tiller-clinicOh god. This twists both my heart and my stomach up into tight, hard knots.

The family of slain abortion provider George Tiller said Tuesday that his Wichita clinic will be “permanently closed,” effective immediately.

In a statement released by Tiller’s attorneys, his family said it is ceasing operation of Women’s Health Care Services Inc. and any involvement by family members in any other similar clinic.

“We are proud of the service and courage shown by our husband and father and know that women’s health care needs have been met because of his dedication and service,” the family said.

This is awful.  Just awful.  I feel quite literally ill and nauseous at the moment.

I can’t blame Dr. Tiller’s family.  I don’t blame his family.  I understand that they have risked, and lost, far more than enough.  No one could have ever blamed Dr. Tiller if he had decided, after the years of harassment and threats on his life, to give up practicing at his clinic.  And so we certainly can’t blame his family now for shutting the clinic doors, once those threats were actually carried out.  And I also hear what Dr. Hern, who provides the same type of late abortions that Dr. Tiller did, is saying.  Who would want to work there?  We can talk about principle all day long, but when it comes down to it — a man was murdered because he worked there.  How many of us would be willing to take is place?  Exceedingly few.

But that doesn’t change the loss, and that loss is huge.  The nation has now not only lost one of its bravest, most compassionate abortion providers.  It has also lost one of only three clinics that performed life-saving and therapeutic abortions this late.  (Please note: dozens of clinics perform abortions that would be considered “late.”  Dr. Tiller’s, however, was one of only three that provided abortions as late as they did.)

Women traveled across the nation, often because they had nowhere else to go.  Now, women in Kansas who need later abortions will be forced to travel, too.  And we don’t know how many women will go without care as a result.  We don’t know how many lives will be risked.  We don’t know how many women will be forced to carry to term fetuses that will only die painfully at birth.  We don’t know, but even one is much too high.

But hey, let us think of those anti-choice protesters, hmm?

Anti-choicers did this.  And they can talk all day long about how they “don’t support violence” (my ass), but this is exactly what they wanted.  It is exactly what they always wanted.  Randall Terry, heartless, misogynistic asshole extraordinaire, says as much himself:

Randall Terry, the founder of the original Operation Rescue group, responded to news that Tiller’s clinic would remain closed with, “Good riddance.” He said history would remember Tiller’s clinic as it remembers Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.

“What set him apart is that he killed late-term babies,” Terry said. “If his replacement was going to continue to kill late-term children, the protests would continue, the investigations would continue, the indictments would continue.”

Current Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, who had condemned Tiller’s killing as vigilantism, called the announcement “a bittersweet moment.”

Beautiful, isn’t it?  This is your “non-violent” “pro-life” movement right here.

I am angry.  I am furious at what these people will go to in order to show women that they are nothing more than baby incubators, even if those women must die in that enforced role.  And I am enraged that those who have such extreme disregard for life are still allowed the privilege of the label “pro-life” by the vast majority of our society.

Women will have to pay more for care.  Many women may go without care.  And those who support the actions of Dr. Tiller’s assassin will also see that extreme violence works.  Harassment couldn’t shut Dr. Tiller’s clinic down.  Intimidation couldn’t shut it down.  Threats couldn’t shut it down.  Bombings, vandalism, and shooting Dr. Tiller couldn’t shut his clinic down.  But murdering him?  That’s what it took.  And that’s how they got what they wanted.

I don’t know what to say to that, except that the thought leaves me shaking and thinking to myself: god help us all.

cross-posted at Feministe

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{ 6 comments }

1 SunlessNick June 9, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Damn. Damn them. (I mean the anti-choicers).

2 MomTFH June 9, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Ugh. With 20 family planning fellowships operating, I would hope someone would step up. Maybe someone will open a similar clinic somewhere else. Here’s hoping.

3 Jen June 9, 2009 at 8:14 pm

(re-posting my comment from Feministe)

It wasn’t just late term abortions that Dr. Tiller provided. He also provided first trimester & early 2nd trimester abortion services.
He was the only – the ONLY – abortion provider between Denver and Kansas City.

There are now TWO clinics that provide abortions in Kansas, and both are in the KC metro area. In some parts of Kansas, that’s at least a 5 hour drive, one way. Add to that KS’s 24 hour waiting period related to the “informed consent” legislation, and there’s a huge gap in access for a whole lot of Kansas women who need even early term services.

I absolutely understand the Tiller family’s decision. They’ve been through hell, they just lost a father and husband, and they more than deserve a break from all of this. They don’t have a responsibility to anyone or anything except their own family’s best interests.

I worry, though, about all those women in Kansas who need services. Who’s going to step up? Who would want to step into that role when someone was just killed for providing legal medical services?

4 preying mantis June 9, 2009 at 8:25 pm

““What set him apart is that he killed late-term babies,” Terry said.”

You know, call me crazy, but I don’t really see a moral difference between killing an infant, killing a toddler, and killing a six-year-old.

If you’re so utterly convinced that abortion, full stop, is murder–that it’s tantamount to smothering a baby in its crib–how on earth do you get from that point to “Well, you know, it’s worse because he’s out there doing it at six months. If he was just killing neonates, we wouldn’t have paid him nearly so much mind.”?

5 hexy June 9, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Oh no :(

6 On The Issues Magazine June 10, 2009 at 12:58 pm

The problem is that our society and health care system does everything in its power to dissuade people from becoming abortion doctors. We need to fix this and the culture surrounding abortion so that access remains open.

This is no time for Common Ground….

http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/2009spring/2009spring_publisher.php

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