(Dr. George Tiller)
May 31st is the third anniversary of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller. So far, the people I’ve talked to about this have one of two reactions; either they can’t believe it’s already been three years, or they can’t believe it’s only been three years.
I don’t remember where I was when I heard about Dr. Tiller’s murder, but I do remember what I thought, which is was something along the lines of: Fuck. As in, fuck, where will women in Kansas who need late term abortions (after 20 weeks) go? Fuck, who will want to become an abortion provider now? Fuck, how will we ever win this?
Three years later, here we are, not suddenly, not surprisingly, but certainly in the middle of shit. I don’t think I understand what it would look like to win. I mean, I do-every woman who needs an abortion would be able to get one safely, without any barriers to access. There is so much more to that, of course, because abortion is much more complicated that actually being able to get the procedure. We’re fighting for a concept here, which is that women are people. It’s that which I can’t imagine achieving-what does a world in which women are trusted look like?
Perhaps it’s that my brain and guts are so well trained in the practice of problematization and critique. It always has been. It’s hard for me to see victories as pure and and unqualified, because deep down, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a thing. When Obama was elected, I felt insane joy and relief, but also the knowledge that he would never, in 4 years, be able to reverse the devastation of the Bush years. I love the intellectual framework of feminism and the challenge of intersectionality. That being said, what would I do if it were no longer necessary?
I think I’ve managed to arrive in a place where I understand Dr. Tiller’s death as a call to recalibrate our hope and our indignation. This is not the first time shit has gotten real, and it will not be the last. I don’t like the idea of coming up with reasons for why things like this happen, I don’t like shrinking it down into a digestible, dismissive little package that we can then pretend to be okay with. But we do what we have to do to survive, and sometimes, that means we have to create sense where there isn’t, and shouldn’t be, any. And if it moves us forward, then maybe the little package is the most important tool for revolution.