A few firsthand experiences people had with Dr. George Tiller have begun popping up online in the aftermath of his murder, exposing the ignorance and callousness behind the blanket caricatures of doctors and those seeking abortions.
from the AgTalk forums:
For the sake of my family’s and especially my son’s privacy, I’ve not often told the story in full detail….and won’t now…..
Let’s just say that my son is adopted, and that his bio mom had traveled a long way from out of state to visit Tiller’s office for an abortion. I don’t know all the details of Tiller’s protocols, but she didn’t meet them, and Tiller refused to abort her. She was showing signs of premature labor, and that was PART of the protocol against abortion. There were other factors. Thereafter, she attempted to abort herself thereby successfully inducing her own premature labor. Tiller AGAIN refused to abort her, but sent her to a hospital, where my son was born by an emergency c-section.
Like many other physicians and attorneys, Tiller maintained a waiting list of couples waiting to adopt “unaborted” babies. My wife and I paid a substantial (by OUR standards) amount of $ to be on his “referral list), hoping that it would encourage him to SAVE a kid.
The notion that Tiller sat around with a club waiting to smack babies born alive is ludicrous. While he had looser standards than many other abortion providers, he still maintained SOME protocols. The notion that he aborted every pregnancy that appeared in his office is also wrong.
Nobody likes the notion of abortion, but women have been seeking them for centuries. Everyone has their own notion of hos best to reduce the numbers. Some folks protest, and vote “pro-life”. Some folks bomb Tiller’s clinic. Some folks teach morality in Sunday School. My wife and I chose to do the latter, and also to spend our own cash getting on Tiller”s “referral list”. It was our way of reducing the numbers.
There’s lots more to the story. I’m not campaigning for sainthood for either Tiller, or myself. We’re all going to have to do some serious “explaining” to our maker about our actions on this earth. NO doubt, Dr. Tiller will have MUCH to discuss with the great I AM. I’m just saying that he had the opportunity to abort my son, and didn’t. Call it conscience, call it professional protocol, call it Divine Intervention, call it what you wish. Believing the worst about Tiller, probably didn’t help.
from Balloon Juice:
In 1994 my wife and I found out that she was pregnant. The pregnancy was difficult and unusually uncomfortable but her doctor repeatedly told her things were fine. Sometime early in the 8th month my wife, an RN who at the time was working in an infertility clinic asked the Dr. she was working for what he thought of her discomfort. He examined her and said that he couldn’t be certain but thought that she might be having twins. We were thrilled and couldn’t wait to get a new sonogram that hopefully would confirm his thoughts. Two days later our joy was turned to unspeakable sadness when the new sonogram showed conjoined twins. Conjoined twins alone is not what was so difficult but the way they were joined meant that at best only one child would survive the surgery to separate them and the survivor would more than likely live a brief and painful life filled with surgery and organ transplants. We were advised that our options were to deliver into the world a child who’s life would be filled with horrible pain and suffering or fly out to Wichita Kansas and to terminate the pregnancy under the direction of Dr. George Tiller.
We made an informed decision to go to Kansas. One can only imagine the pain borne by a woman who happily carries a child for 8 months only to find out near the end of term that the children were not to be and that she had to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy and go against everything she had been taught to believe was right. This was what my wife had to do. Dr. Tiller is a true American hero. The nightmare of our decision and the aftermath was only made bearable by the warmth and compassion of Dr. Tiller and his remarkable staff. Dr. Tiller understood that this decision was the most difficult thing that a woman could ever decide and he took the time to educate us and guide us along with the other two couples who at the time were being forced to make the same decision after discovering that they too were carrying children impacted by horrible fetal anomalies. I could describe in great detail the procedures and the pain and suffering that everyone is subjected to in these situations. However, that is not the point of the post. We can all imagine that this is not something that we would wish on anyone. The point is that the pain and suffering were only mitigated by the compassion and competence of Dr. George Tiller and his staff. We are all diminished today for a host of reasons but most of all because a man of great compassion and courage has been lost to the world.
As suggested upthread, my wife and I spent a week in Dr. Tiller’s care after we learned our 21 week fetus had a severe defect incompatible with life. The laws in our state prevented us from ending the pregnancy there, and Dr. Tiller was one of maybe three choices in the whole nation at that gestational age.
My wife just called with the news of his murder, weeping.
I can’t really come up with some profound political statement just now, so let me just list some memories of Dr. Tiller.
-I remember him firmly stating that he regarded the abortion debate in the US to be about the control of women’s sexuality and reproduction.
-I remember he spent over six hours in one-on-one care with my wife when there was concern she had an infection. We’re talking about a physician here. Six hours.
-He told the story of his previous shooting, where a woman shot him twice in both arms as he drove out of his clinic. At first he wanted to run her down with his Jeep, but then he thought “she shot you already George, she’ll do it again!”
-I remember being puzzled about a T-shirt he was wearing, which said “Happy Birthday Jennifer from team Tiller!” or something similar. Turns out it comemmorated the birthday of a fifteen year old girl who was raped, became pregnant, and came to Tiller for an abortion. As luck would have it, she was in the clinic the same week as her birthday. So the clinic threw her a party.
-The walls of the clinic reception and waiting room are literally covered with letters from patients thanking him. Some were heartbreaking – obviously young and/or poorly educated people thanking Dr. Tiller for being there when they had no other options, explaining their family, church etc. had abandoned them.
-I remember my wife, foggy with sedation after the final procedure, being helped from the exam table. He had her sit up and put her arms around his neck, and then he lifted her into a wheelchair.
“You give good hugs” she whispered.
He paused just for a moment.
“You’re just fine,” he told her.