Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dr. Tillerisms

Dr. Tiller had a whole bunch of sayings that he said guided his behavior, temperament and advice to others. At some point his clinic staff typed up a list of them, and after his murder many of us found it comforting to pass it around. Some of them are borrowed, others probably original. Some seem cheesy to me. But in person Dr. Tiller had a self-assured, positive-thinking kind of vibe and when I met him it all made sense.

Some go over my head, and others really hit close to home. Which of these are meaningful to you? I'll say one of mine at the end of the list, too.

  • The great battles of life are fought between our ears and not any other fields of contact.
  • Don't let the protesters live rent free in your head.
  • Solutions...not problems.
  • Always say thank you personally.
  • A life of reaction is a life of spiritual and emotional slavery.
  • If there is plenty - take plenty; if there is none take it all. (great grandad Romney - quoted by Stanley Tiller '91)
  • An infinite amount of quality can be added to any service.
  • It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice.
  • It's not going to change until you change.
  • When you have to eat crow - chew rapidly, swallow quickly and it doesn't taste too bad.
  • It is better to do a good deal poorly than a bad deal well.
  • If you are going to bet on someone - bet on yourself first.
  • It never pays to dance on someone else's grave.
  • You can change the world - if you do not have to take credit for it.
  • If it's too hot in the kitchen, DON'T COOK.
  • A man has got to know his limitations.
  • You cannot be all things to all people.
  • Ego trips are expensive.
  • It is never the wrong time to do the next right thing.
  • Paddle your own canoe. - Grandma Tiller '59
  • Glory may be fleeting BUT mediocrity is forever.
  • The only requirement for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.
I think that last one was made famous by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: "The only requirement for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." One of the most frustrating parts of being an abortioneer is dealing with pro-choice friends and family who don't vote, don't attend rallies, don't say anything about anti-choice remarks from acquaintances or coworkers. Why so quiet? Silence helps others erroneously believe that everyone they know is against abortion, and that no one they know cares about abortioneers or our patients.

OK, your turn.


  1. "It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice"
    My mom had a button with this saying that I found as a kid and I loved it...it's always been one of my favorite little expressions.

  2. I love the one about not letting the protesters live rent free in your head. . .this applies to all bad people, bad experiences, etc Dr. Tiller's murder is such a loss.

  3. "Women need abortions and I'm going to do them."

  4. IAlwaysHaveAChoice, I read your comment and looked around for that one, and found the following:
    from a post at issues4tissues.livejournal.com/ - "The day after he was shot in 1993, he came to work in bandages and left a sign outside that said WOMEN NEED ABORTIONS, AND I’M GOING TO PROVIDE THEM."
    from an interview with a colleague: "He was doing family medicine. And eventually, a patient needed an abortion, and he said, 'Well, I don’t do abortions.' And the patient said, 'You have to do abortions. Women need abortions, and you have to do them. Your dad did them, and you have to do them.'"

  5. *Correction, the first source is actually an article published in GQ, pasted on that livejournal page, by Devin Friedman entitled "Savior vs Savior".

  6. When I was working with him we had the return of the Summer of Mercy. He had me make banners of his most favorite quotes to hang on the fences for the women to focus on as they were coming in through the throngs of protesters; this is one of my favorites. It may have read, "WOMEN NEED ABORTIONS, AND I’M GOING TO PROVIDE THEM," but I remember it reading as I typed it. It was one of the best ideas he had during that time, I loved how creative he was in trying to help women make it through that horrible drive.

  7. IAlwaysHaveAChoice - sorry for the late reply, but I just wanted to say that's a super wonderful Dr. Tiller story. And so cool you were responsible for bannerizing his messages! Thanks so much for sharing with us.

  8. IAlwaysHaveAChoice - I love your story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Sparky - thanks for sharing this post. I needed to hear some of these Tillerisms today.


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