Editor's Note: Dr. George Tiller, whose Kansas women's clinic frequently took center stage in the U.S. debate over abortion, was shot and killed while serving as an usher at his Wichita church Sunday morning. Since his murder, much attention has been devoted to late-term abortions. AC360° guest Lynda Waddington had a late-term abortion and spoke with Anderson over the phone for an exclusive interview about her experience.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/05/31/kansas.doctor.killed/art.tiller.kake.jpg caption="Dr. George Tiller was one of the few U.S. physicians that performed late-term abortions. "]
Anderson Cooper: Lynda, first of all, what's your reaction to the murder of Dr. Tiller?
Lynda Waddington: My gut reaction is just sadness. To think that someone who had helped me in such a horrible time in my life, an event that most likely saved my own life could be gunned down and killed for that is just surreal and profound.
Cooper: And the reason we're talking to you on the phone is that you didn't want to appear on camera. You're allowing us to use your name but you're fearful about appearing on camera. Why? Have you received threats in the past?
Waddington: Correct. I have. Nothing recently, but emotions are running very high, I think, on both ends of the spectrum after Dr. Tiller's death. And I have young children at home.
Cooper: As you know, the argument against, you know, late abortions is that it's tantamount to murder of a fetus that could be viable outside the womb. You say it's clearly just not that simple. Explain.
Waddington: I think those who are anti-abortion have been very successful in painting the picture of who I am and who other women are who have late abortions. And it kind of ticks me off because it's not accurate. I mean, supposedly I'm just a person who woke up one day and had a back pain or a leg cramp and decided to have an abortion. And that definitely wasn't the case. This was a pregnancy that was planned. A pregnancy that was wanted and loved. And it was tantamount to having a loved one on life support and making that decision whether to end the life support or not.
Cooper: You wrote a letter last summer to then candidate Barack Obama. And you took issue with his position on late-term abortions which at that time he said that states should be able to restrict or prohibit those procedures as long as there's an exception for the health of the mother. Why do you think he's wrong? Why should it be more than just the health of the mother?
Waddington: No, I don't think that statement is necessarily wrong. As much as I wonder who gets to decide what those health concerns are. I mean, there are some people who believe that pregnancy, if God wills it, should be a death sentence for women. There are other people who believe that defects like I experienced should be allowable to terminate a pregnancy. But there are other people, you know, who want to cut that line off that depression. Women are suicidal. I don't think that's a decision government should ever be making, ever.
Cooper: That is the argument you hear probably most often from even some people who support abortions in general that if it's just the mental health of the mother, the depression of the mother, then that's not legitimate enough reason. And you say that's not true. That's inappropriate.
Waddington: I do believe that's inappropriate. I think that's a decision that the mother and the doctor and the family should be able to make on their own. We wouldn't look at someone suffering from cancer and say that you're too depressed to make your decisions regarding your family and your life. Why do we put that on women?
Read Lynda Waddington's open letter to Barack Obama while he was campaigning for the presidency last year. In it she describes her experience and why she needed a late-term abortion.
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