The past few days have been hard for anyone who cares about reproductive freedom. The horrific murder of Dr. George Tiller, a compassionate and heroic provider of abortion services, has given us a lot to think about. As we gather our thoughts and our strengths, we at the Duvall Project have looked to our founder, Linn Duvall Harwell, for inspiration. Linn’s mother, Clara Bell Duvall, died from complications of a self-induced abortion in 1929 and she created this organization in her mother’s honor.
Linn’s first reaction to the news was one of surprise, being “shocked to hear of yet one more fatality for doctors who care so much for women.” A long-time advocate for reproductive freedoms, the legality of abortion and the safety of providers has been crucial to Linn throughout her work over the years.
“The death of Dr. George Tiller is a tragedy for all of his family, and for all the women who rely on his compassion and caring for their conditions,” Linn says. “We are talking about saving women’s lives, protecting the family, and protecting those in medicine who do this service for women.”
Linn found President Barack Obama’s speech delivered at Notre Dame especially important to dealing with the issue of abortion, reminding all of us that we need to use “fair-minded words” in all of our discussions. “And that does not mean using a gun. The use of handguns in America is our own national version of terrorism. This is what we have seen in the senseless killing of Dr. George Tiller.” She added that “the minute Barack Obama came forth as a pro-choice president, the violence has begun again and those old wounds are opened.”
Linn believes there are many opportunities for young people to get involved. She mentioned self-educating, especially about sex and sexuality, and sharing that knowledge with others as central to increasing preventative measures. She also wants young people to fight for the issue to be removed from the political arena, as she believes that abortion should stay between a woman and her doctor.
Other important ways of getting involved can be anything from sharing your own story relating to abortion, pushing for comprehensive sex education, escorting at a clinic, or just learning as much as you can about the barriers to reproductive freedom facing people today. Although many people are saying that the movement has become complacent, Linn doesn’t agree at all. Following her lifelong commitment to ensuring reproductive freedoms for all, we hope that this tragedy strengthens our communities and increases our commitment to keeping women and their providers safe.
The Philadelphia vigil for Dr. Tiller will be held in Love Park at 5:30 PM today, Tuesday June 2nd.
Dina in Philadelphia