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Film “Humanizes” abortionists who perform third-trimester abortions

by | Jan 22, 2013

By Dave Andrusko

AfterTillerSometimes a mere 33 words can pack more descriptive power than pages. Here is part of the lead sentence of Mark Olsen’s movie review of “’After Tiller’ puts a face on abortion doctors” which ran last week in the Los Angeles Times:

“Premiering today at the Sundance Film Festival as part of the U.S. documentary competition, “After Tiller” is an intimate and heartfelt look at the four doctors performing third-trimester abortions in the United States…”

For that matter, even 12 words can be incredibly revealing. The following is from a “Notes from Sundance” in the Daily Beast, written by Marlow Stern.

“The film seeks to humanize these four pariahs of the medical profession.”

(Later, Stern tells us the four are “unbelievably good listeners” which “should be a model for all medical care in this country.”)

Before discussing several considerations that jump out at the reader, three clarifications are needed.

The “Tiller” in the title is George Tiller, the “late-term” abortionist who was killed in 2009. The documentary says there are only four abortionists who will perform abortions in the third trimester. Based only on the news accounts, this is “loosely defined as those in the third trimester of pregnancy (25 weeks) and beyond.” I don’t know if that is true. My guess is it is not.

For example, when there was debate last year over the District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act it came out that at least two abortion vendors are openly advertising late abortions.  One clinic provides abortion on request, by the brute-force dismemberment method (“D&E”), up to the beginning of the seventh month.  Another practitioner’s website contains references that suggest he may abort to approximately the start of the eighth month, by inserting a needle into the baby’s heart — and in current law, there is no requirement for him to stop even there.

And that is just one locale.

Besides if there is as much stigma as the abortionists say there is to performing abortions this late in pregnancy, it stands to reason that others plying the same grisly trade would not be as willing as these four to allow themselves to be filmed talking with “patients.”

The “only 1%” figure—if true (we rely on abortionists, who have no incentive to give accurate data, to provide accurate data) is 1% of 1.2 million! That is 12,000 abortions of huge babies.

Not having seen the documentary, I can only comment on the stories about the film’s premier at the Sundance Film Festival. Here’s what jumps out.

Sometimes the implication, when it is not explicit, is that most, indeed nearly all of these late-term abortions are because of severe anomalies. But on other occasions a different picture emerges. Olson write

“Women turn to these late procedures for both personal and medical reasons, including fetal anomalies, the health of the mother, and sometimes because young women don’t even realize or admit to themselves that they are pregnant.”

Elsewhere, in describing the work of one abortionist whose business is in the Southwest, we’re simultaneously told that abortionists have full discretion whether to carry out abortions (“most often requested in cases in which the fetus is severely malformed”) but that the abortionist says she “relies on the judgment of the women themselves. ‘If a woman comes to me, particularly if she struggles to get there, she’s come from Canada or California, Louisiana or France, because she feels so strongly that she needs an abortion,’ she said.”

A couple of paragraphs later in a story that appeared in france24.com, we reach the bottom line: they are not there to be “moral arbiters.” Or, as this abortionist said, “Underlying all of what I do is the belief that women are capable of having ethical struggles, working on ethical questions and arriving at the best decisions for themselves.”

We’ll return to this story later in the week. Final thought for today is this amazing exchange which demonstrates why putting a friendly face on these abortionists requires misdirection of a high order:

At another point in the film, one abortionist “even confesses that they are indeed aborting babies that have been brought to term.” But in breaking ranks she is not supported by the other three. “‘Nobody has the right to determine when it’s a baby other than the mother of that child,’” said one of the three.

Categories: Abortion