Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Thank You

Sitting at work earlier today, I kept thinking that I would write a “normal” blog post. Get back to writing about a patient story, or a funding story. Tonight I went to a memorial service for Dr. Tiller – I have been to a couple of others this past week. It made me want to say something on the subject.

I never met Dr. Tiller. To me his murder meant more of a general want and a need to continue to work in reproductive health, so that his death would not be in vain. It still does. And even though I was extremely saddened by what happened, and it filled me with a new fire to try to help women in whatever capacity I can, it wasn’t personal. I didn’t feel a personal connection to it until tonight. Tonight I sat at a memorial service listening to a friend of Dr. Tiller’s speak of him not only as a doctor, and a champion for women’s health, but also as a husband, father, grandfather, and friend. Someone who provided abortion services because there were women who needed these services and providing those women with health care was his duty and the right thing to do as a doctor. Because I never knew him I didn’t stop to think of him as that person, stop to think of his family.

I think of the sacrifice he gave and the sacrifice his family gave, so women could have access to safe, supportive abortion care. As I walk past a local abortion clinic daily, I now think of the staff who work there. I think of the sacrifice they are making, that their loved ones are making, so they too can help women. I think about the clinic escorts who volunteer early morning hours – Saturday, before work – to help women and their companions safely get inside to their appointments.

I want to say thank you. Thank you for putting yourselves in harm’s way. Thank you for not thinking of yourselves, but for what you can do for others.


  1. hey guys, i really generally do like the blog, but this post kinda pissed me off. dr tiller didn't make a sacrifice, and nobody should have to make any sort of "sacrifice" for the health of others. he was fucking MURDERED. somebody hunted him down and killed him because they don't like the work he does. fine, he did good work for a lot of people, but that doesn't make him some sort of sacrificial lamb. thinking that all this was some sort of noble sacrifice really obscures the fact that some asshole with a gun and a fucked up sense of right and wrong decided to shoot him in front of his family and his friends. let's spend our energy calling these murders and this terrorism what it is and STOPPING it in the future and stop eulogizing someone who was just doing his (really awesome) job.

  2. Patrick - yes and no, I think. Sure, no one SHOULD have to sacrifice all the things that they do in order to make people a little healthier and happier. But do they? Yes, they do have to. I'm not even talking about Dr. Tiller losing his life, in particular. No one for a minute thinks that Dr. Tiller wanted to die for this, but it's clear that he was willing to risk it for his practice. He made a lot of changes to his life, and his family did too, in order to stay as safe as possible while doing what he did; beyond physical safety, he also risked a lot of ostracism and conflict. And lots of other people in abortion care service have made the same decisions, ranging from "i don't speak frankly when making new friends" to "i never sit by open windows" and "i don't go out in public with my children." And those are sacrifices.

    I get your rhetorical point, I think. I don't want to see us get buried in our sadness about Dr. Tiller either, or make him into a "symbol" that we need to touch like a worry-stone. But you can't blow in to a funeral and tell people to stop talking about the deceased and get on with the moving-on already.

  3. Patrick -

    I agree that Dr. Tiller was doing his job, and I don't think that his life should be given for that. My point was that he was sacrificing himself, his safety, to do his job. I agree with Placenta Sandwich in that maybe he "shouldn't" be a symbol of this movement, but he is. He was an outspoken, well known doctor, who provided abortions knowing his life wa in danger. I don't know if you work in reproductive health, but I think if you did, you would understand why so many posts, news articles, etc have been dedicated to him lately.

  4. patrick-
    how can a murdered late-term abortion provider NOT be a symbol of this movement? people are harrassed, threatened, shamed, disowned, and murdered for their work in this field. was dr. tiller just "doing his job?" uh, i guess? the personal sacrifices he made to "just do his job" were totally insane. the types of things he did for his patients went WAY WAY WAY WAY above and beyond the call of duty. NOT eulogizing him would be insulting. also, he was shot TEN DAYS ago. he mattered so much. he was the best abortion provider in the country, in my opinion. people aren't going to get over it so fast. especially people who worked with him and his staff.

  5. also, can i just present the following as a tiny example of going above and beyond:

    "And, when we were tormented by Operation Rescue protesters outside his clinic, he put on a bullet proof vest and personally drove us out of there while we hid in his van."


This is not a debate forum -- there are hundreds of other sites for that. This is a safe space for abortion care providers and one that respects the full spectrum of reproductive choices; comments that are not in that spirit will either wind up in the spam filter or languish in the moderation queue.