Honoring the Memory of Dr. Tiller
Dr. Tiller is an important figure for the pro-choice movement. His motto "Trust Women" has become a rallying cry for all of us who share his beliefs. And he refused to be intimidated by extreme anti-choice activists. Dr. Tiller was one of three doctors in the country that provided abortion service later in pregnancy, and that made him and his clinic the focus of anti-choice protests, harassment, and violence.
Ultimately, standing up for a woman's right to choose cost Dr. Tiller his life. He was murdered - in his church - by a radical anti-choice activist in 2009.
Since Dr. Tiller's death and the closure of his clinic in Wichita, women seeking access to abortion care in the area have been forced to drive more than 150 miles to visit an abortion clinic in Oklahoma City or Kansas City. That most certainly has made it more difficult and costly for many women to get the health care they need when they need it.
Thankfully in April, one of Dr. Tiller's former colleagues and director of the Trust Women Foundation, Julie Burkhart, re-opened Dr. Tiller's clinic, despite anti-choice efforts to keep the facility closed:
"First and foremost, we want to make sure that women who need to see us, want to come see us, are able to access care. We're looking at a few thousand women who now have to travel outside the area each year. Secondly, what it says is that no matter where you live in the United States of America, women will have access to reproductive health care."
Sadly, many abortion providers continue to live under constant threats of violence for providing necessary reproductive-health services.
Dr. Tiller gave his life to protect women from seeking unsafe abortion care, regardless of their circumstance. It's his courage that inspires so many of us to continue our work to protect and expand women's reproductive freedoms.