Celebrating The Legacy Of Dr. George Tiller

On May 31, 2009, a man walked into a Wichita, KS church and shot and killed George Tiller, MD. Dr. Tiller had dedicated his life to providing medical care for women, including abortions for those who needed them later in their pregnancies. Abortion rights have been under constant threat since his murder, so on the sixth anniversary of his death, Dr. Tiller's legacy and work is more important than ever. Dr. Tiller spent his career working in Wichita. He toldThe New York Times about realizing the immense need women had for abortions, and how desperate they were for care. Dr. Tiller's clinic became one of the only in the country where women could terminate pregancies at later stages, often after learning of horrific fetal abnormalities. For nearly 40 years, Dr. Tiller performed abortions — and for nearly all of that time, he faced protests and terrorist attacks. His clinic was bombed, and he was shot in both arms. Kansas even tried to criminally prosecute him, but he never stopped working. According to websites such as A Heartbreaking Choice — and interviews with Dr. Tiller's colleagues and friends in documentaries such as After Tiller it's obvious that he cared deeply about his patients and his mission, and that his compassion for women in difficult situations was bottomless. "One message I’d love to leave the world with is that abortion is healthcare, and essential service, like an other health service," Raegan McDonald-Mosley, Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of Maryland, said when asked what people should remember on Sunday. "More importantly, we should be recognizing the sacrifices Tiller made for all the women he cared for, the sacrifices of his family. What Doctor Tiller did and others do on an daily basis is critically important." It was only last year that an abortion clinic reopened in Wichita, located in the same building where Tiller's clinic once operated. There are still doctors who provide later-term abortions, but only a handful — and they face the same harassment and potential violence that Dr. Tiller did. These doctors include Willie Parker, MD, who works in Mississippi's lone abortion clinic and travels from Chicago to perform procedures there, and LeRoy Carhart, MD, who fought for years to keep his practice in Nebraska but was eventually forced to move to Maryland. At a time when states have passed 72-hour waiting periods for abortion, require counseling that includes false information, and are forcing women to undergo mandatory, medically unnecessary ultrasounds, Tiller's most famous words (a motto he printed on buttons) are critical: "Trust Women."

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