Sunday's events in Wichita are a stark reminder of the ongoing sacrifices made by thousands of women and men who provide and protect reproductive health care in this nation. Yesterday, Dr. George Tiller, a provider of reproductive health care, including abortion, made the ultimate sacrifice with his life.
All across this country, brave men and women have dedicated their lives and careers to women's health care. And, they do it with grace and courage, just as Dr. Tiller did. Volunteer escorts stand at the doors of health care centers to ensure patients' safe passage. Health care providers and ancillary staff provide a full range of reproductive health care services to patients, including abortion.
Dr. Tiller once said his life story will be told through the women whose lives he saved. His story also will be told through the health providers who will continue to go to work every day to serve women and families.
Caring staff offer sex education, contraception, cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and other preventive health care for women. They conduct their work every day in the face of anger and hatred, because they believe that women should make their own decisions about whether and when to have a child.
Dr. George Tiller provided abortion care to women for many years. He and his staff offered help to women facing some of the most difficult medical circumstances, often late in their pregnancies. He was continually harassed by abortion opponents for much of his career--his clinic was burned down, he was shot by a health center protestor, and he was recently targeted for investigation only to be acquitted by a jury just a few months ago. None of this stopped George Tiller from his commitment to providing women and their families with compassionate care that others were unwilling to offer. His death is an enormous loss for our movement, and for women and their families across America.
Having come to know some of the many people who provide and protect reproductive health and justice, I know that this heinous act will not dissuade them from doing what they believe is right. Reproductive health care providers are a tenacious group of professionals and activists who make sacrifices every day to keep women and families safe and healthy.
It takes special people to subject themselves to the ugly and harmful rhetoric and acts of the opposition for the unselfish assurance that reproductive health care is available to all regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.