Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dr. George Tiller was assassinated today.

I wish I had words.

All kinds of people are writing eloquently and profoundly about Dr Tiller's death.
My thoughts refuse to form those kinds of statements.
All I can come up with is a string of profanities, a line of "why" questions, and utter disbelief and shock.
I'm still stunned.

((For more eloquent statements and reflections, see: Cristina Page, Ann at Feministing, pretty much anything at Kansas Jackass, and former PPFA president, Gloria Feldt, at Salon.))

I received a text message from my friend Christene this morning, during my barista shift at my second job. It said, simply, "Dr george tiller - abortion doc in wichita - was killed this morning."
I stared at it, shocked. I assumed it was a sick joke. Or maybe she'd just read an old story about him being shot. He's been shot before. And he lived. He's Dr Tiller. He doesn't get killed. They've already tried.
The words tumbled out of my mouth as I read the text to my coworker. As I spoke, I called Christene. She said she'd just read it in the Wichita Eagle. That he'd been shot on his way into a church service.

I gathered tidbits from other friends via text for the rest of the day. That he'd been shot not outside, but INSIDE his church.
That the suspect had been apprehended in Gardner, KS. Just a short distance outside of Kansas City.
That the car was registered to someone who lived in Merriam, KS. A suburb of KC. About 10-15 minutes from me. A man who most likely has protested outside of the Planned Parenthood clinics here. Who is most likely pretty involved in the anti-choice movement HERE.

Dr Tiller was killed.
In Wichita, Kansas.
This is my turf.
I live a block from the Kansas state line.
I work in the reproductive health field in this region.
This is where I am.
Wichita's not exactly close, but it feels like it's my backyard.
This is where I am.
This is what I do.

And someone's been killed, in my backyard, for doing work in the same field I do work in.
Not just any someone.
Dr. George Tiller.
Golden boy of the pro-choice movement.
Woke up to death threats and pickets and protests almost every day.
Had been shot before. And lived.
Kept working, despite all of this, perhaps in spite of all of this, because he knew what it meant.

Without Dr Tiller, there will be no abortion providers between Denver and Overland Park, KS.
That's only part of what this means, on the broader level, for women. For Kansans. For all of us.

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