As those of you that read this blog are aware, an assassination took place in my community a week ago today. Like many I have sat on the sidelines and watched as our rights have been eroded. Bill after bill has been passed restricting abortion. Pharmacists refused to fill valid prescriptions. Clinic after clinic has closed. Doctor after doctor has been vilified and harassed. Our lone clinic in this area is now closed because a zealot decided to execute Dr. George Tiller. Let me be clear for my readers that might not get it. I see no difference in what Scott Roeder allegedly did and what the Taliban, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah or Hamas do. There is NO moral justification for this crime. This type of fanaticism is unacceptable no matter which religion’s brand is on it.
In a statement to the Associated Press today, alleged assassin Scott Roeder claimed "I know there are many other similar events planned around the country as long as abortion remains legal," Roeder said. He would not elaborate.” That is terrorism my friends.
On Friday, the Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women organized Speak Out: a Community Discussion on Choice. State board members from Kansas NOW, Attorney Pedro Irigonegaray and Attorney Gloria Allred participated.
Ms. Allred felt the need to be here in Wichita after hearing of the “horrific assassination of Dr. Tiller”. Having been forced to endure a pre-Roe illegal abortion – and almost dying from it. Ms. Allred is acutely aware of what is at stake. She was very nice, by the way (I even got my picture taken with her). Many there just wanted to know – what do we do now? And many of us are still trying to figure that out.
Saturday was Dr. Tiller’s funeral – I arrived at the church at 8:30 a.m. thinking that a hour and a half before would be enough – but the parking lot was already nearly full. Members of the American Legion Riders (many of whom are also part of the Patriot Guard) were already there with their motorcycles and their American Flags. When word spread that Fred Phelps and his band of morons would be making an appearance and out of fear that other groups might choose to disrupt the service – KS NOW organized a “Martyr Guard” to protect the friends and family of Dr. Tiller. Nearly 100 of us stood at the curb attempting to shield them as much as we could from those driving by with a bible out the window, the press and protesters. ******EDIT: I should say that people came from Iowa, Colorado and New York to take part in the forum, as well as stand in the Martyr Guard with us.
Luckily, the service was not disrupted, the press while pushy was not particularly bad – and Phelps cult was relegated to a corner about a block or so away. I have only seen that many security personnel in one place before and that was the Democratic convention in 2004 – they were everywhere. And it’s sad that they had to be.
I guess what I take from this weekend is that those of us that value our reproductive rights have a responsibility to step up and fight for them.
Here are some statistics that I bet you didn’t know: (emphasis added – info is global in nature not just U.S.)
World Health Organization research shows that abortion rates are consistent regardless of prohibitive law, and demonstrates that where the procedure is illegal, women turn to unsafe means. Women in lower income brackets, who cannot afford the high prices of underground providers, or the travel costs to countries where abortion is legal, are especially vulnerable.
Complications due to these unsafe methods - for example inserting coat hangers into the uterus or drinking turpentine - cause upwards of 67,000 deaths and 5 million hospitalizations, and orphan a quarter-million children, every year. These statistics suggest that the global abortion debate is not about whether or not abortions happen; it is about whether or not they happen safely.