Dr. Tiller performed a 2nd term abortion on my wife in 1995.
Dr. Tiller and his staff were wonderful – competent, caring, pleasant, kind and refreshingly normal, despite working in a fortified bunker. The contrast with the rude madness of the wrath-besotted protestors outside the clinic could not have been more greater.
I was attending a theological seminary at the time, and in conversation with Dr. Tiller discovered that we belonged to the same denomination (ELCA–Lutheran). In the midst of his medical duties – the clinic was full, and most of the patients quite young – Dr. Tiller would occasionally say something about how his vocation and his faith worked together.
While I do not recall exactly what was said, what I do remember is the impression that his faith greatly sustained him in his work. That the circumstances of death threats and the other evils to which he and his family were subjected had taken him in the manner of many biblical figures to ask of God, “Why me?” And that the answer God had given him was that he was doing something necessary and good – noble even – but that doing the right thing is not always easy.
I think many of us would have given up, moved away, changed jobs… done anything to remove ourselves from the harassment, hassles and hatred. But I think Dr. Tiller saw through these lies to a greater truth. I think his deep roots in his place on earth – Wichita, Kansas – helped him. And I believe that his belief in a God of love and compassion helped him respond heroically to the fear and pain that surrounded him – both inside the clinic and outside, at its gates.
Dr. Tiller was murdered by hate. I think he was also martyred, witnessing to his faith in God of love.Sometimes our religious or moral beliefs require that an abortion be performed. Judaism, even in its most Orthodox form, gets this -- it sounds like some Christians get it as well.