Posted by CODEPINK Staff
Starhawk does it again.
On Doctor Tiller’s Murder
On the day that Dr. George Tiller was murdered at his church by a right-wing anti-abortionist, I was teaching a women’s natural building course up in the hills where I live. The roses were blooming in lush profusion and twenty beautiful women were on my hilltop sculpting a Goddess bench and weaving a structure out of straw and mud.
Tucked into a wrinkle in the hills, my cabin gets no TV reception and the only radio station that comes through plays Golden Oldies. My internet access is a very slow, archaic dialup. When I’m up here I’m often behind on the news. It seeps in, rather than blaring forth its headlines.
So the news of the murder came through slowly, a phrase caught on the fly while driving my biodiesel pickup down to grab a forgotten tool, another trickle of information as I scan my email, slowly staining a bright day with grief and rage.
“My body is the body of the Goddess,” the women sing as we scrape dust from the earth, itself the greater body of the Goddess, add water, mix mud, clay and sand to build with, as women have done from the beginning of time. Our minds, our hands, our creative bodies and the body of the earth are one.
The murder of Dr. Tiller was an act of terror. Although its immediate victim was a man, it was aimed at women's hearts and minds, designed to shatter our oneness and assert control. And it is part of a larger campaign of terror—if we must throw that word around then let us use it where it truly applies. When the murderer squeezes the trigger, when Bill O’Reilly thunders on Fox News or Randall Terry pontificates, they are sending the same message to women, “Your bodies, your fertility, your sexuality must remain under our control, or you will die, along with anyone who helps you.”
On the day Dr. Tiller was murdered, Governer Schwarzenneger cut funding for the Healthy Families Act, a decision which will likely cost more children’s lives than all the abortions Dr. Tiller ever performed. Yet no one is calling him a murderer.
On the day Dr. Tiller was murdered, millions of refugees in Pakistan huddled in fear of American drone bombers. The graves of children in Iraq are still fresh: mothers in Gaza continue to weep over the hundreds of children murdered in the Israeli assault. Yet the ‘right-to-life’ movement is not agonizing over the blood that covers all our hands.
On the day Dr. Tiller was murdered, uncounted children died from hunger, from lack of access to medical care, from contaminated water. Young boys were dragooned into service as child soldiers; young girls sold into sexual slavery. We could use a true right-to-life movement, one that would champion these children, one that would stand against the greed, the violence, the callousness, the cowardice that murders at a safe distance and kills by hoarding the means of life.
Witches, Pagans, Goddess worshippers have no dogma, no central body that tells us what to believe or what decisions to make. But if there is one belief we all hold in common, it is this: that we are each our own moral and spiritual authority. From women’s power to conceive, profound and sometimes painful choices arise, and we must be free to make those choice for ourselves. To deny women that right is to deny our most basic human agency.
The women in my garden are a mix of ages. Some of us remember the days of secrecy, shame, and back-alley abortions. Most are too young to have ever lived in a world where the right to make their own decisions was in question. Dr. Tiller’s death is a wake-up call to all of us. Women have made great strides in my lifetime, but we are still far from safe and secure in our liberation. May this tragedy unleash a new wave of feminist organizing. May we all get on the phones and online and out in the streets to defend the clinics and the policies that protect our health and our self-determination. May we drown out the hate-mongers with a chorus of voices raised in defense of the wild, lush, ecstatic, and free bodies, hearts and minds of women and men and of our own right to choose what we harbor and what we birth. A strong, revitalized feminist movement will be our real protection from the agents of terror, and our true hope for the generations to come.
And for some positive, practical things you can do:
- Call your local clinic and offer support.
- Consider making a financial donation in memory of Dr. Tiller to Planned Parenthood, to Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, or else to the clinic of your choice. The former two can be accessed here and here
- CREDO/Working Assets is circulating a petition to hold Fox News responsible for Bill O’Reilly’s inflammatory rhetoric. In 28 separate episodes he has targeted Dr. Tiller
More information on the Pagan approach to abortion can be found in:
Starhawk and M. Macha NightMare. The Pagan Book of Living and Dying. San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1997. It includes rituals and prayers around the issue of abortion, as well as personal accounts.