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Film Review: 'After Tiller'

Emily Mae Czachor |
September 30, 2013 | 10:55 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

"It is not just about being alive, it is about life."

This is the belief of the select group of doctors in the United States who openly perform third-trimester abortions. Martha Shane and Lana Wilson's new documentary "After Tiller" explores this practice in a way that provides clarity about a subject often addressed in an abstract, vague fashion. The inspiration for the documentary was the murder of Dr. George Tiller, a late-term abortion doctor who was killed in his Kansas church by vehement protestors in 2009. Only four brave doctors have continued Dr. Tiller's legacy. 

 Flickr Creative Commons)
Flickr Creative Commons)
The concept of third trimester abortions is largely foreign to the general public, establishing itself as an arena for misunderstanding and fear to run rampant. Particularly in areas of the midwest and south that are highly concentrated with religious communities, abortion clinics are the target for a a hefty bout of hatred. The documentary exposes the inner-workings of the infamous late-term abortion clinics, revealing the tender and deeply personal stories of women who have found themselves in helpless situations.

"After Tiller" delves into complex, morally confusing territory in which the audience must face the pressing question: is it right? Whether or not the viewer travels a personal journey to seek this answer during the course of the film or not, it is undeniable that the story is revolutionary. The viewer feels as though he or she is perched directly between the tormented mother and the abortion doctor during their painful consultations. These are women and couples who have recently been delivered fatal information about the condition of their unborn children, and they appear conflicted to the point of near paralysis. Each couple, and doctor, is faced with the impossible decision of whether or not to judge the quality of life that will be had by their beloved child, and then whether or not to act.

The documentary denounces all presumptuous stereotypes about the promiscuity and negligence that plagues the image of women who receive abortions. These women are tormented, to say the least - some, middle-aged women who have dreamed of having a family, and others, supremely Catholic teenagers who were too overwrought with terror and denial to handle the situation earlier. The courage of these women is equaled by that of the doctors, who essentially risk their lives each day when they enter the clinic in unparalleled support of a cause that for which they are unafraid to fight.

The threat to these doctors is very real, especially in the wake of Dr. Tiller's death. However, each doctor has withstood his or her own personal horror story - each have received death threats, endured protestors, and one even withstood gunshots to the entrance of his clinic. The revelatory account behind "After Tiller" is one that has never before been told, but should absolutely be noticed. The blatant compassion that drives each doctor to arrive at work each day is successfully conveyed in this heartbreaking, but supremely illuminating film. 

Reach Staff Reporter Emily Mae Czachor here



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