Tiller has spent years fighting to keep his clinic open and to keep offering such important services. He was acquitted in March on criminal charges of not consulting an independent doctor for a second opinion (required by law). His office has been the subject of numerous anti-abortion protests, it was bombed in 1985, and in 1993, he was shot outside his office. Earlier this month his office was vandalized. One can only imagine what he, his family and his staff deals with on a daily basis.
I get that what he does is controversial (though I highly recommend you visit the clinic's Web site, linked above, and read it -- you might be surprised). But it is vital to have doctors across the country who do offer such services, and we are now minus one.
Police haven't said yet if they have a suspect or anyone in custody, and I'm not going to jump to conclusions until that information is released. I am hoping against hope this isn't a case of another abortion doctor murdered for his profession. Not that his murder would be "okay" otherwise, but if it does come out that an anti-abortion figure did kill Tiller, well, I think it becomes even more obvious that most of the fanatical anti-abortion people out there don't actually give a shit about "life," only about controlling women's uteruses.
I would hope most people, whatever their opinion on this doctor's job, have the decency to express sympathy over this loss, and not exalt the murder as some kind of victory.
UPDATE: So much for my last statement. Take a look at some of the comments posted on Free Republic, via Daily Kos.
- Good column here from the Kansas City Star.
- Feministing weighs in, with suggestions on where to donate money.
- Here is the link to donate to Planned Parenthood in honor of someone.
- The comments posted here can only be described as fucking disgusting.
UPDATE II: A suspect has been arrested, but no details of who it is yet.
UPDATE III: Tiller's family has issued a statement, which I'm posting in full:
Dan Monnat and Lee Thompson, Dr. George Tiller's attorneys, issued the following statement today at the request of Mrs. Jeanne Tiller, the Tiller's four children and ten grandchildren:
"Today we mourn the loss of our husband, father and grandfather. Today's event is an unspeakable tragedy for all of us and for George's friends and patients. This is particularly heart wrenching because George was shot down in his house of worship, a place of peace.
We would like to express the family's thanks for the many messages of sympathy from our friends and from all across the nation. We also want to thank the law enforcement officers who are investigating this crime.
Our loss is also a loss for the City of Wichita and women across America. George dedicated his life to providing women with high-quality heath care despite frequent threats and violence. We ask that he be remembered as a good husband, father and grandfather and a dedicated servant on behalf of the rights of women everywhere."
And yet I have seen numerous people flat-out saying "I'm happy he's dead." Women are saying it. What does it take to get these women to understand the importance of this issue? You do not have to support abortion to understand that if the choice is taken away from you, you will not have control over your own body.
Also, from the NYT's story, finally a statement from a major group defending Tiller:
“Dr. Tiller was a fearless, passionate defender of women’s reproductive health and rights,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, based in New York, which had worked on a legal case related to Dr. Tiller. “It’s time that this nation stop demonizing these doctors, and start honoring them.”
UPDATE IV: Just in, from the "you've got to be fucking kidding me" category: "Abortion foes fear backlash to Tiller's slaying."
NEW YORK (AP) — Anti-abortion leaders are deeply worried that the Obama administration and other Democrats may try to capitalize on the slaying of Dr. George Tiller to defuse the abortion issue in upcoming Supreme Court confirmation hearings.Full story here.
- Carnal Nation has rounded up a "Tweets of Hate" list that is worth checking out, because seeing is believing. Example: "oh HAPPY DAY! Tiller the baby killer is DEAD!"
UPDATE V: President Obama has issued a statement:
I am shocked and outraged by the murder of Dr. George Tiller as he attended church services this morning. However profound our differences as Americans over difficult issues such as abortion, they cannot be resolved by heinous acts of violence.
UPDATE VI: Last of the night, I hope.
First, a suspect has been named. According to AP: "Johnson County sheriff's spokesman Tom Erickson identified the detained man as Scott Roeder. He has not been charged in the slaying and was expected to be taken to Wichita for questioning. Court records and Internet postings show that someone using the name Scott Roeder has a criminal past and has expressed anti-abortion opinions on sympathetic Web sites."
Is anyone surprised?
Second, Planned Parenthood has issued a statement.
Third, the more I read about Tiller, the sadder this story becomes. RIP, and thanks for all you did to help your patients.
UPDATE VII: TPM reports that U.S. Marshals will offer protection to other people and facilities, in light of Tiller's murder.