George Tiller, MD

tillerDr. George Tiller (1941-2009) was a family physician who provided abortions for more than 30 years, specializing in later procedures. He 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.

Dr. Tiller was tremendously active with reproductive rights and health organizations while providing critical services to women in need. Despite continual harassment and violence, he advocated tirelessly for the women he served. A former Physicians for Reproductive Health board member, Dr. Tiller mentored colleagues from around the country. He provided compassionate and quality care to women in difficult situations.

On May 31, 2009, Dr. Tiller was killed by an anti-abortion protestor.

To honor his memory, every year Physicians for Reproductive Health awards one physician the George Tiller, MD, Abortion Provider Award, which recognizes a doctor early in his or her career who provides abortions while demonstrating leadership and courage, even in the face of adversity.

About Dr. Tiller:

Remembering Dr. Tiller

Dr. George TIllerSix years ago, we lost a dear friend, a brilliant and compassionate physician, and a true hero. Dr. George Tiller was murdered at his church by an anti-choice extremist. While we will never fully be able to forget the tragic loss of this day, we also will take the opportunity to celebrate Dr. Tiller’s life and work and share the ways in which he inspired and touched us all.

Our memories of Dr. Tiller are still quite vivid. Here are a few videos and written profiles that offer a small snapshot of the incredible and brave physician that he was:
Video: Dr. Tiller talks about how he became a provider
Video: Dr. Tiller explains why he continued his work, despite repeated harassment and violence
Video: Voices of Choice, our documentary about pre-Roe abortion providers, featuring Dr. Tiller
Oral history: “I have more to be grateful for than I have to be resentful about.”
Profile: A 1998 portrait of Dr. Tiller 

Five Years Later: Remembering Dr. Tiller

Dr. George TIllerFive years ago, we lost a dear friend, a brilliant and compassionate physician, and a true hero. Dr. George Tiller was murdered at his church by an anti-choice extremist. While we will never fully be able to forget the tragic loss of this day, we also will take the opportunity to celebrate Dr. Tiller's life and work and share the ways in which he inspired and touched us all. Every year, we celebrate abortion providers at our Rashbaum-Tiller Abortion Provider Awards, named for Drs. William Rashbaum and George Tiller. This year, on May 19, we honored two incredible physicians: Dr. Carol Ball received our Rashbaum Award and Dr. Cheryl Chastine the Tiller Award. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Anna Quindlen gave the keynote speech, alongside President/CEO Jodi Magee, Board Chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood, founding member and 2010 Rashbaum Award recipient Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, Trust Women founder Julie Burkhart, and Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota CEO Sarah Stoesz. The evening's speeches featured moving remembrances of Dr. Tiller and Dr. Rashbaum and rousing tributes to abortion providers everywhere. Read a Storify of the evening's Twitter feed here. RT14GroupRT14Group1In advance of the fifth anniversary of Dr. Tiller's murder, Dr. Stanwood spoke to Tara Culp-Ressler of ThinkProgress and MSNBC's Irin Carmon on the topic of clinic violence, abortion provider intimidation, and the future face of abortion providers. Dr. Stanwood says that despite the threats and anti-choice legislation, she is optimistic:
“If there’s a bright spot, it’s that the younger generation gets it. I see a new generation of people that is ready, willing, and becoming able to provide this service.”
Dr. Tiller once said: “Abortion is about women’s hopes, dreams, potential, the rest of their lives. Abortion is a matter of survival for women.” Today, as we do every day, we remember him and his impact on patients’ lives. Read more remembrances: Tribute: Former Physicians board chair Suzanne Poppema, MD, on Dr. Tiller's commitment to his patients and how we can honor his memory Video: From 2012, Physicians board member Willie Parker, MD, MPH, MSc, discusses Dr. Tiller's generosity and kindness on Democracy Now! Video: Dr. Tiller talks about how he became a provider Video: Dr. Tiller explains why he continued his work, despite repeated harassment and violence Video: Voices of Choice, our documentary about pre-Roe abortion providers, featuring Dr. Tiller Oral history: "I have more to be grateful for than I have to be resentful about." Profile: A 1998 portrait of Dr. Tiller

2013 Abortion Provider Awards Presented to Doctors from New Mexico and Chicago

 Two doctors honored for their unwavering commitment to providing reproductive health services

New York, NY—Last night, Physicians for Reproductive Health (Physicians) honored two doctors at its annual Rashbaum-Tiller Awards ceremony:

Actor Martha Plimpton—known for her roles in film and television and as one of the founders of A is For…, an advocacy organization allied with the reproductive health movement—delivered an inspiring keynote address thanking physicians who provide abortions and calling for support of their lifesaving work.

In her introduction, Physicians President and CEO Jodi Magee said: “With this year’s awards we recognize two providers who are remarkable individuals, highly regarded in their professions, and outstanding examples of commitment in their work and advocacy on behalf of women’s health. Indeed, for both of these wonderful physicians, there is virtually no distinction between the three—their lives, their careers, and their advocacy all go hand in hand.”

Eve Espey, MD, MPH, is a former Physicians board member currently serving as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Associate Dean of Students, and Family Planning Division Chief at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Espey is a nationally recognized expert in the field of long-acting reversible contraception and is dedicated to reducing unintended pregnancy through the increased use of contraceptives. “In places like New Mexico, barriers are magnified, hurdles are higher and challenges are more daunting,” said Dr. Espey while accepting her award from Dr. Linda Prine, last year’s Rashbaum Award winner. “When I am sitting bruised in my chair in the ring, from threats from Operation Rescue, from opposition in the hospital…. [I’m reminded] there is no more important work than helping women realize their potential through access to reproductive health care.

Willie Parker, MD, MPH, MSc, accepted the George Tiller, MD, Abortion Provider Award, from Dr. Douglas Laube, Physicians’ current board chair and Dr. Parker’s professor in residency.  For several years, Dr. Parker, a Physicians board member, has traveled extensively to provide abortions to women in underserved areas with the most restrictive laws. On accepting his award, Dr. Parker remarked, “We who provide abortions do so because our patients need us, and that’s what we are supposed to do: respond to the needs of our patients. I think that Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel said it best: ‘Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately.’”

Martha Plimpton gave an impassioned speech celebrating providers and their work to break down barriers to comprehensive reproductive health care access. Ms. Plimpton emphasized the importance of speaking out on reproductive rights, reproductive justice, and on behalf of these providers: “Shame is not an option. Silence is unacceptable.” 

Dr. George Tiller: Remembering a Hero

Dr. George TillerFour years ago today, Dr. George Tiller was murdered in his church in Wichita, Kansas, because he provided abortions. Dr. Tiller was one of the nation’s few providers of later abortions. For many years, anti-choice extremists targeted him, his staff, and his patients. When he was killed, we lost a gifted physician, a dear colleague, and a model of compassion and caring. Today we share these remembrances of Dr. Tiller and his impact on patients’ lives: Tribute: Former Physicians board chair Suzanne Poppema, MD, on Dr. Tiller's commitment to his patients and how we can honor his memory Video: From 2012, Physicians board member Willie Parker, MD, MPH, MSc, discusses Dr. Tiller's generosity and kindness on Democracy Now! Video: Dr. Tiller talks about how he became a provider Video: Dr. Tiller explains why he continued his work, despite repeated harassment and violence Video: Voices of Choice, our documentary about pre-Roe abortion providers, featuring Dr. Tiller Oral history: "I have more to be grateful for than I have to be resentful about." Profile: A 1998 portrait of Dr. Tiller