After Tiller is a forthcoming documentary that played at the Sundance Film Festival which chronicles the only four doctors in the United States who continue to perform third-trimester abortions. The website describes the film as
an intimate look into each of the four physicians’ private and professional struggles. Wrenching moments in the clinics, when they gently counsel distraught patients facing grievous losses, force us to step into the shoes of both practitioner and patient and confront the full complexity of each decision…After Tiller sensitively and artfully extricates the controversy from the ideological realm and humanizes those who have been demonized.
What is shocking about the above video is that the doctor assumes she (with the consent of the mother) can decide for another person if their life is worth living. If they determine the quality of life is not going to be good enough, then ending the life is for the greater good and acceptable even though a hard decision.
The film portrays the abortionists as protagonists who help women make difficult decisions. Even more disturbingly the film seems to acknowledge they are killing babies.
At least in this film, they have abandoned the argument that these babies are simply a “clump of cells” and gone straight for the utilitarian argument.
Justin Dyer in an article on Public Discourse says:
The film unquestionably depicts the termination of severely disabled or malformed children as the lesser evil. By the end, however, After Tiller also pushes its viewers to consider the morality of late-term abortion for reasons unrelated to the health or life quality of the child.
At one point, Dr. Robinson confronts a young Catholic woman who is wracked by guilt at the thought of committing what her Church considers a mortal sin. Her parents, the father of the baby, and the father’s parents all plead with her not to have an abortion. Robinson lays out the decision to her this way:
“You have three choices. You can have a kid that you say you can’t take good care of. You can have a kid and give it to somebody else, who you know or don’t know. Or you can have an abortion, which you think is the wrong thing to do. Those are your three choices. They all suck.”
In putting the options this way, Robinson does not shy away from the fact that abortion ends a life; this is precisely why, to use her phrase, abortion sucks. Throughout the film there is no pretending that a child’s life is not at stake or that what is at issue is merely a clump of cells. At one point, a patient expresses her hope that her baby will become an angel and go to heaven. Later Sella confesses, “I think of them as babies.”
I don’t know if you caught that. One of the doctors thinks they are babies, yet they continue.
After Tiller broaches the question of whether, and in what circumstances, it is morally permissible to end the life of human beings at any age, since the reasons and justifications for ending the life of a child are not dependent, in principle, on its being an unborn child. Pro-choice philosophers and academics have acknowledged this at least since the 1970s, but it has taken several decades for the logic to manifest itself in our culture.
Even if unwittingly, the extreme position staked out in academic philosophy journals is the very position to which viewers of After Tiller are being pushed. Once we accept the humanity of unborn children (as the doctors in the film do) and approve the deliberate killing of unborn children diagnosed with severe disabilities, the logical next question is, why not also allow the euthanasia of disabled infants? And if we are prepared to accept other justifications for abortion beyond fetal disabilities, then why not also accept these as justifications for infanticide?