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Recent Violence Spurs Remembrance of Tiller Murder

Doctor was murdered by extremist in 2009, rhetoric only more violent today

RICHMOND, VA – As the country continues to hope for the recovery of the third victim of a knife attack in Portland, Oregon last Friday, the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood (VLPP) issued a brief statement on the 8th anniversary of Dr. George Tiller’s murder. A physician who provided critical reproductive health care, Dr. Tiller was gunned down in a church in Wichita, Kansas in 2009.

“There is a tragic history in our country of unhinged people taking violent action against those who somehow threaten their narrow or xenophobic vision of what America is,” said Paulette McElwain, CEO of VLPP. “As we mourn the loss of two brave victims in Oregon, we send out our thoughts and prayers in support of family, friends and colleagues who have lost loved ones to hate-inspired violence, including our departed champion, Dr. George Tiller.”

Tiller cared for women having to make some of the most difficult decisions a woman can make,  including late-term abortion services. He was continually harassed by abortion opponents for much of his career — his clinic was burned down; before the 2009 shooting, he was injured when shot by a health center protester in 1993; and several times he was the subject of unfair prosecution.

“Though he was not a Planned Parenthood provider, Dr. Tiller reminds us of the simple and steadfast courage of those who work for us,” said McElwain. “We will always be grateful for his heroic legacy and for the inspiration he has provided for abortion providers across America.”

McElwain’s statement continues: “The kind of intimidation and violence Dr. Tiller faced has only increased in the years since he was murdered and it threatens those who seek to provide safe, legal reproductive health services to women and families in need.”

“In the current highly-contentious cultural environment, rhetoric this is infused with implied violence has been amplified. It is important to remember that, while advocates may disagree strongly on points of policy, violence is never the answer to resolving these disputes.”

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The Virginia League for Planned Parenthood (VLPP) provides high-quality, affordable reproductive health care, education programs, and outreach to over four million people in the Commonwealth. VLPP is committed to ensuring reproductive freedom and reproductive health services through health centers it operates in Richmond, Hampton, and Virginia Beach.