June 1, 2009
To honor the memory of Dr. Tiller,
we need to carry on the fight for reproductive rights
by Anne Slater, Radical Women, National Organizer
The heart of every member of Radical Women goes out to the family, friends and co-workers of Dr. George Tiller, a fallen hero for women's rights. Dr. Tiller was gunned down Sunday morning at his church in Wichita, Kansas. He was a courageous champion of a woman's right to control her own body and destiny. Despite years of relentless rightwing harassment, Dr. Tiller continued to provide a full range of reproductive health services. His Women's Health Care Services clinic is one of just three in the nation that provides late-term abortions.
For decades, ultra-right forces targeted Dr. Tiller and his clinic, bombing the facility in 1985 and shooting Tiller in 1993. In 1991 and 2001 Operation Rescue unsuccessfully attempted to shut the clinic down. Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline launched an anti-choice witch-hunt against Tiller that lasted for 15 years. But they were not able to silence or stop him. Instead, he bravely persisted in defending women's freedom.
There is no question that Tiller's death is a political assassination. While horrifying, it is not completely surprising. The anti-abortion movement has a track record of mayhem and murder under a cover of sanctity. Recently, far-right forces in general have become emboldened. A crashing economy, skyrocketing prices, and desperate competition for jobs feed a movement that blames single moms, immigrants, people of color and queers for all society's ills and expresses its ideology in violent action.
The murder of Dr. Tiller is a wake-up call to evaluate our approach to winning reproductive justice. Some groups focus on winning seats for pro-choice candidates, usually Democrats. Some have sought compromise in an attempt to appease neo-conservatives. These strategies have failed.
What is necessary to defeat the bigots is to generate a powerful movement to express the majority's belief that a woman must be able to make the most crucial decisions about the direction of her life. Visible, militant, multi-hued, multi-issue community organizing is what won abortion rights and virtually every other gain of working people. That is what is needed today, so that not one more abortion provider is injured, killed or intimidated.
Radical Women calls on feminists to join together to build a united front capable of stopping the ultra-right and winning survival needs such as full reproductive rights, affordable housing, childcare and education, single-payer healthcare, decent paying jobs, expanded human services, and an end to U.S. wars. If you are interested in collaborating on this kind of effort, contact Radical Women at RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com or 206-722-6057 or find a local chapter near you.
Dr. Tiller's legacy is one of committed passion and unflinching resolve. Let's honor his memory by rekindling the feminist movement to finally win reproductive rights and full equality.
National Radical Women
625 Larkin St. Suite 202, San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone 415-864-1278 ? RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com