UCC justice leader decries Tiller murder

UCC justice leader decries Tiller murder

May 31, 2009
Written by Gregg Brekke

Sandy Sorensen, the UCC's Washington-based Justice and Witness Ministries minister and team lead, has issued a statement regarding the killing of Dr. George Tiller. Tiller was one of the few doctors in the nation to provide late-term abortions, and one of only two abortion providers in Kansas.

While motive has not yet been established in the Tiller case, his death marks the fourth such slaying of a doctor on suspected causes of disagreement with their practice of providing abortions or other reproductive health services since the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973.

Sorensen reaffirmed the UCC's commitment to comprehensive women's health care, including "the full range of reproductive health care services regardless of their circumstances."

Sorensen's full statement is below. Further resources on women's reproductive justice can be found at <rcrc.org>.

We are shocked and deeply saddened over the murder of Dr. George Tiller, gunned down in his church on Sunday morning in Wichita, Kansas. Our heartfelt prayers, thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Dr. Tiller's family and friends.

Dr. Tiller dedicated his life to providing high quality, compassionate and vital reproductive health care services to women in great medical need, often in the most difficult and heart-breaking situations. He was one of only a very few doctors to provide medically indicated late-term abortions, even in the face of frequent threats, lawsuits and acts of violence committed against him and the clinic he served, Women's Health Care Services.

Dr. Tiller's death is a profound loss to the community in which he faithfully lived and served, the patients who relied on him for the care they could not receive elsewhere, his courageous and dedicated staff, and the community of medical professionals who provide vital reproductive health care services to women across the country.

Dr. Tiller was a man of conscience and faith, dedicated to the health and healing of women. That he was murdered during Sunday services in his church, a sanctuary of worship and prayer, is an affront to people of faith everywhere. This act of extreme violence in a religious space is extremely troubling and reminds us of the potential for religion to be used as a basis for acts of hatred and violence.

While the motive of Dr. Tiller's killer is not yet completely clear, there is no doubt that it sends a message of fear to health care providers and the women they serve. They stand in need of our prayers and support in this challenging time. As people of faith, we cannot remain silent in the midst of words and acts of violence.

The United Church of Christ General Synod has repeatedly affirmed the right of women to the full range of reproductive health care services regardless of their circumstances. In the context of several Synod resolutions, it has encouraged individual members and congregations to support women in following their moral discernment and religious convictions related to their lives and decisions about the completion or termination of a pregnancy. 

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