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An outdoor vigil scheduled this evening in Columbia to honor the memory of Dr. George Tiller who was gunned down in his church, allegedly by a disturbed anti-abortion zealot, was brought indoors due to rain and thunderstorms. There were approximately thirty-five individuals in attendance, and an additional ten people representing the press.

A number of individuals spoke of their personal experience with Dr. Tiller – as a family member of a patient in difficult circumstances, as colleagues, and as activists advocating for women’s choice.

As the speakers in turn helped fill out the portrait of Dr. Tiller, he became much less the abstract story – as portrayed by the media and as vilified by those in opposition to him – and assumed his rightful aura as a complex human being, with friends, family, with acts of kindness and humility and caring, working and fighting, sometimes with defiance, for what he believed in.

Constantly dehumanizing someone in life makes it so much easier to ignore or dismiss their death at the hands of another. Learning parts of the story of that person’s humanity after their senseless death makes any attempt at comprehending the insanity of it all impossible.  

The program from the vigil:

Honoring the Life and Memory of Dr. George Tiller

August 8, 1941 – May 31, 2009

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Opening Remarks – Michelle Trupiano…

Personal Remarks

Diane Booth

Phillip Wood

State Representative Mary Still

Sean Spence

Vicky Riback Wilson

Closing Remarks -Bonnie Trickey and Helen Anthony…

Dr. Tiller’s murder is an enormous loss for our movement and for women and their families across America. He provided abortions to women late in their pregnancies and under some of the most difficult medical circumstances. Dr. Tiller had been harassed by abortion opponents for much of his career – his clinic was burned down, he was shot in both arms by an abortion protestor, and he was recently targeted for investigation by Phil Kline in Kansas, with a jury acquittal coming just a few months ago. None of this stopped George Tiller from his commitment to providing women and their families with abortion care that others were unwilling to offer.

Michelle Trupiano (left) speaks at the start of the vigil.

Former Missouri State Representative Vicky Riback Wilson (center left), Missouri State Representative Mary Still (center right), Sean Spence (right).