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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Dr. George Tiller

The evangelical anti-choice movement speaks in terms of life and death, of war. They instigate exactly this sort of tragedy. I fail, at times like these, to see the real difference between the evangelical anti-choice leadership, such as Operation Rescue, and the KKK. They intimidate, both speak in religious terms, both want to oppress, and both are willing to kill for their beliefs.

I hope other doctors, in honor of this man, take a second look at their willingness to practice medicine for women with some backbone.


Nancy said...

Operation Rescue has taken their website offline. They have also removed all their Tiller Watch content from their website. Why isn't the media reporting this? If Operation Rescue had nothing to do with this murder why did they remove their website? The media, and the government should be investigating Operation Resuce!

Anonymous said...

People who kill others. To save life. What a joke. It should be the woman's choice. And for those of you who would kill to take that right away, you are a HYPOCRITE!

Andrea said...

While I don't condone the murder of this man, this doctor killed children for a living. If you have no idea what a late term abortion is, look it up. You can not justify delivering all but a baby's heads and shoving scissors into it's skull as a woman's right. No matter how you spin it, that is murder. So who's life has more value? The doctor's or the children he killed? I find it ironic that this man had children and grandchildren. Wonder how his wife really feels about abortion when she looks into her children's and grandchildren's faces.

I do not believe in abortion, but if it must be legal, then it should be legal ONLY throw the first trimester while it is still a lump of tissue. After that, NO WAY.
And let me tell you as far as taking a life to save a life? Be a threat to one of my children and see what happens to you.

Freeman said...

Andrea -

You're saying you don't condone what happened to him, but in the same few sentences, you implicitly condone his murder. It's sickening.

If you're against murder on firm principle, and you broadly define this medical procedure as murder, you become a hypocrite instantly by finding certain kinds of murder even semi defensible. How is it less murder to kill to defend "your own children" than it is to end a pregnancy? Murdering the already born, I guess, is more understandable to you than "murdering" a fetus who has yet to take a single breath? What possible sense can you make of that?

Dilation and extraction may not be a beautiful procedure, but it's already rare, and and a difficult decision for anyone to make. When you, or a loved one, are in the position to make the decision about what to do with a late term pregnancy, I hope you'll have the right to make the decision for yourself. Right now, if you don't believe in it, you don't have to have an abortion of this type. No one is forcing you. Why would you force others to fall in line with your beliefs? Especially if your beliefs are reactionary, ill-informed, inconsistent, and oppressive?

Speaking about how this man's wife feels when she looks at her own children and grandchildren is particularly disgusting. Her husband was terrified, hounded, and killed by people who share your beliefs. Their children and grandchildren LOST their father and grandfather because of "pro-life" hardliners. How can you honestly pretend to sympathize with her or them? You should be ashamed of yourself.

There's no spin here. This doctor was killed because he practiced medicine in a way consistent with his own beliefs and the principles of his profession.

Anonymous said...

I am pleased to read your comments regarding the similarities between anti-abortion groups and organizations like the KKK. I am a political consultant or as my family in West Virginia like to kid an outside agitator. I have worn many hats over the years including providing security consulting for women's clinics and providers while working for The Fund for the Feminist Majority.This was when I met Dr. Tiller, who was a brave and wonderful man.
I once had a job "observing" groups like the KKK for a joint project for Simon Wiesenthal Center and the ACLU Center for Reproductive Rights. The purpose was to accurately determine how many members of anti-abortion groups were also involved with, for lack of a better term, anti-everybody but themselves organizations. The numbers were in the high 80's percentage range. The same names came up again and again. I must admit we expected crossover involvement, but the actual situation shocked the most experienced fighters for social justice amoung us. I realize that some readers of this may believe I am exaggerating, I wish I was.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that he should have been murdered, but this "doctor" killed many innocent babies. Those who think an unborn child is just a lump of tissue or not a living being need to go back to biology class! And with regard to it being a woman's choice, spare me. If you made the choice to have unprotected sex, then you need to live with the consequences. In this day and age, there are so many ways to protect from unwanted pregnancies, yet you always hear the excuses why the person had unprotected sex. I know, I know, next you say what about the cases of rape and incest? That is what the police and ER are for...AND, the percentages of abortions performed as a result of rape and incest are so incredibly low, compared to the abortions done because the woman had unprotected sex. Face it, abortion is murder, and murder is wrong! Read up on the law and see how many stories you find on unborn children being counted as a human being--Lacey Peterson comes to mind. They charged Scott with two counts of murder--one for Lacey, and one for the unborn baby. Read the papers and you will see stories of pregnant women killed in hit-and-runs, or car accidents, because of a drunk driver. The perpetrators are always charged with two counts, one for the mother, and one for the UNBORN baby! So Freeman, you say that nobody is forcing Andrea to have an abortion. But nobody was forcing most of these women who choose to have an abortion to practice unsafe sex. And the principles of his profession mention not ONE WORD about taking lives...ever heard of the hippocratic oath? Read again at how Tiller manipulated records in order to justify 3rd-term abortions. I think he was a sick man who enjoyed torturing innocent babies. He is no different than Hitler in my opinion.

Ken A. said...

Andrea, while your views on abortion are justly yours and there is absolutely nothing legally wrong with having those views, there is also nothing legally wrong with late term abortions in that state. There are however a number of the most strictly enforced laws that were broken when that disgusting coward shot the DOCTOR in a CHURCH. No one is threatening your children, and if YOU read more about late term abortions and got your own head out of religious doctrine, you would know that there are extremely valid health reasons at many times that a late term abortion is ABSOLUTELY necessary for the health of the mother. This doctor was the only one left that was willing to save mother's lives. You should be disgusted that a man ended THAT life.

Freeman said...

Dear Anonymous Poster who thinks someone just shot Hitler but doesn't condone it.

Abortion is not murder. Murder is murder.

Anonymous said...

I don't support making abortion illegal unless it is submitted to a vote and thus made so, but I think calling on others to honor a man who - in the end - killed babies is more than a little ridiculous. One can argue whether a fetus is a life or not but that is just a liar's game to cover the desired end result. If someone wants to kill their own baby, let them but let us not lie about what they are doing.

These religious nuts are no worse than the anti-religious nuts who want to tell you what you can eat or what animals you can kill and there is logic - good logic - in what they do despite what people say. Many people who are against abortion are FOR the death penalty and there is no conflict because one is the killing of an innocent and the other the killing of the guilty. I can see that and so can anyone with eyes and ears. That doesn't mean one has to agree with it but it is NOT hypocrisy. Not even close to hypocrisy.

One dead baby killer isn't worth crying over for me nor will the execution or imprisonment of his killer be something I would give a damn about. If you get all heated about someone killing a baby killer you are a fool.

Anonymous said...

Re-read my post, Freeman...I never said it was okay to murder this man who claims to be a doctor. And yes, abortion IS murder. Look it up on line...

1: the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the DEATH of the embryo or fetus.

Since you appear uneducated on this, here is what happens:

Third trimester abortions are generally accomplished with the same basic procedures used in the second trimester. However, because the babies being killed are larger and more likely to survive the procedures, modifications are made. For example, because her child is larger, the mom's cervix must be dilated more than it would be in a second trimester abortion. Additionally, chemicals that are used to soften the baby and make it easier to pull apart and remove are administered in larger a quantity. They are also given earlier so they have a longer time to soak into the baby's tissue and bone. As for avoiding "The Dreaded Complication" (live birth), babies killed during the third trimester are more likely to be given feticidal drugs and they are given them in greater dosages.
...This method is also known as D&X (dilation and extraction) or partial-birth abortion. When this procedure is used in the third trimester, the abortionist maneuvers the baby into a breech position (feet first) and then pulls the baby out of the uterus up to its head – leaving the baby’s head just inside of the uterus. It is not at all uncommon for the baby to still be alive at this point. Now the abortionist pushes a long pair of scissors into the base of the baby's skull and creates a hole. He then inserts a suction tube into the hole and sucks out the baby's brain. This modification to the intact D&E procedure insures that the baby is not born alive, and it helps make the head smaller so that it is easier to pull out of the uterus.

So yes, he took the life of a living being, many of them, in fact. There is no question about it. For someone with your supposed education, you certainly are not that bright. Opinionated, yes, but bright, not so much.

And, by the way, "Brooklyn based" at the top of your blog should be hyphenated. Better go back to school, dude!

Freeman said...

You used about 9 words to express dismay at the assassination ("I don't agree that he should have been murdered") and the rest of your over 300 word comment to detail why he is no different from Hitler, why you believe that abortion is murder, and why you believe Dr. Tiller was a "sick" man who "liked to torture innocent babies."

You're clearly condemning Scott Roeder's murder of Dr. Tiller. A murder which took place inside the foyer of Dr. Tiller's church, with his wife sitting in the pews.

You also clearly see how rhetoric like yours inspired Roeder's crimes.

I can't imagine why I got the wrong impression.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm, you simply have no way to tap dance around my comments....again, opinionated, yes, bright? Not so much...

I rest my case...and don't forget to fix that hyphen!

David D. said...

Dear Anonymous Man Who Knows His Hyphens and His Hitlers: "Reread" has no hypen, and "online" is one word, not two.

As you seem to want to score righteous points on the most important matters at hand, typos, I thought I would engage you on that level.

Freeman said...

As always, Dave is the only one with a copy of Strunk & White around.

Of course, E.B. White was an authority on dilation and extraction.

David D. said...

He also used his elipsises incorrectly, but, you know, you have to let some things go.

Anonymous said...

David D, before you go correcting people on their style of grammar, perhaps you should have proofread your own. I did not know that "hypen" was a word, and you spelled "elipsises" wrong. It is spelled "ellipsises."

Additionally, re-read DOES have a hyphen--see here: http://www.correctpunctuation.co.uk/punctuation-hyphen.htm

And if you have Strunk & White around, perhaps you should re-read it and instruct your buddy Freeman that "Brooklyn based" should be hyphenated. Oh, or maybe it was you who proofed his blog in the first place....in that case, RE-READ your grammar books, dude!

Oh, and re online, yes, it is one word. It was a spacing issue when I typed in my comments...

Now go get those grammar books out, you youngsters, and fix that blog right!

Freeman said...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present, the Internet: the only place to watch a discussion about the brutal murder of a heroic doctor descend into a petty debate about typos.

Anonymous, I hope you have a lovely rest of your day, speaking out against women's rights, defending domestic terrorism and instigating political violence from your home computer.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please, get over yourself!

You are just upset because you got a well-deserved spanking on your own blog! There, there...now run along to your momma, who made the choice to bring you into the world instead of having someone like Tiller butcher you.

I will have a good rest of the day, thank you very much! And the last time I checked, there was no political violence going on here. It is simply an exchange of opinions...isn't that what a free America is all about?

Cheerio, chap! It's a wonderful life!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and one more thing--don't forget to put that hyphen in your introduction! LOL!!!!

Carry on, Freeeeeeee man!

Debra J.M. Smith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Debra, thank you so much for your so eloquently put comments! You have said it all!

Amen, sister!

Freeman said...

I've deleted the above post because it has a link to a website that I don't endorse.

Anonymous said...

Well, you didn't have to delete the entire post, did you? You could have just deleted the link. You just can't take the truth, can you Freeman?


Oh, appropriate picture you have of yourself, too!

Where's that other anonymous poster? Wonder what he would have to say?

Freeman said...

I actually can only delete the entire post, which caused me exactly no concern. This isn't a public forum, it's my personal space, and I've been more than generous with it.

I've just adjusted the settings so Anonymous posting will not be permitted. It's never been necessary before, but I think if you're going to promote violence and defend murder, you should have the courage to put your name on it.

Freeman said...

I find it chilling that anyone's response, even that of a fervent anti-abortion activist, would be to continue to attack Dr. Tiller after his death. It's heartless.

This type of rhetoric, time and time again, has instigated terror and murder. As shown above, life and death to those on this side have the weight of buzz words. When an actual person is murdered, a living, breathing person; the result is distant and sophomoric. The commenter above actually wrote "LOL" as if he were a person in the 7th Grade (let's hope he is), texting his friends.

The "Abortion Debate" is actually besides the point. Dr. Tiller was murdered because there are people in the United States that believe disagreeing with them makes someone worthy of assassination.

If you don't agree with abortion, you have the right to that belief. You can choose never to have one yourself. In fact, you can do whatever you choose, and hold any belief you see fit. Your view doesn't even have to make sense. If you say to yourself "I think abortions should only be performed after sundown," that's really up to you. There's nothing the limits your ability to invent meaning for yourself, and to commit to that meaning with all your heart.

All of that is fine. The Pro-Choice side makes room for all of this. Pro-Choice says "Make meaning, make choices, be free to view potential life as you see fit, and act according to your own principles."

There's really only one thing that Pro-Choice doesn't allow for: the persecution of those who don't think one uniform way about abortion. It says "No" only to hate speech, paternalism, and the murder of the already born.

The anonymous commenter finds little tragedy in the violent enforcement of his beliefs. He's more interested in his theory about what constitutes murder than in an actual murder.

What about those very beliefs that the anonymous commenter uses to condemn Dr. Tiller?

It would be intellectually dishonest of anyone to claim that dilation and extraction isn't controversial and heart-breaking. Those women who have been through it often express regret. Some of them find themselves choosing the procedure because they've had to weigh some choices no man could understand, or has the right to comment on here.

That's what made Dr. Tiller so extraordinary. He looked a procedure like this, and took the hardest possible stance. He was willing to be a physician to women in a time of awful distress and great need, when others turned away in disgust. And he was willing to do so at great personal, and in the end mortal, risk.

The fact that women are still able to have the procedure at all, safely and legally, is a testament to the continuing will of good sense over fear. Dr. Tiller represented that goodness, that will to do what was right despite intimidation and threat.

Abortion is not, as a fact, undeniably murder. Murder is only undeniably so in a case like Dr. Tiller’s: one living, sentient person kills another living, sentient person by choice.

A living person (as in the case of Terry Schiavo) can be essentially dead in every way except that breath is pumped through her by machines. Euthanasia isn't a settled matter for many people. Should we shoot all Doctor's that honor medical directives and DNRs?

There are those of us that believe that before a child is actually born, it simply has...well... not yet been born.

There are some of us that fall somewhere in the middle. Who don't like the idea of abortion, but would defend any woman's right to have one.

In short, each of us views when life begins in a different way. The enforcement of one philosophy about this, at the point of a gun, is simply wrong. This is an essential human right. This is a question of free thought and of free will.

If you truly oppose abortion, there's only one proven way to reduce them: sex education and contraception. Find some way to channel your beliefs into rational, positive way to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. But please, spare us the hate speech. It has caused enough damage.

Joshua James said...

I'm late to this, but I agree completely with you, Matthew.

It always sickens me when someone says, "Tiller was a mass murderer!"

It's an incorrect statement. If he was a murderer, why isn't he in jail? It's against the law to murder, right?

Not only was he not in jail, he wasn't arrested.

Same for the "baby-killer" tag. It is against the law to kill babies, therefore if he was killing babies, then he should have been arrested and put in jail.

He wasn't, ergo, he wasn't a baby-killer and he wasn't a murderer.

Because according to law, abortion wasn't and isn't murder, it isn't killing, it's a medical procedure deemed necessary in some contexts and situations.

If it's wrong, and he is killing babies and murdering, then the issue should not be with him, but with the people who ruled the procedure is legal and necessary (and it is). The fact that one doctor is targeted and terrorized only speaks to the weakness of the arguments of those who stand against the issue.

But let's be CLEAR. He was not a murderer, he was not a baby-killer ... if he WAS, he would have been put in jail, because murder is illegal, killing is illegal.

Therefore whatever the Doctor was doing, since it wasn't illegal, it wasn't murder and it wasn't killing.

Now if your argument is that it isn't illegal but it SHOULD BE, then again, your issue should not be Dr Tiller but those who decide what is legal and what is not.

What IS murder? Shooting elderly MDs to death while they're attending church. That's murder, that's killing, that's against the law and horrible.

There was a post up somewhere (I forget, it may have been at Balloon Juice) about a heartbroken couple who found out, at 8 months, that the fetuses she was carrying were co-joined twins, co-joined in such a way that they would not survive once born. They went to Kansas, met with Dr Tiller who guided them through a very traumatic and yet necessary procedure.

There are hundreds of cases where the procedure was necessary to save the life of the mother, etc. There are decisions made like that in hospitals, other contexts, with regard to other situations, every day.

The "baby-killer" cry is propaganda stirred up by a fundie political movement that cares not about people, cares not about babies or children once they are born ... they only care about themselves and their own political power. It's sickening, it really is.

And reading the cowards who post anonymously just adds to the ill.

Just my opinion, of course.

Andrea said...

Saving the life of the mother I almost can understand. However, regardless how you look at it, it IS killing babies. If you think otherwise you need to retake your biology class again.

I also can accept that in some cases it may be necessary. Fine. But abortion is not used as a medically necessary procedure anymore. It has become a form of birth control where the so called mother can do away with her responsibility.

Further, the good doctor that you are defending used a doctor in his own practice for his second opinions when he should have used an independent one that was not on his payroll. Smell fish yet?

Fact is, while the doctor may have been a good old boy who loved his family, he still killed babies for a living. There is no way to dispute that, whether it is legal or not.

Roe vs Wade should be called babies vs law.

Joshua James said...

Andrea, I'm gonna fisk you, okay?

"Saving the life of the mother I almost can understand. However, regardless how you look at it, it IS killing babies. If you think otherwise you need to retake your biology class again."

So basically you're okay with killing babies if it saves the life of the mother (although you use the word "almost" so maybe you're judging hedging your bets, saying you understand when you really do not, but don't want to sound mean to women who have to choose between dying while giving birth or terminating a pregnancy, which is what I think you're doing).

I have taken many a biology class, most of which used words like fetus, etc, along with baby. A procedure like abortion it was called terminating a pregnancy.

Killing babies is against the law. Terminating a pregnancy is NOT (though it is, AND SHOULD BE, regulated).

Since Tiller was never arrested for killing babies, which we know is against the law, ergo he wasn't killing babies- what part of that logic is failing you? He wasn't breaking the law.

"I also can accept that in some cases it may be necessary. Fine. But abortion is not used as a medically necessary procedure anymore. It has become a form of birth control where the so called mother can do away with her responsibility."

Okay, so if I accept your argument that abortion is "killing babies" (and I do not) here in this section you come out that you are actually fine with killing babies when it's necessary.

Okay - so what are we disagreeing about? Why are you shouting murder and baby-killer when you yourself believe that the procedure is sometimes necessary?

Isn't that hypocritical? Because to my ear, it is.

Latter part of the paragraph - "But abortion is not used as a medically necessary procedure anymore. It has become a form of birth control where the so called mother can do away with her responsibility.""

You're basing this on WHAT, exactly?

You've all but admitted that there are some situations wherein it might be medically necessary - then you claim that abortions AREN'T USED with those medically necessary situations!

First of all you have no evidence to back that claim (it's ONLY used as birth control, not when medically necessary) and it's ridiculous on the front of it - abortion is available and used by those slutty types to dumb to use a condom, but we don't let mothers whose health and life is in jeopardy use abortions because it's wrong for them.

That WHOLE claim you made is ridiculous.

And you're insulting women with the "so-called" mother tag.

"Further, the good doctor that you are defending used a doctor in his own practice for his second opinions when he should have used an independent one that was not on his payroll. Smell fish yet?"

Uh, don't get any fishy smell from that, nope. I know a lawyer who regularly goes to one of her partners for a second opinion on tricky matters - it's not fishy, it's called dotting Is and crossing Ts, it's what smart people do with complex problems, they get second opinions from other smart people they trust. It's SOP in most all educated fields except, obviously, the one you work in.

Joshua James said...

I wanted to continue the fisk of Andrea's ridiculous post - here we go:

"Fact is, while the doctor may have been a good old boy who loved his family, he still killed babies for a living. There is no way to dispute that, whether it is legal or not."

It's been disputed, all the way to the Supreme Court and found to be NOT killing babies, which is illegal, and found to be a tough but sometimes necessary medical procedure that is legal - seeing as that you agree with that, as you mention above, even you dispute it. So you're in favor of "baby-killing" when you think it's necessary, but not when you don't.

"Roe vs Wade should be called babies vs law."

Except when grownups talk, then no. It's a lot more complicated than that.

And can I add that it PISSES me off that so many people are worked up about this but don't care about babies once they're born, don't care that over a million children live in hunger in America, millions more don't have health care, and many babies die after they're born in America because they don't get proper medical treatment due to lack of health insurance and medical availability. We're like a third world country once babies are born!

If you REALLY gave a shit about babies, you'd be talking about that. A lot. Now if you are, I apologize ... but you haven't brought it up. Our flawed health care system and private insurance industry has been directly linked to the deaths of many babies ... where's the anger about that?

babies vs the law ... give me a break! Like you care!

If you want MORE background on this, and some of the people who had to go to Tiller for health reasons and why, and why I think your position is unethical, check out conservative John Cole at Balloon Juice ...


You'll find more fact based claims there.

he's a fan of Andrew Sullivan, btw, and takes issue with Andrew's stance on the subject, and so it's not a couple of liberals talking.

Or don't, I don't care. It seems you're more interested in promoting your own hypocritical (it's necessary when I think it's necessary, but it's still killing babies and should be outlawed everywhere) propaganda and as such I can't see you going to read other views.

jengordonthomas said...

I read your blog occasionally, Matt...because I'm a theatre artist & because I know you, and we run in some of the same circles. Where did all these "anonymous" people come from all of a sudden? Perhaps I underestimated the wide-reaching scope of your blog! My bad!
Can it be that there are people out there, "anonymous" people, who troll the internet doing searches for text regarding "Dr. Tiller" & "abortion" just to tell you how wrong you are? My gosh! I barely have the time to get my laundry done these days, much less be on morality patrol.