GSBA Vision & Mission

MISSION: To combine business development, leadership and social action to expand economic opportunities for the LGBT Community and those who support equality for all.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Silence = Death

What a chilling headline: Dr. George Tiller, who gave over thirty years of his life as a provider of women’s health care and a fierce defender of a women’s right to choose, was shot to death Sunday morning, May 31st, as he attended church. For those who didn’t know of Dr. Tiller, he was larger than life and many of us can’t fathom that he is gone.

As we gathered at Cal Anderson Park to pay tribute to this courageous man, we heard from a physician who also provides abortion services. In her comments, she mentioned how she now understands the phrase often used in the LGBT civil rights movement, “Silence = Death.” This physician shared with us that although she was firm in her commitment to provide abortion services to women, she often didn’t tell folks she was an abortion provider. And, after hearing of Dr. Tiller’s death, she realized that if all of us who have had or perform abortions “came out,” we would put a real face on the women who actually get abortions.

Over fifty percent of women have abortions during their lifetimes for many different reasons. Even though this procedure has been legal nationwide for over thirty years, extremists have been allowed to label as violent the patients and physicians who are exercising their legal right to control their bodies and rights to privacy, whereas those who threaten, harass, intimidate and murder are part of a movement called the “right to life.” Abortion may not be appropriate for everyone, but this intensely private decision is legal. It is the rhetoric of extremists that tie up our courts, limit access to health care services and push us to hide in fear of retribution and even death. Sound familiar?

There is no place for silence in any civil rights movement. No one knows better than those of us in the LGBT civil rights movement that when you put a real face and personal story in front of those who know you, the dialogue changes. If something meaningful is to come out of this senseless murder, I hope it is a recommitment not to remain silent about who we are and how we lead our lives.

Louise Chernin

GSBA Executive Director

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