the dynamic. If they would stop treating them like they’re legitimate. They aren’t legitimate – they’re the devil, they’re murderers, they lie and say anything to get their way. It’s said in the Good Book that the devil will come in sheep’s clothing. I believe, with all my heart that these people are the devil. It is evil that gathers energy from that source.

I never would have thought in a million years that I would have worked with him. This opportunity came up and I seized it. It was a wonderful decision. I’ve never regretted my work with him, it was a wonderful ride. We needed to do a job and we did it. We didn’t have any bad legislation pass, we didn’t let them win the court cases; we didn’t let them always win at the polls – at least in the big ones. They couldn’t f@#%!*& take it that they were losing – then, of course, Obama’s election and then he announces Sotomayor as an appointee to SCOTUS. They had to be very angry. Nothing was going their way. The country was going to hell. The wrath of God was eminent. It was the ultimate act of self-righteousness; to think you have some divine calling to take another’s life.

One year later: 21 May 2010; St. Louis, MO

Dr. Tiller’s death has left the pro-woman community devastated and struggling to come to terms with his assassination. A vast hole was left in provider care after his murder. Additional physicians across the country have been stepping up, in an attempt to fill the gap that was left by his death. The pro-choice community has been struggling to determine how to best fend off anti-choice tactics meant to shut providers down and deny women access.

It has become apparent that the anti-choice have become emboldened by Dr. Tiller’s murder; which was also driven by vehement opposition to health care reform at the national level. The anti’s have moved swiftly in places such as Kansas and Nebraska to limit abortion care in those states. Anti-choice leaders have taken Dr. Tiller’s assassination, and the fact that other physicians would be stepping in to provide care, as an opportunity for passing more restrictive legislation and redefining our abortion laws in the states, with the intent of having a national impact.

The climate in state legislatures was frustrating, to put it mildly. Both Kansas and Nebraska tirelessly worked to ban late termination of pregnancy, Oklahoma cranked out a plethora of punitive anti-choice bills and Utah sought to criminalize certain actions of pregnant women – these bills only scratch the surface of restrictive legislation proposed across the country.

One thing has become clear over the past year, the pro-choice community has to reevaluate the way in which we approach activism across the country, especially states that are all too often written off as “red” states or “fly over” states,” when in fact, these are the areas of the country that need the pro-woman movement the most. We cannot abandon the women in any state, nor in any corner of this country if we’re going to have equal rights for ALL women in this great nation.

The time has come for us, as a movement, in our own collective ways, whether it’s through education or activism or political engagement, to meet the anti-woman forces on their “own” turf. We must not cede any section of this country.

As I write this, I’m reminded of a sign that Dr. Tiller put up against a truck in his clinic driveway the day after he was shot in 1993. The sign simply said, “Hell no, we won’t go.” That was his motto then and we need to make it our motto now.

Another saying of Dr. Tiller’s, that I’ve meditated on numerous times since his assassination is this, “The only requirement for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” This is why, in the darkest, bleakest hours, we must continue moving forward, one step at a time, one woman at a time, until we achieve equality for all people of this land.

We love you Dr. Tiller and thank you for being a leader and a beacon of light.