A week after the murder of Dr. Tiller, pro choice doctors, advocates, counselors, and health care providers are still thinking, “now what”?. During the Clinton administration there were numerous acts of violence by “pro-life” fanatics, doctors were killed and clinics were terrorized. Once Bush was in office there was a dramatic decline in “pro-life” violence, whenever the political administration is more conservative “pro-lifers” seem to settle down. With Obama in office will “pro-life” people continue to mobilize fanatics to commit these kinds of acts of terrorism? The pro-choice community must mobilize to demand access to basic health care rights, we must be willing to risk our lives, as long as “pro-life” advocates believe it’s their right to threaten to our lives.
I’m no doctor, but I am an educator, a counselor, a friend, a sister, and a resource. We have to continue to make our rights our reality. It’s not easy to commit to making our most basic rights accessible; in fact it’s much more difficult for many of my sisters. Life and circumstance does not always provide the ability to create one’s own reality. However, some of us can grab that torch and keep going forward. We will not leave our sisters in the dark, but we hold their hands and carry the torch as we all walk forward.
We need doctors who will perform abortions; young people in medical school are not choosing to perform abortions, very possibly because it means choosing to risk your life. Fifty Seven percent of abortion doctors are over the age of fifty, we need young physicians and medical students to step up to the plate and demand to learn abortion care. Some of us will be able to carry on this piece of the story in many capacities. Dr. Tiller was one piece of that story. He understood that abortion was about a women’s heart. We need people who are willing and able to risk their lives to make abortion health care an accessible choice.
At the vigil I went to, for Dr. Tiller, one woman gave her testimony regarding Dr. Tiller’s involvement in her life. She was from Wichita, Kansas and Dr. Tiller helped her birth mom choose to arrange an adoption. This woman believed abortion is a completely acceptable option even for her birth mother. However, she is here in this world because Dr. Tiller supported a woman’s choice, no matter what. Dr. Tiller also made sure the babies who were adopted were given to pro-choice families.
My mother had an abortion about four years before she got pregnant with me. When she got pregnant for the second time she was relatively young, single and unsure of what to do. She met a life long sister who offered to support my mom in any decision she made about her pregnancy. This woman offered to raise me with or without my mom’s involvement. She offered to hold my mother’s hand during an abortion or childbirth. She offered to support her in choosing to become a single parent. This woman held my mother’s torch. My mom had the support to commit to having a child because she had the support to choose any path she needed to take.
This woman is my aunt; she did support my mom in raising me and has always loved me like her own. As women, sisters, daughters, mothers, and friends we have to try and hold each other’s torch whenever possible. I am my sister’s keeper.
We need all people to step up to carry on the work to make reproductive choice a reality. Each of us must step up to make our rights our reality in whatever way possible. Some people will be able to go to medical school and can choose to perform abortions and provide women with information to make their own decisions. Some people will support a sister, a friend, or a stranger in working through a decision making process. Some people will work towards productive policy changes. Whatever torch you carry, this is time to step up, hold someone else’s hand, and walk forward.