June 1, 2009, New York, NY – In response to the murder of respected and celebrated OB-GYN physician and abortion provider Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas this week, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:
“We join countless sister organizations in condemning the brutal killing of Dr. George Tiller by anti-choice crusaders. Dr. Tiller was shot at, had his clinic bombed and was the constant target of legal and political campaigns against him during his three-decade career by a violent anti-choice network. That he was assassinated on a Sunday morning at a place of worship should be a wake-up call for those who care about their rights and the right to safely exercise them.
“The reproductive rights of women are part and parcel of the constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. And yet, despite being ‘settled law’ for 36 years since the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that right is in constant danger of rollback by a zealous opposition movement willing to stop at nothing. Dr. Tiller’s story is the story of countless others whose decision to protect American freedom and women’s reproductive rights is met with dangerous rhetoric and the violence it inspires.
“President Obama and his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotamayor, have said they seek to find ‘common ground’ with the anti-choice movement on the ’difficult issue’ of abortion. The Center disagrees—there is no common ground when it comes to reproductive rights protected by U.S. law. Judge Sotomayor must articulate her position on the right to choose, the right to privacy and the sanctity of settled law, and Americans must stand for justice without apology.”
CCR has historically been an important player in defending and protecting a woman’s right to choose. In 1988, CCR successfully established a precedent for the “buffer zone” around abortion clinics, where anti-abortion/choice protesters could not harass or intimidate women seeking medical services in the landmark case National Organization of Women v. Terry. In addition, in 1980, CCR challenged the restriction of poor women’s right to federal Medicaid funding for abortion (the Hyde Amendment) in Harris v. McRae. The case was lost in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision; however, Congress later allowed federal funding for abortions in life-endangering pregnancies and some rape or incest pregnancies only if the states agreed to cover them. In later appropriations, the rape and incest exception to the funding ban was eliminated in 1982.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.