Today marks the 2-year anniversary of Dr. George Tiller’s murder at the hands of an anti-abortion extremist. Dr. Tiller was a brave man who provided abortion care for women who desperately needed it, but couldn’t find it elsewhere. While the loss of Dr. Tiller remains devastating, it is heartwarming to see so many feminists paying tribute to his life and work today.
Unfortunately, today also serves as a stark reminder of the violence perpetrated by terrorists in the name of “pro-life” (the irony is never lost on me). According to NARAL,
Since 1993, eight clinic workers – including four doctors, two clinic employees, a clinic escort, and a security guard – have been murdered in the United States. Seventeen attempted murders have also occurred since 1991. In fact, opponents of choice have directed more than 6,100 reported acts of violence against abortion providers since 1977, including bombings, arsons, death threats, kidnappings, and assaults, as well as more than 156,000 reported acts of disruption, including bomb threats and harassing calls.
And this nonsense didn’t stop when Tiller died. Case in point: just last week, a man was arrested for plotting to kill clinic personnel at a Madison, Wisconsin Planned Parenthood.
Given the high level of violence and intimidation aimed at abortion providers and clinic staff, it is not surprising that the number of doctors who are trained, qualified and willing to provide abortion services is declining. Extremist anti-choice forces have succeeded in creating an atmosphere of fear that deters doctors from entering the field and others from providing services, thus further restricting women’s access to abortion. When coupled with other anti-choice efforts — including (but certainly not limited to) parental interference laws, mandatory waiting periods and counseling, the uneven geographic distribution of abortion-related services, and allowance of physician refusal — this paints a bleak picture for women seeking abortion care.
So here’s a virtual high-five and cheers to those doctors and clinic workers brave enough to stare down threats the size of Oklahoma City to help women and provide them with the medical care that is their right. I thank you.
Be sure to check out posts on Dr. Tiller’s work and life at Feministing, Feminists For Choice, PRCH, and RH Reality Check.
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