Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A National Outrage: Wichita Abortion Clinic Now Closed

Far be it for me to judge the decision by George Tiller's family today to "permanently close" his late abortion services clinic in Wichita, Kansas in light of the horrifying murder of their loved one.

In a statement released today the Tiller family says "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." A consequence of closing the clinic, Dr. Tiller's colleague, LeRoy Cathart, who intended to stay on, and continuing providing care to women, will no longer have the opportunity to do so.

Far be it for me, or anyone, to sit in judgment of the actions of Dr. Tiller's family unless we have walked in their shoes, unless we have witnessed the barbaric gunning down of a loved one, and even then, it is their call, and their call alone.

But, given that there are only a handful of other late abortion practitioners, in the country, some of whom, like Dr. Tiller, daily risk infamy, injury, and worse to dedicate themselves to protecting the lives of women, one can't help but wonder what signal permanently closing Tiller's clinic sends to those who would like to put a permanent end to choice. In the words of a Boulder late abortion provider "this is what they want. They've been wanting this for 35 years." And, today, the Tiller family have given choice opponents what they've wanted.

For more than twenty years, George Tiller, and his clinic, have been the target of choice opponents. This was not the first time the Kansas physician was the victim of a barbaric, and heinous, act of violence, but it was the last time.

Today, too, it is fair to say that Dr. Tiller is no longer alone. Today, we're all victims as fear has triumphed and we, as a society, have taken one huge step back to the days when a mother can, once again, be allowed to die in childbirth. Only a hundred years ago, we didn't have the science to prevent the tragic loss of the mother's life; now we do. There are some who would like to take us back to the same mindset that makes procreation a woman's primary reason to live. So, indeed, when Scott Roeder took George Tiller's life, not only did he commit first degree murder, he committed a hate crime against women.

Closing the Wichita clinic will not only deny women access to a medically-necessary procedure, and one intended to save their lives, but it will send a message that fear is the most powerful weapon of all.

Far be it for me to judge, but somehow I can't help but think this is not what George Tiller would have wanted. He would want to know that courage didn't die with him in that Kansas church, and that those who care about the lives of women won't be bullied into submitting to the tyranny of those who claim to be protecting the life of the unborn often at the expense of the living.