Dr. Susan Robinson talks at the Albuquerque, N.M., clinic where she works in 'After Tiller.' (Oscilloscope Laboratories)
“After Tiller” is pretty tough to watch.
But then abortion, especially later-term abortion, is a pretty tough subject. And this documentary is about the four doctors left in America who perform late-term abortions.
They all have connections to Dr. George Tiller, the Kansas physician who was gunned down and killed in 2009. Two women physicians work together in a clinic in New Mexico, one male doctor has a clinic in Colorado and another is based in Nebraska initially but is forced to relocate to Maryland when laws change.
All are under constant attack from anti-abortion activists. All have gray hair. And all are true believers.
Late-term abortions occur in the third trimester of pregnancy and are outlawed in most states. They also make up less than one percent of the abortions performed in America. Sometimes they are the result of parents finding out their child is going to be born severely damaged, with no chance of survival or happiness, just a future of pain.
Far more difficult — and here the doctors admit they are forced to make judgments no one should have to make — are the cases where a woman simply does not want to have a child and has put off taking action. The film goes through a number of such stories and the doctors’ reactions and decisions.
Although the film is undeniably sympathetic to, or at least understanding of, the doctors, it also makes it clear that their consciences are cushioned by convenient terms — they perform “procedures,” they are “providers” — and each has his or her own reasoning as to why their services are needed and humane.
You may or may not be convinced, but you will be affected.
Rated PG-13 for mature themes involving abortion and brief strong language
Running time: 85 minutes