© 2022 Maine Public
header.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Remembering a murdered doctor who performed abortions despite threats to his life

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's time now for StoryCorps, which takes us back to 2006, when Rabbi David Young and Cantor Natalie Young were expecting their second son, Elijah. Late in Natalie's pregnancy, the couple learned their baby would not survive. So they went to see George Tiller, a doctor who provided abortions despite threats to his life. The Youngs came to StoryCorps to remember Dr. Tiller of Wichita, Kan., who was shot and killed a few years after that first time they met him.

NATALIE YOUNG: I was excited to grow our family.

DAVID YOUNG: The ultrasound where we found out that there was something wrong was supposed to be the last thing before going in and delivering a beautiful baby boy.

N YOUNG: Yeah.

D YOUNG: And the tech said, uh-oh. I remember them saying that it would be impossible for him to survive outside the womb and that he would likely be brain-dead. It was two horrible choices - having a third-term abortion or have to wait the last month of pregnancy knowing that we were going to have to give birth to a baby who could not live.

N YOUNG: Yeah.

D YOUNG: It would have been torture.

N YOUNG: Within a couple of days, we were on a plane to Wichita. I remember arriving at Dr. Tiller's office and having all of these protesters outside. And I felt like this was the last place we wanted to be. I remember us meeting Dr. Tiller, who was so kind and so sorry that we were there.

D YOUNG: He kept reminding us that nobody wanted to be there.

N YOUNG: And that it wasn't our fault.

D YOUNG: And that it wasn't our fault.

N YOUNG: Which I kept needing to hear.

D YOUNG: He made sure that we knew he had kids of his own and grandkids of his own.

N YOUNG: And that he was a man of faith.

D YOUNG: Yeah. And I don't even know if you know that every day when we got back to the hotel and you were sleeping, Dr. Tiller called me to check on you. While we both felt a sense of loss, I think we also felt a sense of gratitude that we could allow Elijah to rest in peace and not have to struggle.

N YOUNG: When I read about some person shooting Dr. Tiller, I totally freaked out.

D YOUNG: I was stunned.

N YOUNG: I was so angry. (Crying) And I thought about other couples who were probably there that week. What were they going to do? How did that change their lives?

D YOUNG: There's nothing about this experience that would fit on a picket sign or on a political campaign slogan. It's way too complicated for that. And every single person has their own unique story, just like ours.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHRIS ZABRISKIE'S "THE TEMPERATURE OF THE AIR ON THE BOW OF THE KALEETAN")

INSKEEP: Rabbi David Young and his wife Natalie for StoryCorps, recalling Dr. George Tiller.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHRIS ZABRISKIE'S "THE TEMPERATURE OF THE AIR ON THE BOW OF THE KALEETAN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Aisha Turner