Remembering Dr. Tiller and other anti-choice terrorism stories (Possible TW for frank discussion of violence)
3 years ago I had just woken up at my mom’s house. I had very recently come to stay with her for the summer since my semester in college was already over. I remember walking into the living room, somewhat bleary-eyed, and my mom (knowing me very well) just told me “They got him”.
I asked who.
“Tiller,” she said, “he was shot today”.
Usually when people are shot dead in their churches, surprise is the first thing that hits you. Or at least, shouldn’t it be? That’s not what I felt. What I felt was the opposite of surprise, because I knew that one day after repeated attacks his luck would have to run out. That’s just a numbers game.
I also felt scared, because I know people who work in clinics that provide abortions. Scared because of my own ideals and desires to work as an advocate for reproductive rights and justice.
That hasn’t waned. The numbers game is still continuing.
Anti-choice terrorism is still going on. I almost feel as though it’s getting worse. The attacks in the legislature are not enough for these people. Although pro-choice advocates know that anti-choicers who support and pass laws that restrict abortion have the blood of those who die in back alleys or even hospital waiting rooms on their hands, it seems as though that’s not enough. They seem to want to be able to see it. To make it real, to make it actual. To stand in a church - the place where many of them get these ideas of being “pro-life” - and put a bullet in someone else’s skull.
How many attacks does it have to be to call it terrorism?
Then again, I guess it can’t be considered terrorism if such violence is made legal.
How many people do we have to remember?
How many threats of violence must there be to be taken seriously?
How many times and by how many people or groups must we be targeted?
Today is a sad day for me and for a lot of pro-choice advocates, I imagine. I didn’t know Dr. Tiller, I never needed his services. But I’ve watched interviews with him and seen his dedication to his practice and seen his dedication to women*. He should be remember for the bravery that it takes to be aware of those that want you dead in the name of life yet still push on and do what’s needed and what’s right. He should be remembered because he was a fully aware sentient person who was killed for making choices others disagreed with - not only a martyr for the pro-choice cause but nearly a metaphor for it.
However, he should be remembered most for the two words most associated with him and most forgotten by legislators who think they’re qualified to micro-manage the very biology of others - “Trust Women” - although we must remember to trust everyone who is capable of becoming pregnant.
There’s little more powerful than that, and that is why Dr. Tiller will and should be remembered by pro-choice advocates and the people that used his services.
If only God-fearing people who gun down others in churches could have had that much faith. If only.
*as he states, although not only women need abortion services