This year, the theme is "Trust Women," the George Tiller slogan. Remember when George Tiller was murdered in his church? I sure do. I was a wreck . I was a new doctor, a few weeks away from starting ob/gyn residency, a training program where I planned on performing abortions. This was after doing a Family Planning elective in Pittsburgh with some of the people who get called upon to testify in supreme court cases. Mitch Creinin, Matt Reeves, some of my early mentors in this field.
At Pitt, I saw women come from Baltimore, Philadelphia, Cleveland to get care, and we weren't considered a late term center. We were just a place that the woman with the anencephalic fetus (no brain = 100% mortality) could get a 20 week termination, or the woman with heart failure who was slowly dying from her pregnancy could get a 22 week abortion. We went to the state limit of 23 weeks and 6 days. Was the 23 and 6 week abortion I saw disturbing as hell? Absolutely. But was it necessary? I have to believe so. Because that woman wouldn't have chosen it if it was not necessary. She chose to value her life. I have to trust that. I never actually performed the procedures as I was still a medical student, but I would do the prep on some: speculum, lidocaine injection, dilator placement. I was involved, an active participant in this emotionally and politically wrought procedure.
So when George Tiller was shot, it was personal. I immediately thought of the next George Tiller. The next murder in the name of a false justice. There are the obvious names that were immediately introduced in the media: Carhart and Hern immediately came to mind. But I thought of other people, people I knew: Mitch, Matt, Bea, Lisa. And then, Karen. Because now, as a resident, I too have become an abortion provider. And so I have the fear, the fear of being gunned down or watching my professional colleagues be gunned down for providing reproductive rights.
Recently, a new George Tiller quote was discovered:
I try to remember that. I try to remember that this is important. I trust my patients, and I trust myself. If I'm going to be brave enough to do this, I have to trust in my passion, my heart, for this field. There are 1787 abortion providers in this country, according to Guttmacher data. If not me, who? Trust women.