tl;dr: Tough Topics

Disclaimer: The following post discusses issues regarding late-term abortions.  

While I was an intern at POV last summer, I worked on promoting a film called After Tiller. The film is about the four doctors who are legally and openly performing late-term (third trimester) abortions in the United States. It chronicles their decision to continue in their profession despite the murder of a colleague, Dr. George Tiller (who was killed while attending church in 2009). It’s an uncomfortable film at times, but worthwhile if you’re interested in why a late-term abortion might be requested, and why these doctors continue to risk their lives to help families make painful decisions.



In my opinion, it’s one of the most well made films of POV’s 27th season. But the public disagreed. Something important to know about POV is that it airs on PBS, a government funded television station. So when POV started to publicize the airing of After Tiller, the trolls were unleashed upon the film’s comment section. People were writing hateful vitriol, seething that a publicly funded television show would air any film that dare discuss abortion. Angry commenters threatened to petition PBS to get the film off the air, complaining that their tax dollars shouldn’t be used to fund something they disapproved of.*

But here’s the thing: After Tiller is a film that wants to explore why a woman might choose to have an abortion–from serious birth defects detected during pregnancy, to being financially unable to afford another child. After Tiller seeks to shed some light on this controversial issue; it’s interested in dialogue, not debate. It explores these issues with empathy and compassion, rather than with a political goal in mind. In fact, a colleague of mine at POV expressed that his mother, who is firmly anti-abortion, liked the film and learned a lot from it. I believe strongly that if the world wants fewer women to have abortions, we need to encourage strong sex education programs. And part of a strong sex ed program is talking about tough topics, including abortion rights.

After Tiller is available on Netflix.

I’d also recommend the following resources for more information on discussing tough topics–both of them are great resources to use in a classroom:

Shmoop hosts online courses on every topic imaginable, from Literature to Chemistry. The also have a great rundown on abortion rights, and the link between abortion law and the right to privacy.

ProCon is another great resource for educators. It provides nonpartisan summaries of a variety of controversial topics, including abortion.

*Hey, I’d love to not pay for a lot of things the US government spends our money on. But I do. 


1 thought on “tl;dr: Tough Topics

  1. I will have to watch this. I requested a late term abortion when I found out my daughter would die either shortly before or shortly after birth due to neural tube defects. Knowing how it was going to end I just didn’t want to be pregnant anymore. My OB said he could not legally perform it and that I would have to go to an abortion clinic to get it done. I don’t remember if a 3rd trimester abortion was being performed in MN back then, I doubt it. Anyway, I went through with the pregnancy not having any other choice really. It would have been horrible no matter what so terminating the pregnancy a couple of weeks early might not have made much of a difference and I did get a little more time with her alive. Yes, we need a dialogue if we can’t get the government to stay out of our business/bodies. HBO did a series about abortions maybe 20 years ago. I think it was called If These Walls Could Talk. It had Cher, Anne Heche, Jada Pinkett and a bunch of other big name actors and actresses in it. It was very powerful. If you haven’t seen it yet it’s probably available somewhere.


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