As a student, I had the opportunity to hear Dr. George Tiller give a lecture on abortion at my first professional conference. He spoke with compassion and practicality, both of which are necessary to provide counseling regarding this sensitive issue. It was inspiring - after hearing him, I felt I was better equipped to discuss the full range of pregnancy options with patients.
When I heard the news on Sunday that Dr. Tiller had been shot, I cried. Not only for his family - his wife, his children, his grandchildren. But for every other family who will now face a terrible diagnosis in their (very wanted) pregnancy with one less choice about what to do next.
Pro-life groups were quick to denounce Dr. Tiller's murder as a "cowardly act," stating that they do not approve of violence of any kind. In my humble opinion, their aggressive rhetoric did play a role. It incites hatred, though obviously a person must be mentally unstable to begin with to act on that hatred. Unfortunately, I have little hope that pro-life groups will change their tactics.
The plain fact of the matter is that Dr. Tiller was providing a medical service - one that he knew put a target on his back - because he felt it needed to be provided. Regardless of your politics, you must acknowledge that he was a man with the courage of his convictions. He will be missed.