The Dr. Tiller I Knew

Ken AshfordCrime, Women's IssuesLeave a Comment

From a Daily Kos diarist:

Like many in this community, my heart is heavy today. There have been many great diaries that talk about Dr. Tiller's years of service to women, and the threats he has endured throughout the last years of his life. My story is a bit more personal and I want to share it with all of you to give you more insight into the man.

In 1975 my Mom noticed an indention in her left breast. She called and made an appointment with her OB/GYN, Dr. George Tiller. After his initial examination, he ordered a biopsy. While performing the biopsy he immediately knew that the lump was cancerous. Instead of just closing and scheduling surgery, he “grabbed a handful”, his words not mine. Her cancer Dr. credited this quick thinking by Dr. Tiller with saving her life, and due to this she didn’t even have to undergo chemotherapy.

Several years later my Mother and I were driving by his clinic in Wichita. Mom started complaining of chest pains, so I drove into his parking lot and ran in to get help. Dr. Tiller was by Mom’s side immediately, and stabilized her, before the heart attack could cause severe damage.

In 1980 I was pregnant with my first child. I had no insurance and couldn't afford a doctors appointment until I was approved for a medical card.. Mom told Dr. Tiller and he brought me into his office where he examined me, free of charge. I can credit him with the very first picture taken of my son.

The last story I have to share is about my friends who could not have children. Dr. Tiller’s office worked with several attorneys in the Wichita area to provide adoption services for his patients who wanted this option. My friends have a 10 yr. old boy now, who is loved and adored.

I’m not a great writer, so I apologize that this isn’t nearly as eloquent as some of the diaries on Daily Kos. I just wanted to get this story out to you, so you could hear how this man wasn’t just a tremendous fighter for women's rights. He was a brilliant physician, and a kind and compassionate human being. RIP Dr. Tiller and thank you for all you did for my friends and my family.

Commenter deekaa6

 at Balloon Juice, on his experiences with Dr. George Tiller:

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.