I know I’m kind of a day late and an hour short on this story, but it’s taken me a couple of days to process. For those of you who have been living under a rock with only sporadic Internet access, Dr. George Tiller, a doctor at the Women’s Health Care clinic in Wichita, Kansas, was murdered in his church on Sunday. As Cristina Page, author of one of my favorite books, writes in an editorial for the Huffington Post, this is the first casualty in the near-inevitable upsurge in domestic terrorism directed at abortion providers in the United States since Barack Obama’s election. Abortion clinics have already experienced huge increases in harassing phone calls (1401 in four months versus 396 in a year in the Bush administration), blockades, stalking, and other tried-and-true tactics that the anti-choice movement uses to intimidate women seeking abortions and those who would provide them.
When I first heard the news on Sunday, I was surprised but not shocked – coming as it does on the heels of the DHS report on the growing danger of right-wing extremism in the country, I had braced myself for the worst. I was angry, certainly, and sad in an abstract way, as one is whenever hearing about someone who’s died, but my attention was mostly focused on monitoring the maelstrom in the progressive blogosphere. I read lots of things I hadn’t known about abortion availability, and the extent to which anti-choice activists will go to get their way, and became increasingly outraged. As I think I have made clear, I feel very strongly that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy is paramount, and those that would campaign to remove it from her get on my shitlist right quick. I started collecting and bookmarking and compiling posts, planning one of my own on the matter. One thing that I noticed in several posts (such as this excellent one from Shakesville) was the mention of personal sorrow on the author’s part – something that I couldn’t really identify with. I mean, I was super-pissed, but heartbroken? Weeping? Not really. It’s not that I’m heartless – on the contrary, I’ve been known to bawl during Disney movies and Buffy season finales without reservation – but I just didn’t feel personally affected by the event. There were some vigils held across the country last night, and I could have gotten to one very easily, but I just didn’t think I’d fit in. I wanted statistics and scathing analysis, not some pseudoreligious sobfest. What would be the point? So I stayed home, and I read some more. (more…)