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Remembering Dr. George Tiller, 10 Years After the Abortion Provider Was Assassinated in Kansas

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Today marks the 10th anniversary of the murder of Dr. George Tiller, a 67-year-old abortion provider who was shot point-blank in the forehead as he attended church services in Wichita, Kansas. He faced constant threats and incidents of violence and vandalism in the decades leading up to his death. The man who assassinated him, anti-choice extremist Scott Roeder, is serving a life sentence. We air a new piece from StoryCorps by Rabbi David Young and cantor Natalie Young, who went to see Dr. Tiller in 2006.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to end, though, today’s show with a piece from StoryCorps about Dr. George Tiller, the abortion provider assassinated 10 years ago today while attending church in Wichita, Kansas. These are the voices of Rabbi David Young and cantor Natalie Young, who went to see Dr. Tiller in 2006.

NATALIE YOUNG: I loved being pregnant. It was an amazing feeling.

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: The ultrasound where we found out that there was something wrong was supposed to be the last thing before going in and delivering a beautiful baby boy.

NATALIE YOUNG: Yeah.

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: And the tech said, “Uh-oh.” I remember them saying that it would be impossible for him to survive outside the womb and that he would likely be brain-dead. It was two horrible choices: having a third-term abortion or have to wait through the last month of pregnancy knowing that we were going to have to give birth to a baby who could not live.

NATALIE YOUNG: Yeah.

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: It would have been torture.

NATALIE YOUNG: Within a couple of days, we were on a plane to Wichita. I remember arriving at Dr. Tiller’s office and having all of these protesters outside. And I felt like this was the last place we wanted to be. I remember us meeting Dr. Tiller, who was so kind and so sorry that we were there.

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: He kept reminding us that nobody wanted to be there.

NATALIE YOUNG: And that it wasn’t our fault.

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: And that it wasn’t our fault.

NATALIE YOUNG: Which I kept needing to hear.

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: He made sure that we knew he had kids of his own and grandkids of his own.

NATALIE YOUNG: And that he was a man of faith.

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: Yeah.

NATALIE YOUNG: And so, to be able to connect in that way, that was really comforting.

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: And I don’t even know if you know that every day when we got back to the hotel and you were sleeping, Dr. Tiller called me to check on you. While we both felt a sense of loss, I think we also felt a sense of gratitude that we could allow Elijah to rest in peace and not have to struggle.

NATALIE YOUNG: When I read about some person shooting Dr. Tiller, I totally freaked out.

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: I think I was in my office, and you called me and told me. And I was stunned.

NATALIE YOUNG: I was so angry. And I thought about other couples who were probably there that week. What were they going to do? How did that change their lives?

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: There’s nothing about this experience that would fit on a picket sign or on a political campaign slogan. It’s way too complicated for that. And every single person has their own unique story, just like ours.

NATALIE YOUNG: Yeah.

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: People he’s helped.

NATALIE YOUNG: I want him to be remembered as a compassionate and courageous man who was there to help people during the darkest times in their lives.

RABBI DAVID YOUNG: He was so deeply needed by so many people.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Rabbi David Young and his wife, cantor Natalie Young, speaking to StoryCorps, remembering Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Wichita, Kansas, who was assassinated 10 years ago today at church. The piece produced by Aisha Turner.

That does it for our show. Today our condolences to our dear colleague, Democracy Now! producer Carla Wells, on the passing of her older brother Richard Eugene Wells Jr. That does it for our broadcast. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks so much for joining us.

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