George was born less than 4 months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The America of his birth was a traditional one whose family values were strong. His dad was a doctor and his parents raised him in a religious and politically-conservative Midwestern home. He lacked neither for love nor for material possessions. Growing up in the ’50’s, he was a child of the Eisenhower era, of the Cold War, of doing the right thing. It was all God and country at George’s house and he was a straight arrow. A good student, he graduated from high school in 1959 and went on to the state university the next year where he majored in zoology. In 1963, he entered medical school, following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a doctor. After earning his degree, George served in the U.S. Navy for 3 years, completing a medical internship. George’s life was going just according to plan. That is, until 1970.
On a vacation trip to Yellowstone National Park, the small plane carrying his parents, his sister and his brother-in-law crashed. Everyone on board was killed. In a single afternoon, George lost every member of his immediate family. Except for one. His baby nephew had been left behind with relatives. And so George, being alone now, adopted this little orphaned child and made him his son. A few years later, George married and he and his wife added three more children to their family. His medical practice thrived and after decades of hard work, he was a wealthy man. Respected in his community, George was active in his church and local political life. He enjoyed golf, gardening, and Star Trek, often quoting lines from the television show to family and friends. He was known as a happy person, with a big, boisterous and heartfelt laugh. For George and his family, life was good. He had achieved the American dream.
On Sunday, May 10, 2009, George was at church with his wife, Jeanne. As she sang in the choir, George was ushering people to their seats. While he was standing near the church doors, a man came in carrying a gun. He shot George once in the head at point-blank range, then calmly walked outside, got in his car, and drove away. George Tiller, M.D. was one of the few doctors in this country who performed late-term abortions. In fact, George’s entire medical practice and wealth were built on the abortion trade. By his own count, he had performed more than 60,000 abortions in his career. Many of them involved babies that were from 6 to 9 months in gestation: babies who probably could have survived on their own had he not killed them using the most violent and painful ways you can imagine while they were still in their mother’s womb. George Tiller did his part to support the legalized sin of abortion in this country in which 1.3 million babies are killed each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 6.1% of these abortions are for medical reasons. Many experts think that even 6% is an over-estimate. The rest are killed for reasons of convenience. Dr. Tiller believed that every woman has the right to abort her child even up to and including the moments just before the baby’s natural birth. His career and his outspoken support for abortion had made him a target for some militant anti-abortion groups. His murderer probably knew that George wore a bulletproof vest each day under his clothes and so chose to shoot Dr. Tiller in the head. On Mother’s Day. In church. As Catholic Christians, we believe that abortion is murder. Every life is created by God for His purpose. Each human soul reflects the divinity of his Creator and Savior. Just as did George Tiller’s soul. And so now, one of America’s most prolific abortionists is gone. We may think we know what Dr. Tiller deserves. But would any one of us want to receive from God what we truly deserve? No. We hope in God’s mercy as we stand before Him at the end of our lives. We pray for that same mercy for Dr. Tiller. May his soul rest in the peace of Christ, surrounded by at least 60,000 souls he sent there. And may we end abortion through a change in our hearts and our laws. Amen.
“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what it wants.”
—Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta