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After Tiller

Sheds a humanistic light on the heated abortion debate by going inside the lives of the last four doctors in America who openly provide third-trimester abortions and the reasons their patients seek them.

A printer-friendly version of this page 88 minutes
Closed Captioned

Directed by Martha Shane, Lana Wilson
Executive Produced by Artemis Media Ventures, Belle Max Productions
Editor: Greg O'Toole
Director of Photography: Hillary Spera
Cinematography: Emily Topper
Original Score: Andy Cabic, Eric D. Johnson

"A rare feat...a calm, humanist documentary about a hot-button topic" Alissa Simon, Variety
Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in May 2009, there are only four American doctors left who openly provide third-trimester abortions. AFTER TILLER paints a complex, compassionate portrait of these physicians--Dr. LeRoy Carhart, Dr. Warren Hern, Dr. Susan Robinson and Dr. Shelley Sella--who have become the new number-one targets of the anti-abortion movement, yet continue to risk their lives every day to do work that many believe is murder, but which they believe is profoundly important for their patients' lives.

The film weaves together revealing, in-depth interviews with the doctors with intimate vérité scenes from their lives and inside their clinics, where they counsel and care for their anxious, vulnerable patients at an important crossroads in their lives. By sharing the moving stories of several of these patients, AFTER TILLER illuminates the experiences of women who seek late abortions and the reasons why they do so.

Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2014     Copyright Date: 2013
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-357-9

"A rare and honest look inside abortion clinics. Like a fly on the wall, you hear women, and men with them, speaking of why they are there for a late-term abortion. Their doctors are deeply thoughtful and deeply caring. Providers tell why they are committed to providing abortion. Doctors hug patients over and over again! An incredible, surprising, and moving film. Valuable for classroom use for accurate information and discussion in health and medical studies, social sciences, philosophy, women's studies, college and high school."
Leslie J. Reagan, Professor of Gender and Women's Studies, Professor of History, University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, Author, When Abortion Was a Crime and Dangerous Pregnancies

"One of the most remarkable things about the superb new documentary film After that it was made at all...The young filmmakers gained extraordinary access to four abortion providers - access which includes not only extensive coverage of their abortion practices but, even more unusually, their family lives as well...After Tiller makes clear how profoundly gratifying it is to be of service to these women-and to continue the journey of their mentor and friend."
Carole Joffe, Professor, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California - San Francisco, Author of Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us

"A powerful, elegantly crafted documentary...I was left with profound empathy for the providers who carry on despite continual threats of violence and an extreme toll on their personal lives and those of their families. I was moved by the stories of women who make the heart-breaking decision to end their pregnancies. The film does not supply pat or easy answers but fully displays the complex ethical issues that each woman faces as experts on their own lives. This film is a must-see for those interested in women's health issues and reproductive rights. It is appropriate for high school and college audiences."
Dr. Heather Munro Prescott, Professor of History, Central Connecticut State University, Author, The Morning After: A History of Emergency Contraception in the United States

"After Tiller presents an eye-opening, gentle account of the often trying circumstances that lead to pregnancy termination and the lengths that a handful of providers must go through to ensure that women have access to safe procedures when necessary. It will change your understanding of the reality of late-term abortion in the U.S."
Elena Gutiérrez, Associate Professor, Gender and Women's Studies, University of Illinois, Co-author, Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice

"Highly Recommended...Throughout the film, the filmmakers highlight each doctor's tremendous compassion for their patients and show their dedication to continuing Dr. Tiller's work despite death threats and constant protests from pro-life advocates. Although the film has a pro-choice slant, the divisive subject of abortion is handled with great sensitivity. Footage of the doctors talking with their patients before and after their procedures make it clear that the decision to give an abortion and the decision to have an abortion is a very serious and often heartbreaking one. After Tiller is recommended for mature audiences in high school health classes and students interested in medical ethics, medical humanities, or obstetrics."
Nell Aronoff, University at Buffalo, Educational Media Reviews Online

"An intimate glimpse into actual clinics as doctors, staff, and patients struggle with moral quandaries and cultural pressure while grappling with their incredibly personal decisions...For libraries that want to cover every angle of this still controversial issue, After Tiller is an important, sensitive, clear-eyed look at doctors and clinics in the center of the storm."
Joshua Peck, Palos Verdes Library District, Library Journal

"A powerful and provocative documentary about the abortion wars, this is highly recommended."
C. Cassady, Video Librarian

"The film captures the cruel irony that anti-abortionists work so hard to obscure from themselves, that their compassion for unborn children can only exist by disregarding or downplaying their compassion for the parents those children belong to. On the extreme end of an already touchy subject, After Tiller is elegantly simple, finding an emotional truth that might help put people in others' shoes, rather than preaching to the choir...Highly recommended."
Tyler Foster, DVD Talk

"Whether one is pro-life, pro-choice or without an opinion on the issue, After Tiller provides personal insight into a heart-wrenching, complex reality. The film does not pretend to be an answer to the abortion controversy but rather a presentation of the people who are demonized, correctly or incorrectly, for their actions."
The Hollywood Reporter

"Debuting helmers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson manage a rare feat in After Tiller, making a calm, humanist documentary about a hot-button topic...Well contextualized and sensitively shot with extraordinary access, the pic reflects the personal, moral and ethical struggles of the doctors as well as their patients, and deserves the widest possible audience."

"Intimate and heartfelt...Brings an emotional clarity to an issue in which every nuanced turn of phrase has been made politically complicated."
The Los Angeles Times

"Extraordinarily compassionate and thought-provoking...An important film that looks unblinkingly at an important subject."

"One of the most courageous pieces of filmmaking I've ever seen. The film takes the issue out of pulpit/talk show screaming-match format and engages viewers' hearts and minds, reminding us why we need to make and watch documentary films at all."

"One of the most emotionally wrenching and powerful non-fiction pieces this year."
Hollywood Chicago

"An intelligent, nuanced, and sensitive portrait of the last four remaining doctors in the U.S. who perform third-trimester abortions."

Select your institution type

DVDs include public performance rights.

DVD Features
Include closed captions and scene selection.
Chapter Titles
1. Tiller is Dead
2. What Life Will This Baby Have?
3. The Story of Dr. Hern
4. Strength to Continue
5. A Lifetime of Pain and Suffering
6. An Act of Terrorism
7. Cannot Retire
8. The Fetal Pain Act
9. Sympathy and a Caring Embrace
10. The Compelling Story Criterion
11. One Sided War against Abortion
12. Moral Dilemmas
13. The Carharts Move to Maryland
14. Three Bad Choices for Catholic Girl
15. Protest Pressure and Fighting Back
16. End Credits

24-page Educational Guide
Medical Addendum to Educational Guide
Guttmacher Institute for information about reproductive health

Information about later abortion
NARAL website for getting involved in your state

Awards and Festivals
Sundance Film Festival
ALA's 2015 Notable Videos for Adults List
Video Librarian's 2014 Best Documentaries List
Best Media 2014: Best Video: Documentary, Library Journal
Human Rights Award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Nominee, Best Documentary, Independent Spirit Awards
Documentary Jury Prize, Sarasota Film Festival
HotDocs, Canadian Documentary Film Festival
AFI Docs
San Francisco International Film Festival
True/False Film Festival
Sheffield DocFest
Seattle International Film Festival
United Nations Association Film Festival, Stanford

American Studies
Civil Rights
Human Rights
Medical Ethics
Political Science
Reproductive Rights
Women's Studies

Related Titles

When Abortion was Illegal
Devastating stories from the era of illegal abortion.

The plight of a nine-year-old Nicaraguan girl, who becomes pregnant as the result of a rape, triggers a battle over whose life has precedence.

Reel to Real: Holding Our Ground
International efforts to assure reproductive health and rights conflict with cultural realities in the Philippines, Latvia, Japan, and India.

The Doctor's Story
The US debate over abortion has severe consequences for health care in rural Nepal.

Sex and the Holy City
Investigates the impact on poor women and families of the late Pope John Paul's position on sex and reproductive health.

Can Condoms Kill?
Investigates the Catholic Church's allegation in SEX AND THE HOLY CITY that condoms are unreliable and ineffective in preventing the transmission of HIV.

Midwives...Lullabies...and Mother Earth
Fascinating look at pioneering natural birth doctor, Michel Odent.

... more Reviews

"A+! A terrific documentary that handles sensitively this controversial and heated topic."
Movie City News

"[Voices] complex sentiments too rarely heard on either side of such a polarizing issue."
The Onion

"Presents its extremely divisive and controversial subject matter with remarkable sensitivity...Admirably explores the fine nuances and specifics of these physicians' lives and the difficult decisions that they and their patients make. It may not make for the most sensationalistic account of the issue, but it's probably one of the most humanistic."
Screen International

"This documentary is particularly poignant in showing how the stigmatization of abortion care takes a personal toll on doctors. As a result, there is a shortage of abortion providers due to the intimidation, constant protest, and violence they face."
Natalia Deeb-Sossa, Films for the Feminist Classroom

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