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Public Statements

Remembering Dr. George Tiller

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, 1 year ago this week, Dr. George Tiller, a provider of critical reproductive health services, was shot to death while at church in Wichita, KS. The anniversary of his death serves as a solemn reminder of the violence that reproductive health professionals face today.

Unfortunately, like so many of his colleagues who treat women across this country, Dr. Tiller faced years of constant harassment, intimidation and death threats. These acts of violence eventually culminated in his murder.

We know, however, that Dr. Tiller's murder is not an isolated incident. A pattern of intimidation, threats and violence against reproductive health providers exists in this country and must end.

Since 1993, eight clinic workers have been murdered in the United States. During that time period there have been thousands of reported acts of violence against providers of reproductive health care including bombings, arsons, death threats, kidnappings and assaults. As the Tiller murder demonstrates, we simply cannot tolerate any form of harassment and threats to health care providers and their patients.

I remember clearly 10 years ago tomorrow--May 28, 2000--when the Concord Feminist Health Center in my home State of New Hampshire was the victim of an arson attack. The facility suffered extensive damage, costing tens of thousands of dollars to repair. Thankfully, no one was injured in the attack. It was not merely the cost of the repairs that was so troubling--what was troubling was that this act of hate and intimidation left the community feeling fearful and uncertain. No one should live with that fear and certainly not because they provide critical health care services to women.

I recently heard the story about a reproductive health center director in Colorado who reports that he often wears a bulletproof vest in public. He said: ``I walk out of my office and the first thing I do is look at the parking garage that the hospital built two doors away and see if there is a sniper on the roof. I basically expect to be shot any day. ..... It's a war zone. ..... It's very frightening and it ruins your life''.

Now, I recognize that there is a deep divide on the issue of reproductive freedom. And I recognize that there are many heartfelt feelings on both sides of the aisle and even within my own caucus. But, no matter which side of this debate you are on, we should all be able to agree that violence is never the answer.

So today I urge all my colleagues to join me in condemning the kind of senseless violence that led to the death of Dr. George Tiller.

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