On the one hand, I want to write the best eulogy ever for a man I never knew personally, but I knew him like he was a rockstar. On the other hand, I want to make every non-abortion supporter feel guilty as a dog with his tail between his legs. Tomorrow, I’m speaking at a vigil in his honor, and I know that standing in front of a microphone screaming isn’t acceptable, so I have to come up with some kind of hybrid.

Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed yesterday, at his church. Several friends of mine knew him personally. When we can’t see a woman at my clinic, because of gestational limits, we refer her to his office in Wichita, Kansas. Just this past Friday, we told a 17-year-old that he was her last hope. When you work in the abortion field, you also work in a community, and we are ALL co-workers. As soon as the first person got the news about Dr. Tiller, my clinic had a phone tree and we met at the clinic manager’s house, where, even if we weren’t talking about him, we all just knew. Before I went over there, I stopped by Target, and I was infuriated with every last shopper there for not understanding that a real and amazing human being was just killed, and each and every woman in America just lost a little bit more of her rights.

And that’s why I want them to feel guilty. Sometimes, I’m quicker to get angry than I am to get sad, and today, I want people to feel ashamed that I have to work behind bullet-proof glass and they don’t. I want them to feel embarrassed that the FBI doesn’t need to call their workplace just because of the nature of the work. I want them to feel guilty that there are hundreds more Dr. Tillers out there who still have to have backup plans and backup entrances into their workplaces and their homes. I want them to feel guilty for not telling a jokester, “That anti-choice joke is not OK.”

Dr. Tiller deserves those feelings, but he also deserves honor. He represents a political struggle, but he also represents a very real man who wore tracksuits and ushered at church, who also provided a rare and invaluable service (and human right) to countless women. He did a medical procedure and he also provided counseling. He had a close-knit staff, not at all unlike the one at my own clinic. He had a wife, four kids, and ten grandchildren.

Maybe you wouldn’t have a 28 week abortion, which is great, because I’m not asking you to. But no one can not give thanks that someone was such a skilled activist and physician who gave that gift to women. You probably don’t know what the procedure entails and you probably don’t know how safe it really is. But you know what basic human rights are.

This is the first time I’ve been able to use imperfect verb tense about such a perfect man.

And most importantly, as I said on Facebook, and then as I was quoted on WRFG today, “We’re not stopping.” Not one of my co-workers even considered not coming into work. This doesn’t scare us.

P.S. People who should NOT feel ashamed include my friends and family who never cease to support me and what I do, and the people who came out of the woodwork on Facebook to show support. Feel proud of yourselves.

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