Fear, Hope, And A Resolution Follow Clinic Closing

As a nation reels at the news that murdered ob/gyn Dr. George Tiller's clinic in Wichita will permanently close, the House is considering a resolution honoring Tiller.

The resolution would read, in part,

Whereas Dr. George Tiller was murdered in Wichita, Kansas, on May 31, 2009;

Whereas Dr. Tiller is mourned by his family, friends, congregation, community, and colleagues;

Whereas Dr. Tiller, 67, was killed in his place of worship, a place intended for peace and refuge that in a moment became a place for violence and murder;

[...] Whereas violence is deplorable, and never an acceptable avenue for expressing opposing viewpoints: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the House of Representatives—

(1) offers its condolences to Dr. Tiller's family; and

(2) commits to the American principle that tolerance must always be superior to intolerance, and that violence is never an appropriate response to a difference in beliefs.

This resolution would help express the outrage many Americans are feeling against Tiller's assassination, but what it won't do is bring him or his clinic back. Katherine Spillar of Feminist Majority was relatively upbeat about the closing, saying,

It's what the extremist wing of the antiabortion movement wanted, but this is not a victory for them. [...] I think that you will see a regrouping and a determination on the part of the medical community in this country. In the meantime, we are working to ensure that all women in this country have access to the medical care they need.

Some believe that the absence of Tiller's clinic, and the circumstances of its closing, may actually hurt the anti-abortion movement. David Gittrich of Kansans for Life says, "This will change things in the pro-life movement, of course. They're not going to be able go out in front of Tiller's now." "But," he adds, "until abortion is illegal, unthinkable and unacceptable, there's going to be plenty of things for pro-lifers to do."

While much conservative response has been muted, a few have been more outspoken. A church marquee photographed by the Kansas City Star read, "George Tiller — he died the same way he lived." And in response to Tiller colleague LeRoy Carhart's assertion that Tiller's murder "is the equivalent of Martin Luther King being assassinated," John McCormack of The Weekly Standard wrote,

It looks like Carhart, one of the few abortionists in the country willing to dismember or poison to death healthy babies (oops, I mean "fetuses") of healthy women during the third-trimester, is doing his part to help mitigate the recent blowback against pro-lifers with this absurd comparison.

We can only hope that these extreme voices help worsen the disagreements that Mark Gietzen, president of the Kansas Coalition for Life, says already exist in the Kansas anti-abortion camp. But no matter how it affects the political climate, the people most immediately harmed by the clinic's closing are the women who were awaiting abortions there. California ob-gyn Pratima Gupta says,

You know, Dr. Tiller had patients that were scheduled for Monday morning. What happened to those patients for the rest of the week, the rest of the month? Those patients are the ones who need us.

There are only about ten late-term abortion providers in the country, some of them do not advertise, and women who need abortions very soon or have spent significant money to travel to Wichita may have trouble reaching them. For the sake of choice in America, we hope Spillar is right that others will step in to fill the void left by Tiller. But in the meantime, Scott Roeder has done violence not only to Tiller himself, but also to the women who needed him.

HR 505 Text [Library of Congress]
Slain Abortion Doctor George Tiller's Clinic To Close [LA Times]
Track Resolution 505 [Govtrack]

Related: Closed Clinic Leaves Abortion Protesters At A Loss [New York Times]
What's Next For Slain Abortion Doctor's Clinic? [NPR]
The Dangers Of Fundamentalism, Part 94 [The Atlantic]
Tiller's Killing "Equivalent of Martin Luther King Being Assassinated" [Weekly Standard]