Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Compassion for Dr. George Tiller, his Family, and Colleagues

Created by: Jillian

Many pro-choice advocates and supporters are struggling to express their grief over the loss of Dr. George Tiller. Over the past 24 hours, there has been a great deal of conversation surrounding this horrific killing and the impact that this death will have on the issue of abortion in America today.

I have been pleased to see that many people are expressing their disapproval of anti-abortion hate speech and the demonizing of abortion care providers. Because, although I completely understand that Dr. Tiller's murderer does not represent the entirety of the anti-choice movement, he does represent what can happen when we continue to allow this debate to be divisive and hateful.

I would love to hear your thoughts, concerns, and feelings surrounding Dr. George Tiller's death.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Dr. George Tiller Killed

Created by: Jillian

Yesterday morning, while serving as an usher at his Lutheran Church, Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed. Dr. Tiller was an abortion care provider in Wichita, Kansas who experienced multiple threats to himself, his family and his practice over his career. As an advocate who believes in and protects the rights of women to access safe and legal abortion, these threats against abortion providers impact a woman's access by terrifying practitioners thereby limiting the number of medical providers available for abortion services.

Sunday morning's violent act of murder against Dr. Tiller is not only traumatic for his family, friends and community, but is also infuriating to those of us who struggle to find common ground approaches to preventing unintended pregnancy when it appears that there will always be an extreme faction of "pro-lifers" who apparently believe that they have the right to judge whose life is worth saving.

Dr. George Tiller was called many things over the course of his life because he was willing to perform late-term abortion. Late-term abortion is one of the anti-choice movement's favorite topics surrounding abortion because they can distort it and make it appear as though pro-choicers support killing. So, here's a little information to clarify the truth of Dr. Tiller's work and a refresher on Roe v. Wade.

If anyone attempts to justify Dr. Tiller's death...take a deep breath, and cite the information below. It's completely normal to feel angry and outraged over someone who doesn't understand the hypocrisy of being "pro-life" and supporting violence against providers, but our anger will only fuel their belief that they are right. So take a moment to retort with the information below--know the facts.

Dr. George Tiller was a good man, performing medical procedures that were deemed necessary. He did not deserve a life of threats. He did not deserve to die.

Roe v. Wade Refresher:

Blackmun argued that as a woman approaches the final stages of her pregnancy, the state has an increasing responsibility to protect both the woman’s health and the life of the fetus. However, he wrote that in the first trimester (stage of pregnancy lasting about three months), the state has no compelling reason to interfere. At this stage a woman has an essentially unrestricted right to choose an abortion.

Blackmun then cited medical evidence suggesting that in the second trimester, an abortion posed a greater threat to a woman’s health than one performed in the first trimester. Based on this evidence, Blackmun wrote that during the second trimester the state could regulate abortion only to protect the health of a pregnant woman. For example, the state could establish certain legal qualifications for people who would be licensed to perform abortions, or the state could establish legal requirements for the facilities where abortions would be performed.

Finally, Blackmun cited medical evidence suggesting that in the third trimester the fetus is usually considered viable—that is, capable of meaningful life outside the womb. Blackmun argued that only at this final stage of pregnancy does the state have a strong enough responsibility to protect the life of the fetus to override the privacy concerns of the woman and to forbid an abortion. Even at this stage, however, a woman has a right to an abortion if the pregnancy threatens her life.

The Controversy Surrounding Dr. George Tiller:

Kansas law prohibits aborting viable fetuses, which is generally midway through the second trimester, unless two doctors certify that continuing the pregnancy would cause the woman "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function."

Tiller went on trial in March 2009, charged with nineteen misdemeanors for allegedly consulting a second physician in late-term abortion cases who was not truly "independent" as required by Kansas state law. The case became a cause célèbre for both supporters and opponents of abortion rights.

On March 27, 2009, Tiller was found not guilty of all 19 misdemeanor charges stemming from some abortions he performed at his Wichita clinic in 2003. Although acquitted of criminal charges, the state’s Board of Healing Arts continued to investigate ethical violations that mirrored the prosecutors' allegations.

Citations for Dr. Tiller information:

·[http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124379172024269869.html Abortion Provider Is Shot Dead;] George Tiller, Attacked at His Church, Had Long Been a Focal Point of Protests, By Stephanie Simon and Miguel Bustillo, Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2009
· Tiller Jury Selection, Kansas City Star, March 18.
· Jury set in trial of Wichita late-term abortionist, Kansas Liberty, March 18, 2009
· Why George Tiller is on trial in Wichita, World Net Daily, March 19, 2009
· Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2009
· "Kan. doctor acquitted in abortion case - Crime & courts- msnbc.com". http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29918417/. Retrieved on 2009-04-23.