This one is a toughie…it definitely is!
Settling into our balcony seats in Jesse Hall with a row-full of friends we all tried to mentally and spiritually prepare for this upcoming film. We all had different reasons for being there and different levels of interest or excitement. For me, to watch this film was a hard decision.
Hard. Howabout doggon tough. My heart was burdened as I walked into the theatre. After reading the synopsis on the True/False Film Festival website, I scribbled ‘After Tiller‘ on my list for possibles. Then, it just fit into the Sunday afternoon schedule, beating out ‘Leviathan’ for my Sunday matinée.
I am against abortion.
We all believe things that may or not be true and are either ignorant to this or not. Many things I think or believe are likely based in some strange lie I believe. My hope is that all things are made clear when Christ returns. Our society stands on different sides and on the fence regarding abortion, and within the Christian church, Believers believe differently on this issue. It is hard, doggon tough. Human life is to be celebrated and is not conditional on circumstance, utility, or whim.
‘After Tiller’ is a fascinating look into the semi-personal lives of four late-term abortion providers in the U.S. It takes us into the clinics and homes of the two women and two men who operate on women and unborn babies to provide this service. The producers of the film stated that they wanted to step away from the mainstream media’s way of covering abortion and actually get to know the men and women who make these decisions, both doctor and patient, each day. Who are these doctors and what do they deal with and how do they do their work after the death of their colleague and mentor George Tiller, who was murdered by an extreme anti-abortionist.
This film does a slam-up job of attempting to get two know these doctors as people. Some open up more than others. The two women doctors get quite personal with their decision-making and personal struggles in continuing providing abortions. One says that she struggles often with the fact that the stillborn child when removed looks like a baby, and cannot be thought of as anything else. The other female doctor wrestles with many late-term cases as she tries to decide if the story provided by the pregnant woman warrants the doctor performing the abortion.
The two male doctors let the viewer into their family lives. We meet one doctor’s Spanish wife and son and the doctor’s mother, who is not even immune of personal attacks. The other doctor has his wife, clinic manager and retired schoolteacher, beside him for the interviews. They even recount their loss of their horses and barn in a fire started by anti-abortion extremists.
Completely humanizing, several of my friends appreciated that aspect of the film. These are real people. They just may not be making the right choices. Documentaries throughout T/F show people making decisions that they live with because they believe it is the right or best thing to do. In this film, while their faces are not shown, several pregnant women, and a few husbands or partners, or shown as well. They are discussing their decision with the doctors in counseling sessions. For several expectant mothers the reality of children being born with abnormalities or fetal diseases leads them to this decision of abortion. For another it is financial. For another it is rape. These women express remorse and grief at their decision. They are not happy with their choice, but continue anyway.
Unfortunately, this film does not focus on these pregnant mothers post-abortion, as it is attenuated to the doctors on the other side of the room. We cannot see the mothers’ faces, but we see those of the doctors. In their faces we see internal wrestling and distaste.
Both pregnant mothers and doctors must live with their decisions.
If you cry when seeing this film, that is okay.
“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.
(Ezekiel 34:11-16 ESV)
How will God feed his lost sheep when he re-gathers them? In justice! Justice does not come by an extremist’s bullet or lit match. Read more of Ezekiel 34 for more insight.
I pray that these four doctors hear God’s call for life and joy! We cannot know their hearts through this film and praise God that only He can bring true justice. My dear, burdensome prayer is for these four doctors. May this film lead you to pray for them, not hate them. May this film help you to see them as broken people, even as we all are, not as villains.
Should you see this film? Maybe. But if you only look through your lenses of pro-choice or pro-life, then you may miss the message of the film. There is too much grey area in this film to simply applaud or lam-blast it for its subject matter. If you want to see man’s brokenness and be forced to look to God’s sovereignty for true hope then please watch this film.