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Honoring Dr. Tiller: Reflections from Kentucky

Derek Selznick,
ACLU of Kentucky
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June 5, 2009

As a former Planned Parenthood employee, you can count me among the multitude of people who have friends who provide abortions. If I am to be honest, I must admit, since the murder of Dr. Tiller, many of us who advocate for reproductive freedom have been scared for our friends, family, and colleagues. Indeed, in the first days after Dr. Tiller’s death, we had decided to forgo hosting a public vigil. Then on later reflection, we decided the only way to truly honor Dr. Tiller was to come together and proclaim to the world, “We will not cower.” We must stand together in the face of violence.

One of several individuals who spoke to honor and remember Dr. Tiller, Carla Wallace spoke of her times marching for LGBT rights in the midst of death threats. Years later, she and others peacefully protested the presence of the Klu Klux Klan. Through her stories, she reminded us all that violence and terrorism will only triumph if we allow it to silence us.

Dr. Tiller refused to be silenced or stopped by violence. The day after he was shot in 1993, he walked into his clinic and continued his work. We must do the same. We must honor Dr. Tiller, his family, and the women he helped through his decades of service by speaking out and saying, “I will not be afraid.”

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