Another Memory of Visiting Dr. Tiller

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
June 2 2009 9:19 AM

Another Memory of Visiting Dr. Tiller

A second friend recalls her visit to Dr. George Tiller's clinic :

In July 1993, my husband and I received the worst news about our son's impending birth: He suffered from multiple, severe fetal anomalies, both internal and external, thought to be the result of a rare blood disorder. If he could survive his early birth at 24 weeks he most likely would not survive his blood cancer beyond the age of 9.

After several years of trying to conceive our second child, the news could not have been more devastating. When we heard the news, I had been in Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC for more than two weeks, hooked up to a subcutaneous pump delivering a medication to stop contractions. While still reeling from the shock, we were told we could take our chances and let the baby be born, but that the state would be forced to intervene if we did not then take every measure to keep our son alive. Or, we could consider two late-term abortion clinics-one in Wichita, Kan., the other in Holland! Our initial thoughts were "how could we be in a major NYC hospital in the United States and be told these are our only choices?" To say it was surreal is an understatement.

We made the very painful decision to travel to Wichita after many sleepless, tear-filled hours of discussion. The "quality" of life our son would have had, and the effects this birth could have had on our family for years to come, brought us to that difficult road. I could never explain to anyone how it felt to travel six hours with my baby kicking, knowing that I was about to end the life we tried so lovingly to create. While my husband lived this nightmare with me, even he could not understand or experience the depths of despair that I felt. The scars are still there.

My husband and I found Dr. George Tiller to be a caring, sensitive, and compassionate man who truly believed he was helping those of us who were desperate and had nowhere else to go. While we were at his clinic, he was very concerned about an 11-year-old child raped by her stepfather. And, when we were tormented by Operation Rescue protesters outside his clinic, he put on a bullet proof vest and personally drove us out of there while we hid in his van.

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You can read other tales from inside Tiller's clinic here and here .

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones