Remember

Dr. George Tiller*

Dr. George Tiller*

This day four years ago Dr. George Tiller was murdered. He was murdered by an anti-abortion protester on May 31, 2009. He was murdered while ushering at church services on a Sunday morning.

Today we should remember his bravery and commitment for years to help women, even at great risk to himself. Today we should honor his life while mourning his loss. Today we should remember to “Trust Women.”

Trust Women

————————————————————————–

*The photo of Dr. Tiller is included in a statement from Merle Hoffman, On The Issues Magazine, Spring 2009 edition. Please take a minute to read it.

————————————————————————-

If you are interested in reading more about Dr. Tiller’s story, I highly recommend  ”The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion” by Stephen Singular, published by St. Martin’s Press, First Edition edition (April 12, 2011) It is available for purchase at bookstores and Amazon.com.

Honoring Dr. Tiller ~ by fml and Servalbear

Abortion Gang and The Provider Project have a blog project in progress to honor Dr. George Tiller. They have asked contributors to their collective blog to respond to this question:

How can the pro-choice and reproductive justice movements better support the people who have later abortions and providers who perform them?

Here’s the short answer ~ the correct answer:

Make Your Voice Heard by Speaking Up.

  1. Voice your support to access abortion at any time for any reason. We don’t know what a family is facing with a pregnancy and shouldn’t guess. They will make the decision that is best for them.
  2. When you hear a misrepresentation about common reasons for later abortion, counter with the correct information.
  3. Write about the facts of later abortion in a public forum.
  4. Be prepared to answer questions from clients with facts.

Vote

  1. Vote for pro-access candidates in every election.
  2. Be familiar with the law in your state and who has voted for bills restricting abortion access.

Thank Later Abortion Providers.

  1. Donations to help with anti-abortion protest-related expenses
  2. Donations to national or local abortion fund organizations, such as National Abortion Federation, to help patients needing more expensive later abortions.
  3. Volunteer to escort at the clinic of a later abortion provider.
  4. Write a letter to the provider to express your gratitude they are there

Servalbear wrote that ~ in fact, she asked me {fml} to collaborate on this one and then ended up writing the whole article without any input from me until now ~ 10:00 Friday night before we post.  

Confession ~ I’ve been avoiding doing it.  I don’t want to write about later abortions.  I have some ambivalence here.  Some emotional discomfort.  

I think I shouldn’t feel that way.  I think I’m wrong to feel that way.

But it is was as if the stigma had stained my perceptions here.  I vaguely imagined the things that antis say might be true about late term abortions.  

However.  Ten o’clock Friday night, I really can’t put it off any longer.  So I read Servalbear’s information, the facts she presents.  

What is a later abortion? Quite simply, it is an abortion performed after the 20th week of pregnancy. This is incorrectly called a “partial-birth abortion.”

NPR explains in an article from 2006.

  • But “partial-birth” is not a medical term. It’s a political one, and a highly confusing one at that, with both sides disagreeing even on how many procedures take place, at what point in pregnancy, and exactly which procedures the law actually bans.  …
  • The term was first coined by the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) in 1995 to describe a recently introduced medical procedure to remove fetuses from the womb. 
  • In 1995, Rep. Charles Canady (R-FL) included the term as part of a bill he proposed that would make it a federal crime to perform a “partial-birth” abortion.

How common are later abortions? According to the Guttmacher Institute, later abortions are not common at all. 88% of all abortions performed in the US occur within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Only 1.5% of all abortions in the US occur at 21 weeks or more. That’s a very small percentage.

Where can a client access a later abortion? The short answer is only in a few places. Many states have passed legislation to ban abortion past 20 weeks.

 Guttmacher Institute states, “Only 11% of all abortion providers offer abortions at 24 weeks.”

Why would clients choose a later abortion?

There are a variety of reasons, but the most common is due to life-threatening conditions for the woman or the fetus. Many fetal anomalies are not identified until an ultrasound is performed at 21-23 weeks. There isn’t much time between the time of these tests to accurately diagnose problems that will take the fetus’ life before, or within minutes, of birth and the 24 weeks most states restrict for later abortions.

The myths about why clients would choose a later abortion almost always translate to the client being in denial of the pregnancy or being irresponsible and delaying too long. This isn’t the typical case. Later abortions are usually a wanted pregnancy that turns to anguish.

Orlando Women’s Center publishes this statement on their website which spells out the difficulty of these decisions.

  • Patients end pregnancies early for several reasons:
  1. Prevent pain and suffering of a sick, unborn baby
  2. Stop the pain and suffering for family members, friends and you
  3. To bring closure and start the healing process (guilt, depression, anger, and acceptance) required for members of your family and you to go through
  • We recognize the grief, sorrow, and suffering that this health care has caused you and your family. Most families or individuals have never faced a catastrophe of this magnitude.
  • At our Women’s Centers, numerous patients and loved ones we see are confronted with these complex issues where they were prepared to have a healthy child and suddenly they are faced with the prospect of terminating the pregnancy.
  • There are people who believe that fetal abnormalities are part of life and God’s plan even if lethal to the fetus. They feel that some way and somehow couples are to accept the process of bringing a child into the world and carry the Psychological and perhaps physical scars forever of having a baby with severe abnormalities that are incompatible with life. Dr. Pendergraft, other Physicians, and the medical staff who work in the Women’s Centers believe the decision to carry a pregnancy to term with severe complications is a personal matter and should be a decision that is made between the patient and her Physician. 

As I read the facts, the myths in my mind fade away.  Instead, I think about my grandmother.  My grandmother had experienced a stillbirth.  

Many years later, she told my mother, “I knew the baby was dead.  I could tell it quit moving.  Your father (my grandfather) was so upset and angry, he blamed the doctors.  But I knew long before that.”

After reading Servalbear’s facts, I thought about the times that a fetus will die in utero and not be expelled right away.  I think of the anguish of carrying a child one knows is dead.  And the stigma fades away too.

Why do later abortion providers need our support? These physicians are dedicated to providing the health care patients need. The level of commitment includes working with daily threats of violence and even death. Why wouldn’t we support them?

Jody Jacobsen wrote an article published June 2, 2009 in Reality Check, titled “Late-Term Abortions: Facts, Stories and Ways to Help.”

  • Dr. Tiller was one of the few doctors providing late-term abortions to people in need in part because he was a committed, ethical, moral medical professional who took seriously his oath to serve the best interests of his patients, and because he was dedicated to supporting women’s rights even at the risk of his own life and even under unimaginable daily pressure and threat.

Another later abortion provider is Dr. LeRoy Carhart. He has continued providing later abortions despite enormous obstacles placed in his way by anti-choice legislation and protesters.

This is from an article written by Lena H. Sun published July 24, 2011, in the Washington Post

  • As one of the few doctors in the nation who openly acknowledge performing abortions late in a pregnancy, and because he wants to expand his services, Carhart is the top focus of antiabortion groups. He took on that role after Kansas doctor George Tiller, his friend and mentor, was fatally shot by an abortion opponent in 2009.

Which brings us back to the original question:

How can the pro-choice and reproductive justice movements better support the people who have later abortions and providers who perform them?

~  Make Your Voice Heard by Speaking Up.

~  Vote

~  Thank Later Abortion Providers

What other ways can you think of that would be helpful?

————————————————————————————————-

Additional references:
State Policies on Later Abortions, Guttmacher Institute.
Bans on “Partial-Birth” Abortion, Guttmacher Institute

Remembering Dr. George Tiller

Violence surrounding reproductive health services, especially abortion, is on my mind this week. There were two arsons at two different clinics in Georgia last week. There was another arson in New Orleans at Women With a Vision.

The National Abortion Federation has  a breakdown of the history of violence surrounding abortion and abortion providers.  It has not been updated to include the Florida arson in January nor the ones this past week, but it is a reminder to all of us the potential for violence at abortion clinics is always present.

Dr. George Tiller was murdered by an anti-abortion protester on May 31, 2009. Dr. Tiller was 67 years old when he was murdered. He could have retired, but he worked tirelessly for women’s reproductive choices. He faced years of death threats, protesters interfering with his work and even harassment by Phill Kline, the Attorney General of Kansas.

Imagine the commitment to go to work every day with the threat of violence. Would you want to go back for almost 15 years after you were shot five times because you were an abortion provider? Would you post a sign at your clinic after it was firebombed, saying “Hell no, we won’t go”? Dr. Tiller’s commitment to women was summed up in his motto: “Trust Women.”

I remember where I was when I heard the news of his murder. My shock at the news was spent in endless hours watching news coverage and reading articles. It also awakened in me a need to translate my commitment to abortion access for everyone, for any reason, into action. I know I do not have a tiny fraction of the courage Dr. Tiller had, but I had to honor his memory by continuing to speak out in support of women and their choices.

It is hard to believe it has been three years since Dr.Tiller’s murder. It is hard to believe the legislative landscape for abortion and even birth control is worse than three years ago.

Please hold Dr. George Tiller and his work in your thoughts tomorrow. Wear your “Trust Women” buttons and t-shirts proudly in honor of his commitment.

—————————————————————————

If you are interested in reading more about Dr. Tiller’s story, I highly recommend  “The Wichita Divide: The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle over Abortion” by Stephen Singular, published by St. Martin’s Press, First Edition edition (April 12, 2011) It is available for purchase at bookstores and Amazon.com.

Trust

Abortion is not a dirty word. Escorts emphasize this all of the time when talking about the clinic. The reason we need to keep repeating it is because there are so many ways abortion is stigmatized.
.
Clients are exposed to the myths about abortion daily. These myths are repeated in the pulpit, the nightly news, TV shows, movies, books, magazines and blog articles.
.
These myths range from  judgments about who does or doesn’t have an abortion. Along with these myths of who and why people get abortions are inaccurate statements about health risks of abortion, including risks of breast cancer, future sterility, post-abortion syndrome and medical risks of the procedures in an abortion.
.
The truth is not always easy to find in the flurry of myths. You have to be determined in your research to find out one out of three women will have an abortion by the age of 45, that 61% of women having abortions are already mothers, and it is one of the safest medical procedures in the US today.
.
Most clients have researched the issues and weighed their decision according to their life situation. Many have discussed their decision with friends and family members. These clients have weighed their choices and have chosen abortion.
.
We see supportive companions walking with clients through the gauntlet of antis. These clients have decided to trust their own judgment about what is best for them. The companions have decided to trust the client.
.
We constantly hear comments from clients and companions about antis, ‘Don’t they realize I have thought about this before coming here?’ ‘They don’t know me. They don’t understand why I need this abortion.’ The clients aren’t trusting what a stranger screams at them from the sidewalk. They have already done their research. The yelling doesn’t make them waver in their decision.
.
Trust Women is the slogan of many reproductive rights activists. It is in honor of Dr. George Tiller. He was murdered May 31, 2009 because he was a doctor who performed abortions. Dr. Tiller wore a button with those words on it. Trust Women is a powerful statement. Trust women to make the reproductive choices right for them. Trust women to make decisions for their families. Trust Women. Period.
.
Escorts respectfully approach clients and trust them to make their own decisions.

—–

Bloggers United for Human Rights is a community of bloggers dedicated to the principle that all human rights are inalienable. Not to be voted, or debated, or negotiated. Blog with us on 2/15 to support Women’s Reproductive Rights.

—–

REMINDER: The next escort training is February 25,  9:00A to 10:00A.

.

Registration will start at 8:30A. The subject of the training is Legal Discussions.  If you want more information about the training you can email us at:  everysaturdaymorning@gmail.com

.