George Tiller, MD

Dr. Tiller was murdered on May 31, 2009, for performing abortions.

Living and Practicing on the Front Lines

As the late-term abortion debate raged across the nation, Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, decided it was, once again, time to speak out. Dr. Tiller is one of the very few physicians in the country who performs late-term terminations. He has been shot; his clinic has been bombed; and for more than two years, he lived under the eye of a federal marshal. Yet Dr. Tiller continues to provide late-term abortions when severe fetal anomalies have been diagnosed. “It makes absolutely no sense to do all the prenatal testing if you get all this information and can’t do anything about it,” he says. “My feeling is that prenatal testing without prenatal choice is medical fraud.”

Dr. Tiller, a member of PRCH, trained at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and then served as a United States naval flight surgeon in California before returning to Wichita to begin his private practice. His patients soon made it clear that providing abortion was an integral part of their health needs. Since then, Dr. Tiller has been tremendously active with reproductive rights and health organizations while providing critical services to women in need.

In October 1997, Dr. Tiller and his staff invited legislators and the media to participate in “The Clinic Experience.” “Many legislators have been given partial-truth, half-truth and no-truth reports and information about the activities at abortion clinics,” he says. “I wanted to introduce some kind of factual reality into the discussion on a personal basis.” Each guest was given the profile of a real patient with a pregnancy compromised by fetal abnormality and then walked through the process of terminating that pregnancy. “Patients” included State Representative Mike Farmer and Reverend Tom Scaletty, both of whom had been arrested for protesting at the clinic in 1991.

Was “The Clinic Experience” a success? Dr. Tiller certainly thinks it was. “I feel that the most important thing that the anti-choice legislators learned was that the staff and the physicians are intelligent, dedicated, compassionate individuals who subscribe to the philosophy that women and families are emotionally, mentally, morally, spiritually and physically competent to struggle with complex health issues and come to decisions that are appropriate for them.”

Since 1997, Dr. Tiller and his staff have remained in the public eye, especially as the ongoing controversy surrounding so-called “partial birth” abortion continues. Through it all, Dr. Tiller has been steadfast in his commitment to protect the reproductive rights of his patients.