Once in a while, a movie comes along that's both enlightening and controversial, without resorting to any sensationalism to prove its point. After Tiller is that movie. It follows the lives of four late term abortion providers that are as diverse as the women who come to them. It shows the courage of medically trained profesionnals doing one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the field. This is a must-see movie for everyone, regardless of where you stand on abortion. Whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, or somewhere in between, you have got to take a look at this.
Although the directors clearly come from one ideological viewpoint (everyone does), the movie does a great job of illustrating the issue of abortion with a good dose of objectivity. As Daniel Fienberg at HitFix remarks, "[the movie] doesn't attempt to make things pretty or to dodge the aspects of late-term abortions that leave even some pro-choice activists a little uncomfortable." As a guest at the premiere in New York back in May, I can attest to that. The portrayal of late term abortion was hard to watch, but necessary for me to see to better understand my own position on this issue. One of the most enlightening parts of the documentary is when one of the doctors admits to the camera that she believes she is dealing with a baby, not a fetus.
"The doctors instruct their patients that this isn't an operation. It's a delivery. They don't say they're removing "tissue" or "an embryo" or "the fetus." This is a delivery in which the baby is euthanized. They're honest and frank about what they do, but the documentary is also honest and frank about who they're doing this for and why it's important," notes Fienberg.
In fact, the film is honest in many ways. It demystifies a lot of the myths about the type of women who seek late-term abortions. Some need the procedure after realizing that their babies would be born with fatal or life-long severe medical problems. Others didn't realize they were pregnant until it was too late and one of them is actually turned away by a late-term provider and given information about adoption.
The film has a humanizing effect. It humanizes the babies that are euthanized, rather than fetuses that removed. It humanizes the women who undergo these late-term abortion procedures and the doctors who perform them.
It reminds the viewer that the decision to have an abortion is never easy, nor is it done with no disregard for the baby. The doctors are even shown organizing a funeral on-site for the family of a baby that was going to be born with severe complications and only live a few weeks.
"The notion that this procedure is being carried out casually or callously is rendered ludicrous. The people we see deliberating this choice represent a variety of economic backgrounds, a variety of educational backgrounds and several of them are overtly religious people" Fienberg explains.
This movie will make people on both sides of the abortion debate think more deeply about their position. More importantly, it can help everyone engage in a more productive conversation about the issue. Pro-lifers and pro-choicers may agree on very little, this film helps both of them understand a little more about what they are fighting about.
Share this movie with your friends and see where the discussion takes you.