Thursday, September 19, 2013

Late Term

After Tiller (2013) - Shane, Wilson
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The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman's life to her well being and dignity. When the government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a full adult human responsible for her own choices.
(Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg)
We all can agree that no one is really pro-abortion but I believe that what women do with their bodies is not for public debate. It amazes me that this day and age this is even an issue, especially in this country. Documentary filmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson are not here to engage the religious nuts in conversations. Late-term abortion is not an attractive subject and not many people want to touch the subject. But After Tiller an essential film for anyone who is interested in women's rights issues who needs a little more convincing.

George Tiller, a physician and the medical director of Women's Health Care Services was gunned down at his church in Wichita, Kansas by an anti-abortion activist. Tiller was a mentor/friend to the four remaining doctors in the country featured in this film, who still performs late-term abortions. They do it because they are first and foremost, medical doctors concerned about the health of their patients. They do it under the constant death threat from violent, so called pro-lifers. There are many searing anecdotes told in the film: one of the doctors decided to provide abortion services because when he practiced his medicine in Peru, there were one maternity ward and two wards for women recovering from attempted self-induced abortions and the fatality rate in those wards was about 50 percent. There was a young rape victim who, after urging of the doctors, went to the police to report.

Their patients, many of them couples, with their faces blurred for protection, make difficult decisions to terminate the pregnancy because of severe defects in their fetuses. They can't bear to carry the term and see their baby live in agonizing, torturous short life. These defects are usually not detectible until the 20 weeks in. Then there are others- poor, young.... the thing is, there are many different circumstances why women end up seeking the procedure. These compassionate doctors are there to help them make informed decisions.

This film isn't a requiem but help to inspire other doctors to take up the cause and I hope they do.

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