Dr George Tiller was one of the few US doctors who would perform late-term abortions. Because of that he is dead, shot by someone who apparently objected to his work. It wasn’t the first attempt to kill him. (Late-term abortions end pregnancies where the foetus is viable, but two doctors decide the mother-to-be’s life will be seriously threatened if the pregnancy continues.) So should his willingness to continue under such threats make him a hero of the women’s rights movement? Should people who support abortion be more vocal in their support of people like Dr Tiller?
Last night in the US a nationwide network of candlelight vigils mourned Dr Tiller as a ‘saint and a martyr’. But the marches by no means shut down city centres because of their sheer numbers.
A recent poll in found 42% of Americans consider themselves so-called pro-life (anti-abortion) and 51% pro-choice (pro-abortion). That represents an 8% shift towards an anti-abortion view in just a year. The same poll found, however, that 75% of Americans support the legality of abortions in any circumstances, or under certain circumstances.
Dr Tiller had been shot previously, but despite that he continued to do what he believed in, despite the threats and risks. Should the people who believe in a woman’s right to choose be more vocal in their support of people like Dr Tiller who are prepared to risk their lives to provide the service?
And if so many people support the provision of abortions, why aren’t they more vocal? Is it because there is still shame associated with having, or supporting abortions? Is it still seen an a private matter, not one to be taken to the streets?