SOURCE: AP/Larry Smith
Dr. George Tiller in 2002.
Today we mourn the loss of Dr. George Tiller, a great progressive who was gunned down at his church Sunday morning. Although his chosen profession of providing mid- and late-term abortions was one some found distasteful, he remained committed to his calling to serve women in their greatest hour of need.
In order to simply go to work every day and do what he felt to be right, he endured constant harassment and threats, a series of lawsuits intended to bankrupt him and put him in jail, laws meant to put him out of business, boycotts of companies that dared to deal with him, and physical assault. After being shot in each arm during a prior assasination attempt, he returned to work and refused to be cowed by domestic terrorists who threatened to kill in the name of protecting life.
We mourn for his family, his friends, his colleagues, and his patients. We mourn too for Americans who oppose legal abortion, yet abhor violence and condemn such detestable acts done in their name. And we mourn for our country, whose fabric is shred each time intolerance and hate win out over respect and love.
We call on President Barack Obama to reinvigorate the National Task Force on Violence Against Health Providers and to do everything possible to ensure that reproductive health care professionals can do their jobs without fear of harassment or violence. We ask for a recommitment to peaceful and respectful dialogue by those with opposing views on abortion rights. And we pray for an end to these divisive and painful culture wars and hope the healing can begin.
Jessica Arons is the Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at American Progress.