George Richard Tiller (1941–2009)

It doesn’t matter how many abortions Tiller performed or at what point during the pregnancy he performed them or whether the fetus had birth defects or how much money he made performing abortions or whether the fetus is a person or the motives behind the desire to seek an abortion. All this is beside the point. An abortion is a private matter between the doctor and the patient. In a free society, women decide whether to have children. Not the state. Not the father. Not the church. Nobody else and no other entity can make that decision for women while at the same time maintaining the personal sovereignty of women. Tiller helped tens of thousand of women realize their personal liberty by empowering them to determine for themselves if and when they should use their sovereign bodies to multiply the numbers of persons on earth. The state didn’t decide for them. They state forced them neither to have a baby nor to have an abortion. That is how it should be in a free society. What matters in this case is that a terrorist from a so-called movement calling itself “pro-life,” but which is in fact a extremist countermovement aiming to deny women sovereignty over their bodies, assassinated a doctor in the foyer of his church.

Anybody who says that the state must force women to have babies – and this includes everybody who believes abortion should be restricted by local, state, or federal government – either does not love personal liberty or does not understand what personal liberty means and why it is imperative to preserve it if we are as a people to be free. At its core, the anti-choice countermovement is the authoritarian desire to place the womb under state control, to control women by controlling their reproductive capacity. It is, whether conscious of itself or not, a desire to enforce by law the essence of patriarchal domination. Tiller, and all those other doctors assassinated by anti-choice extremists, are the victims of terrorism. These terrorists, these religious zealots who desire theocracy, hate our freedoms. They hate our way of life.

Abortion is not an issue where reasonable people can agree to disagree. Either we defend the right of women to control their own bodies or we cave to tyranny. Control over one’s body is a fundamental human right. There is no compromise.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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