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Center for Reproductive Rights Deeply Saddened by Murder of Dr. George Tiller
Date:5/31/2009

to turn state mechanisms like the court system into a tool of harassment against Dr. Tiller.

In the United States, women's rights to health, life, and dignity include a constitutional right to abortion. These rights cannot be fulfilled unless medical professionals are able to provide abortion and other related services free of violence and harassment by public and private actors. For this reason, the U.N. Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders has recognized those who promote women's right to sexual and reproductive health as women's human rights defenders. She also identified healthcare providers as human rights defenders where those individuals faced great risk in working to promote the rights of others.

I. Persistent Attacks Against Dr. Tiller

A. Attacks on Physical Security

On August 19, 1993, an anti-abortion extremist attempted to assassinate Dr. Tiller, shooting him in both arms. Demonstrating remarkable courage, he not only survived the attack but returned to the clinic to provide services the following day. This attack fits into a long history of violence, death threats, and murder of physicians who perform abortions in the United States, undertaken with the express purpose of preventing physicians from providing abortions. Since 1973, three physicians and four clinic workers in the U.S. have been killed by anti-abortion extremists. Five other physicians or clinic workers have been seriously injured in such attacks.

Prior to the shooting, WHCS had been targeted for two years by anti-abortion forces dedicated to closing the clinic at whatever cost. In 1991, an extremist group called Operation Rescue led a six-week siege on WHCS during its "Summer of Mercy" protest in Wichita, which involved numerous blockades of clinic entrances; death threats to doctors who perform abortions; and daily, often violent, protests at abortion clinics. The government did not t
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SOURCE Center for Reproductive Rights
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