On Sunday the anti-choice movement had a big win. A huge win, actually. A win that represents a 50% reduction in the availability of certain crucial services for women's health nation wide. It doesn't matter if you don't align yourself with so-called pro-life organizations or if you're against murder or if you're vegan and wear only naturally occurring hemp. If you are anti-choice in any way somebody handed you an enormous win on Sunday when he shot and killed Dr. George Tiller.
Is it everything you were hoping for?
If I sound angry it's because I am. It's a boiling, crazy, frustrated lividity in the center of a huge lobster pot of sadness and not a little fear. I'm told by a former head of Planned Parenthood that my feelings should spur me to action. I'm told by Susie Bright that this act of terrorism will result in a backlash against political conservatives no matter what I do. I'm told by NBC News that there's nothing to be angry about, Dr. Tiller was killed by his reputation, not by a misogynistic nutjob.
I'm being told a lot of stuff. As are we all. Fortunately, as a fully functioning human being and member of society (no matter what anyone tries to tell me to the contrary) I can choose who to listen to and what to take away from all this advice. I'm going to choose to stay angry for a while. I'm not sure how long because I'm angry at a lot of people. Sure I'm angry at people who are anti-choice and thereby supported a culture of disrespect and danger. I'm also angry at the shooter, of course. I'm a little angry at whoever was making security decisions for Dr. Tiller and a lot angry at the various levels of the justice system that allowed his killer to roam free despite numerous acts of terror and violence against people engaged in pro-choice work over the course of the last 20 years. Mostly, though, I'm angry at myself. I'm angry that I've never volunteered my time or money to Dr. Tiller and the one other gentleman in our country who provides similar services. I'm especially angry that, despite practice and education and sheer determination, I have been unable to form words and craft sentences convincingly enough to change minds and increase the culture of choice, choice for all, such that not only would Dr. Tiller still be alive he'd have enough colleagues to care for the women of our nation with the same three dimensional, compassionate approach that he pioneered.
All I can do is keep trying. I feel like I'm saying that about a lot of things lately. The anger will help with that at first. Then it will fade. It always does, if only a little. I will keep trying to resolve that anger into action, into words, and into hope that all women will have access to competent and compassionate reproductive care based on their own, highly individual choices and that with that access we will see a reduction in the need for some of the services in question.
You, the winners, if you will, I ask you to take this occasion to move forward as well. I ask you to challenge your perception of the average woman seeking an abortion. I ask you to investigate the increase of infertility treatment in our country and its relationship to abortion services and the women who require them. I ask that you think really hard about the women you know and make a weighty choice about whether denying certain choices to your perceived Average Woman Seeking An Abortion is worth also denying full choice to the women you love and respect.
It's a long journey, this road to equality. We are only partway there and someone keeps moving the finish line. For all of us, the "winners" and the losers, I post below the places I have gone to be educated since Dr. Tiller was gunned down last Sunday. Knowledge is power, right? And we need fuel for forward motion.
- A couple of extra pieces of info on abortion and on Dr. Tiller's Memorial Fund via Feministing.
- A video about the pro-life (a subset of anti-choice) movement's reaction to Tiller's death. Keep in mind that some of these groups had "Tiller Watch" sites urging their followers to act against Tiller and his colleagues which mysteriously started showing 404 error pages just minutes after news of the shooting broke.
- Here's Moxie's post about being a pro-choice Christian and how she feels about this crime.
- Aaryn Belfer wrote about the word terrorism and how it relates to violence against pro-choice supporters.
- Feministing has done a round up of how we can support the pro-choice movement in honor of Dr. Tiller and in honor of our own beliefs. The one that speaks to me is donating to Medical Students For Choice. While the debate rages on opportunities for learning abortion-related procedures dwindle which has the potential to kill a lot of women, even women who don't fit what you might think of as the typical profile of an abortion seeker.
- Here is Feministing's original post on the tragedy which includes news links about the killing as well as links to stories they posted about Dr. Tiller while he was still alive.
Whoever you are and whatever you believe, thank you for reading. Thank you especially to SAA for letting me know how hard you were listening. It took me a long time to write this post and knowing you are out there made it possible.