Anti-abortion terrorist murders Kansas physician

George R. Tiller, M.D., an abortion provider in Wichita, KS, who has been the target of anti-abortion vigilantes in the past, was murdered this morning as he was about to enter his church to attend Sunday morning services. Tiller, 67, was the medical director of Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita, which provided abortion services and other care for pregnant women. His murder is yet another attack on women’s right to abortion. It’s an act of terror, aimed at intimidating supporters of a woman’s right to choose abortion, in general, and at physicians who provide abortion services, in particular.

These attacks on women’s rights hit African-American and other minority women especially hard. Nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and four out of 10 of these are terminated by abortion.(1) However, like other burdens shouldered by people in this country, the burden of unintended pregnancy does not fall equally across racial and ethnic categories: 40% pregnancies among white, 69% of those among African-American women, and 54% of those among Latinas are unintended.

In the main, women seek abortions because they understand the important responsibilities and obligations of parenthood.(2) The reasons women give for ending an unintended pregnancy center on providing the best possible care for themselves and their current families. Three out of four women who seek an abortion say they can’t afford a child. Three-fourths say are responsible for caring for other individuals. Three-fourths note that having a child would interfere with their ability to work, attend school, or care for other dependents. These are women who know what they’re talking about — as some 60% of them have one or more children already.(3)

A woman’s right to an abortion is about her right to control her own body. It’s about her right to try to maintain or improve her quality of life and that of her family. We must not let the murder of George Tiller deter us from defending women’s right to choose abortion.

1. Finer LB and Henshaw SK, Disparities in rates of unintended pregnancy in the United States, 1994 and 2001, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2006, 38(2):90–96.

2. Finer LB et al., Reasons U.S. women have abortions: quantitative and qualitative perspectives, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2005, 37(3):110–118.

3. Distributions published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adjusted for year-to-year changes in the reporting states and applied to the total number of abortions. In: Jones RK et al., Abortion in the United States: Incidence and access to services, 2005, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2008, 40(1):6-16.

Sunday, May 31st, 2009 at 15:52