After Tiller

After Tiller

2013, PG-13, 85 min. Directed by Martha Shane, Lana Wilson.

REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Oct. 11, 2013

After several previous attempts on his life, Dr. George Tiller was assassinated in 2009. He was one of only a handful of physicians to provide late-term abortions in America; this documentary profiles the remaining four doctors, all Tiller protégés who do their work under constant stress and the threat of attack by anti-abortion proponents.

After Tiller isn’t about making a case; it’s about painting a picture of the day-to-day work done by these four doctors as they counsel pregnant women and grapple with their own sometimes-conflicted feelings about their profession and the attendant risks. There are the obvious ones of safety – one doctor offhandedly mentions that the odd structural layout of her home is a good deterrent for sniper fire, while another one relates how anti-abortion zealots burned down his stable, slaughtering three-dozen horses). But After Tiller movingly dramatizes another side effect of the job: how difficult it can be for the doctors to not internalize the sadness of the women who walk through their doors.

Understandably, very few of these women show their faces on camera as they explain why they’ve chosen to terminate their pregnancies in the third trimester – one is motivated by dire economic straits, another doesn’t want to carry to term the product of a rape, while several cite lethal fetal conditions – but co-directors Martha Shane and Lana Wilson zero in on the women’s hands as they wring worriedly, reach out for a partner’s hand for comfort, or stroke a pregnant belly. It’s gutting stuff to watch, thankfully not further goosed by the filmmakers for dramatic effect. The issue of late-term abortions tends to inspire polemics from both sides of the debate; Shane and Wilson’s approach – sensitive, measured, workmanlike – is a welcome one.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Films
Us
Jordan Peele has met the enemy, and they is Us

Richard Whittaker, March 22, 2019

Level 16
Horror mystery used dread in a tale of the lies we tell young women

Danielle White, March 22, 2019

More by Kimberley Jones
Gloria Bell
Julianne Moore excels (as always) in this funny, poignant character study

March 22, 2019

Trump’s Twitter Library, a Ferris Wheel of Cheese, and More From the Wide, Weird World of SXSW
Trump’s Twitter Library, a Ferris Wheel of Cheese, and More From the Wide, Weird World of SXSW
Festival-adjacent events abound!

March 8, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

After Tiller, Martha Shane, Lana Wilson

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle