1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes
  2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization
  3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government

I am unspeakably sickened by today’s murder of Dr. George Tiller, a man who dedicated his life to womens’ health, despite myriad intimidation tactics and at least one previous attempt on his life by psychotic idealogues who piously claim to be “pro-life.” Because my feelings at the news of this loss are so surprisingly strong, my instinct is to say that I’m as devastated as if I had known Dr. Tiller. But that would be insulting to those who did know him and love him, because there is no way my grief could ever compare to theirs. I mourn alongside them, though. And I wish I’d known him. He sounds like the kind of human being I would have liked to have known.

The method and unjustness of Tiller’s death is horrifying. It’s stomach-turning and fist-pounding and knee-buckling all at the same time. That a self-righteous whack-job could walk into a church and gun a man down during his time of worship simply because a part of the man’s job is disagreeable, is an unfathomable tragedy. It’s a tragedy for his family and his patients. But it’s also a devastating tragedy for women everywhere in this country.

It is disturbing on a molecular level because it feels like the proverbial shot fired from the bow of a ship, an open declaration of war. Of course, this war has been on for a very long time as this is not an isolated incident: Violence at the hands of “pro-lifers” is uncomfortably commonplace. But this feels particularly frightening given U.S. Marshals are being deployed to protect workers of women’s health clinics and the patients who seek their services.

Imagine being a woman in Wichita who, tomorrow, needs to walk into a Planned Parenthood to get her birth control pills. Or a pap smear. Or counseling. Or, yes, an abortion. Imagine being the people who work in these much-needed clinics all over the United States, a country whose Constitution protects a woman’s right to choose. Women should not be afraid to make choices about what is best for their health. Doctors and nurses and administrators and counselors should not be afraid to do the work they’ve been trained to do. That it should be so is wholly un-American.

The man who murdered Dr. Tiller is a terrorist and those in the pro-life movement who support what he’s done are terrorist sympathizers. They are Evil-Doers. These vile people are different from those 19 men who flew planes into the twin towers only in the God they worship.