Sunday, June 7, 2009

In Memoriam, make a difference

This week's fund spotlight is made in awareness of the many, many women and girls who were able to recover their "hopes, dreams, potential, the rest of their lives" with the help of Dr. George Tiller, and the many who will need that same kind of help in the future. The fact that Dr. Tiller is gone from us, while heartbreaking and gutwrenching on so many levels, will not lead us to despair. We will redouble our efforts to serve women's health, and to serve each one of our clients with "kindness, courtesy, justice, love and respect".

Dr. Tiller's clinic often treated women who could not afford the high cost of their complex procedures, often with the help of national and local funds, but also often by waiving a significant portion of the fee. His was a compassionate practice that recognized the injustice -- and the medical trauma -- suffered when vital health care, though legal and available, is not accessible or affordable.

A coworker of mine once helped a young girl and her mother raise enough money to travel some 1,500 miles to get to Women's Health Care Services. By the time they arrived in Wichita, paid for their hotel room, and paid the "second consulting doctor" as required by Kansas law, almost all of their money was gone. I will never forget that a religious pro-choice organization found someone to donate airline miles to get them to Kansas, that the mother waited by the phone all day to find out if her small loan application had been approved, that my coworker waited by the phone all evening to find out if her funding requests would succeed, that national funds and local funds in the girl's area contributed more than they could afford, that some small local funds in entirely different regions agreed to pitch in, or that the clinic ended up waiving the rest of the fee when they still couldn't reach the total needed. The clinic staff, some of whom have worked for Dr. T since before I was even fertile, were instrumental in carrying out the doctor's philosophy of compassionate care by coordinating the financial arrangements for this low-income family.

The National Network of Abortion Funds writes:

In response to requests from Dr. Tiller's clinic staff, emails and phone calls we received from Dr. Tiller's friends and former patients, and a groundswell of support online, the National Network of Abortion Funds created the George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund late in the evening of Sunday, May 31, 2009.

Within the first 24 hours of the Fund's existence, we received more than $15,000 in donations.

The George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund will provide assistance to the same women Dr. Tiller served: women seeking abortions in their second-trimesters, women facing extreme obstacles to abortion, and women who often must travel from their homes to obtain the abortion care they need. The Fund will assist with the cost of the procedures as well as the costs of travel and lodging. Notably, this Fund will be available to patients of the late Dr. Tiller's clinic, Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, at such time when the clinic is able to regroup and reopen.

To donate to the Fund in Dr. Tiller's name, please send contributions to:
George Tiller Memorial Abortion Fund
c/o National Network of Abortion Funds
42 Seaverns Ave
Boston, MA 02130

You may also donate online.

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