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After Tiller Trailer: The Life and Death Stakes of Late-Term Abortions for both the Mothers and the Doctors

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | July 25, 2013 | Comments ()


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I don’t want to get into it too much here, because I’ve already discussed the situation at length, but a couple of years ago, when my wife and I sat down with a specialist with monoamniotic twins, we were basically told that the odds were not particularly good, and that there was a real possibility that either one or both of the twins would die in utero. That, as difficult as it might have been, we could accept. What we could not, however, was the other possibility: That one fetus died, thus severely endangering the quality of life of the other: The scenarios were grim: Brain damage, blindness, mental retardation, stillbirth, etc.

“What do we do if that happens? If we know that the outcome won’t be a favorable one for the surviving baby, our oldest, and our family? Is it possible to terminate?”

“Yes,” he said. “In Florida or Colorado. There used to be a doctor who would perform them in Kansas, but he was shot and killed.”

“Oh.”

That terrible scenario haunted us for months, the thought that we’d lose one child, and then have to jump on a plane and fly to Colorado to terminate the other. Because that’s the thing with third-trimester abortions. It doesn’t matter how pro-choice you are, no one would EVER make the decision to have one unless the only other options were worse. Women don’t just decide at 25 weeks, oh hey! I changed my mind. I don’t want this baby after all. Let’s fly 2,000 miles and have a gruesome procedure performed that will probably traumatize us for the rest of our lives!”

The only scenarios in which someone would choose to have a third-trimester abortion is if the mother’s life were endangered, or unless you believe that termination is better than the other scenario: A baby that will suffer for the rest of its life. To me, that’s a fucking cruel thing to inflict on something you love, and the doctors who are still around to perform these abortions — all four of them — are goddamn heroes because they risk their lives every goddamn day to spare some suffering for others (there will still be plenty of suffering).

That is what the documentary, After Tiller is about: The remaining four doctors still performing this procedure in the wake of the death of their mentor, Dr. Tiller, whose clinic was firebombed in 1986, who was shot in both arms in 1993, and who was shot through the eye and killed in his church in 2009.

Why? Because he provided mercy.

Here’s the trailer. After Tiller opens this fall.

(via The Daily Beast)



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • EmSharp

    This is an incredible movie. I saw it back in April at a film festival. Moving, realistic, sad, uplifting and heartbreaking all in one. It won't change any minds of those who are fully anti-abortion, but for those who might be open to change, it could do the trick. I

  • Kevin L.

    I got to see this earlier this year at BAMcinemaFest. The film itself is amazing, one of the best docs I've seen in a long time. Afterwards, the filmmakers were there—two great young women—and spoke about how the movie took shape and the doctors they profiled. I highly recommend this movie.

  • $2786243

    I read a heartbreaking testimonial from a woman who had a severely malformed fetus, one that wouldn't have survived a day beyond birth, and she made the decision to terminate...and the doctor had to read her an exhaustive description of what her fetus looked like, and how it was moving, because the law required it. This was a wanted pregnancy, and it was the best of two awful choices, and she said it was just rubbing salt in the wound. (The doctor apologized repeatedly the entire time.) The idea that anybody would assume that these procedures are for dumb bunnies who just don't know any better and would try to shame parents who are facing every parent's worst nightmare makes me want to spit flaming nails.

  • BiblioGlow

    I don't know if this was the article you read, but it's heartbreakingly similar. It's just so painful to read.
    http://www.texasobserver.org/w...

  • $2786243

    Yeah, that's it. So sad.

  • emmalita

    A few years ago, my bff and her husband were faced with this choice. One of the twins she was carrying had died, the survival of the other twin was doubtful and her life was in danger. Before a decision was made, she went into labor and delivered at 30 weeks. I don't know what decision they would have made, I've never asked. I do know that in the 20+ years we have been friends I have never seen my bff in more physical and emotional pain. Years later she has a beautiful, happy, healthy daughter who goes to physical therapy and occupational therapy every week, and sees various specialists a couple of times a month. She has mild cerebral palsy and a slightly twisted leg they are trying to correct without surgery. My bff is lucky because she has a husband who makes enough to afford the insurance to cover it all and support the family while she takes a few years to be a stay at home mom.

  • NateMan

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Slash

    I don't know why you think that doctors and women know more about medical procedures involving the uterus than politicians. I mean, WTF?

    Every reasonable person knows that politicians, hand in hand with Jesus, should be the ones making all of our medical decisions. Doctors just have, you know, worthless medical degrees, so clearly, they're not able to make the best determination of what to do in a difficult medical situation. And as for women, well, they have vaginas, which means that they aren't capable of competent decisions at all.

    The people who should be deciding these things are all (mostly male) public officials. The same ones who make all the decisions regarding our tax systems, our financial system, our education system, federal, state and local budgets, and most corporations. Look at how awesome they are at running all that shit. So we should definitely have them in charge of this, too.

  • Maguita NYC

    It has been so long since our government had shown such apathy, lack of humanity and decency towards people suffering.

    This outright contempt towards KNOWLEDGE, sanctimonious disregard for human rights under the guise of religious piety has got to stop. I just don't know how we can stop it anymore; The strive for hatred towards women in certain states and the butchering of their rights to fairness, has reached what seems insurmountable levels of degradation.

  • BlackRabbit

    I'm curious if there's some Golden Age of governmental empathy I'm unaware of in the past. Our government in general has had a bad history simply because it's filled with attention-seekers and people who pander to the fears of the uninformed. Not all people in the government are bad, but the squeaky wheels get the votes.

  • Scully

    I found the following thread on Sullivan’s website informative and crucial, and I’ve now re-read it countless times. These are testimonials from those who used Dr. Tiller’s services and others who faced similar circumstances. It’s a must-share.

    http://dish.andrewsullivan.com...

  • NateMan

    Thanks so much for that link. It's agonizing to read, but it's important to affirm my own feelings on the subject. Pro-choice is one of the few things I'm truly fanatical about, maybe the only thing. And though it hurts to think about, and to read about the difficult choices other people have had to make, it's important to remember I'm not the only one and that far, far too many people, men and women, couples and singles, have been in this predicament.

  • Ms MoMo

    Honestly, I've been living the life of the uninformed. I'd thought that a late term procedure was one that occurred before 28 weeks. If it was after that point, you were forced to carry the pregnancy to term. I am very pro-choice. I've been in similar shoes - July '85. I cannot and will not be able to watch this trailer or movie. I've nothing but sympathy for others on the topic. Damn.

  • Actually, you are correct. I worked for Dr. Hern for five years, and I specialized in counseling women with fetal anomalies (a small but excruciating part of his practice). There are limits beyond which you may only terminate a pregnancy to save the life of the mother, no matter how deformed a fetus may be. There is an appallingly short window of time between when a woman gets the result of an amniocentesis (which has to be done after 20 weeks and is often done later than that), and when she runs out of options. The second trimester ends around 24-26 weeks. I have personally had to have the heartbreaking conversation with women and tell them that we could not help them end their pregnancy, because it was too late. These late term abortions are happening right at this limit. And every woman who is facing it never thought she would be in that situation. It is so painful, and made so much worse by the protests and these cruel intrusions by the state.

  • Krissy

    It made me burst into tears at my desk but I am running on 3 years of infertility so anything to with babies breaks my heart. I cannot imagine facing something so terrible

  • alannaofdoom

    Big hugs to both of you - I'm just running on a whole bunch of mood-swingy PMS today and I can't bear it.

  • Jifaner

    Everyone should have to watch this. Making some people understand that late term abortions aren't some whim of convenience is ridiculously hard.

  • ljridley

    I remember listening to Nina Totenberg describe the procedure when covering the Supreme Court arguments and wondering how anyone could possibly think that there anything easy about the decision, that whoever has to decide about a late term abortion isn't already in the worst place imaginable.

  • NateMan

    How I wish I could drill that into people's heads.

  • lowercase_see

    An amazing, courageous woman named Julie Burkhart has been working to re-open Tiller's clinic in Wichita because there are no other providers for hundreds of miles. They wouldn't perform late-term abortions, just up to 15 weeks, but they would offer women's health services that haven't been available in the area since Dr. Tiller was murdered in 2009.

    In true "pro-life" fashion, she's been receiving too many death threats to count, from straight-up "check under your car because today may be the day there's a bomb there" to the ominous "Where do you go to church."

    Jump up my ass, fuckers.

  • NateMan

    I want to upvote you a bajillion times for the last line alone.

  • lowercase_see

    True story, I finally saw 'Cabin in the Woods' last weekend. Every time I call someone 'fucker,' I like to imagine I'm Topher. Stoner Topher. Marty.

  • profession: none, or starlet

    Heh. He will always be Topher. And to me, he will always be Topher in the episode where everyone, including Olivia Williams, gets really stoned.

  • NateMan

    Glad you finally joined the Cabin in the Woods fanclub! What an awesome flick. And yeah, Marty was definitely the best part.

  • lowercase_see

    Adding insult to injury is the "Abbot for Governor" ad I'm getting on
    the side of this. All guns, god and gynos, that douchecanoe. As the great George Carlin once said, "If you're pre-born, you're fine. If you're pre-school, you're fucked." I kindly invite him to fuck right the hell off.

  • NateMan

    Gods... I'm going to watch this movie in tears and with a massive drink in my hand, and probably spend the next few hours staring at the wall. But I must watch it. Thank you so much for making me aware of it.

  • BWeaves

    seconded.

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