Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tulsa Candle Vigil and Memorial in Honor of Dr. Tiller

Members of the Reproductive Health Coalition of Tulsa have scheduled a candelight vigil and memorial service for the late Dr. George Tiller at 7:30 p.m., Monday, June 8 at Fellowship Congregational Church, 2900 S. Harvard Ave.

The service, which will pay tribute to the life of Dr. Tiller, is open to the public and will be officiated by local religious leaders including the Rev. Paul Ashby of Fellowship Congregational Church, the Rev. Tamara Lebak of All Souls Unitarian Church, Rev.Gerard Davis, Restoration UU, Director and Teacher Jackie Roemer of Bodhicharya Oklahoma, Rev. Steve Cranford, former Executive Director of Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries and former President to Interfaith Alliance, Rev. Jay Hoyt, Acting Director of Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries, Rev. Melinda Foster of Open Table United Church of Christ in Owasso, Clark Inkanish, performing the Cedar Ceremony, and many others.

Dr. Tiller, a talented long-time Wichita obstetrician and gynecologist, husband, father of four and grandfather of eight, was shot while he attended church on Sunday, May 31 in Wichita, Kan. Apparently, the shooter’s sole motive centered on Dr. Tiller’s involvement in providing abortions for his patients.

“The senseless and unthinkable murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas this past weekend has jarred our sensibilities and our faith in the sincerity of those who self-identify as ‘pro-life’”, said coalition member Martha Hardwick.

Coalition member Nancy Kachel stated “Abortion as a moral choice, a religious choice, and to support abortion is a legal choice. To use violent means in order to deny anyone this right goes against the core values that America stands for.”

The Coalition, formed more than 10 years ago to support women’s freedom to make her own health choices, condemns those who commit violent acts against abortion providers, and the radical religious who support and incite these violent acts, as domestic terrorists. It believes these activities should be added to the list of hate crimes, and that the perpetrators be prosecuted for hate crimes.

Tiller, 67, was Diplomat of the American Board of Family Practice and Medical Director of Women's Health Care Services. He was born in Wichita at Wesley Hospital where he later became President of the Medical Staff. As a young man he attended Alcott Elementary School, Robinson Junior High School, and Wichita East High School, graduating in 1959. He attended the University of Kansas on a swimming scholarship, completed a degree in zoology in 1963, and graduated from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1967. He served his medical internship at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Camp Pendleton, CA. He graduated from the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute Flight Surgeon School and became a U.S. Navy Flight Surgeon.

He was a member of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Abortion Federation and many other national organizations. He was a renowned speaker and guest lecturer on women's health issues for numerous organizations around the world.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation may be sent to the George R. Tiller, M.D., Memorial Fund for the Advancement of Women's Health in care of the Wichita Community Foundation, 200 W. Douglas, Suite 250, Wichita, KS 67202.

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