(PRESS RELEASE) On the fifth anniversary of the murder of the Kansas reproductive health care provider Dr. George Tiller at the hands of an anti-choice activist, the Center for Reproductive Rights remembers his legacy as a fearless defender of women’s fundamental health and rights, providing abortion care despite decades of relentless and vicious attacks on his clinic, family, and private life.
Before he was murdered in his church on May 31, 2009, the Center for Reproductive Rights represented approximately 2,000 of Dr. Tiller’s patients when a citizen-paneled grand jury attempted to subpoena their private medical records in January 2008. In August 2008, the Center nominated Dr. Tiller for the Netherlands government’s annual Human Rights Tulip award for individuals who have shown exceptional moral courage in protecting and promoting the rights of his or her fellow citizens.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Dr. Tiller’s death was a devastating loss to the reproductive rights movement and to the many women across this country who relied on his compassionate medical care. The Center for Reproductive Rights honors Dr. Tiller’s legacy of service to women and will remember him as a stalwart defender of human rights.
“Reproductive health care providers in the United States continue to face unacceptable obstacles every day in their commitment to serve women. In the five years since Dr. Tiller’s murder, state legislators from Texas to Mississippi to North Dakota have engaged in a race to the bottom to make safe and legal abortion care as difficult to obtain as they possibly can.
“Abortion providers in the U.S. are not just health care professionals, they are human rights defenders. They ensure that all women have access to accurate medical information, a secure place to make private decisions, and, most importantly, safe, legal, high quality medical care.”
The much-publicized murders and attempted murders of abortion providers such as Dr. Tiller illustrate the culture of daily harassment and intimidation faced by reproductive health providers. In the decades since abortion was legalized in the U.S, doctors and clinic staff have been continually threatened with harm, patients have been routinely harassed, and abortion clinics have suffered bombings, arson, and blockades. According to the National Abortion Federation, there have been eight murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 181 incidences of arson, and thousands of incidents involving other criminal activities since 1977. This constant assault doesn’t just endanger and marginalize abortion providers, it denies the rights of the one in three American women who will seek an abortion in their lifetimes.