Thursday evening, 8 men and 6 women were seated for the jury in the trial of Scott Roeder, accused of assassinating Dr. George Tiller in the foyar of his church on May 31, 2009. Friday morning, there will be a few more motions before the jury is sworn in and opening statements begin. For the past several months, we have waited for this day.
This trial starts on an auspicious day. Friday is the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It is the day pro-choice activists celebrate the recognition of women's right to choose in their pregnancies. Abortion is one of the ways in which women are empowered to participate in society (though the Roe decision is far more than just abortion). Though since Dr. Tiller died, thousands of women in Kansas have lost that part of our empowerment. Of our 105 counties, only two counties have abortion clinics, both in the extreme northeast. Women in western Kansas already faced a difficult and long journey to Wichita, one they likely couldn't afford on top of the cost of the medical procedure, and they must now travel even more. While we celebrate the recognition of our right to choose, we are also faced with the cold, sad reality that we in Kansas have quite limited access to it. I am feeling today much as I did on May 31st: angry and sad.
Dr. Tiller was a wonderful man. Committed to helping women, he spent years standing up to foes who threatened him, his employees, and others in the community. Dr. Tiller trusted women; he listened to their needs and provided abortions when few others would. He was many things for many people, but most of us on this blog, he was our friend.