Women across the country have lost a champion today. The cold-blooded murder of Dr. George Tiller this morning in church is a stark reminder that women’s bodies are still a battleground, and health care professionals are on the frontlines.
This kind man and skilled doctor braved blockades, harassment, assault, and countless threats, including an attempted murder in 1993 when he was shot in both arms. He knew his life was in constant jeopardy, and that he would likely die at the hands of an anti-abortion terrorist — yet he continued to protect his patients and provide safe and legal abortions to women in often-desperate circumstances. Those who are behind this murder may believe that the killing of George Tiller will mean that these women will have nowhere else to turn, but they are wrong. On the contrary, I believe their depraved acts will inspire another doctor to take up the torch, and another, and another.
Dr. Tiller’s slaying is the most recent in a string of murders in the service of the anti-abortion cause, and hundreds of people have been injured or threatened because they provide legal abortion services. Bringing the killers to justice is not enough – the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security must root out and prosecute as domestic terrorists and violent racketeers the criminal enterprise that has organized and funded criminal acts for decades. We call on the new attorney general Eric Holder and head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to treat these murders in the same way they would treat politically-motivated domestic terrorism of any other kind and put the full resources of their two departments behind that effort.
Tomorrow will be a Day of Mourning for Dr. Tiller as well as a National Day of Commitment for all who believe abortion must remain both safe and legal — who believe women have the right and indeed the moral obligation to make their own childbearing decisions. We urge individuals to wear white armbands all day tomorrow, Monday, June 1, in memory of Dr. Tiller and as a visible expression of determination to redouble our commitment to protecting the right to safe and legal birth control and abortion.