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Public Broadcasting Service

PBS’ Labor Day Special on Partial-Birth Abortion


In honor of Labor Day, the Public Broadcasting Company (PBS) is showing the documentary After Tiller that follows America’s  four remaining late-term abortionists as they seek to “help” women by murdering their full-term or nearly full-term babies.

The film interviews Leroy Carhart, Warren Hern, Susan Robinson, and lesbian Shelley Sella (whose “wife” is ironically a certified midwife).

Here’s an excerpt from PBS’ description of the film with manipulative, non-neutral rhetoric highlighted:

After Tiller is a portrait of the four doctors in the United States still openly performing third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas — and in the face of intense protest from abortion opponents. It is also an examination of the reasons women seek late abortions. The film presents the complexities of these women’s difficult decisions and the compassion and ethical dilemmas of the doctors and staff who fear for their own lives as they treat their patients.

After Tiller…weaves together revealing, in-depth interviews with the physicians and intimate vérité scenes both from their lives outside their clinics and the time they spend in their clinics, counseling and caring for their anxious, vulnerable patients at profoundly important crossroads in their lives. For all these doctors, the memory of Dr. Tiller remains a constant presence, serving both as an inspiration to persevere and a warning of the risks they take by doing so.

[F]ilmmakers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson…decided to go inside the lives of the last four doctors performing third-trimester abortions in America…. “We discovered that they recognized the moral and ethical complexity of doing this work better than anyone. In fact, they struggle with the issues at the heart of this debate every day.”

“The patients…were racked with guilt, sadness, anger and even ambivalence. The reason so many patients agreed to participate in the film is because they never thought they would end up in such a desperate situation and they saw that only if they shared their stories could anyone possibly understand it.”

Under the film’s segment subtitled “A Profession Under Attack,” we hear a doctor saying, “I got five shots fired through the front windows of my office. Many, many times I felt so alone,” (while showing him helping his young adopted son with his homework), and “When I walk out the door, I expect to be assassinated,” and “They said I was an abomination that should be driven from the state.” Violence perpetrated by lawless vigilantes must be deplored, but the experience of threats and “feeling so alone” pale in significance when compared to the unjustifiable evil of their actions.

Another segment is subtitled “And the People Who Risk Everything.” There is no nobility and nothing admirable about risking everything in the service of incomprehensible savagery—not even legalized, sanitized, and rationalized savagery.

In the segment subtitled “No Matter What the Cost,” one of the doctors says, “If I just give up and stop doing anything after twenty weeks, some women may get desperate and do things on their own. This is something that needs to be done.” But women who choose to “do things on their own” would be choosing. The babies whose murders these doctors rationalize have no choice. And no woman will choose to have her skull punctured, her brain partially sucked out, and skull collapsed. Nor will they choose to be injected with medication that will induce a massive heart attack. True compassion does not entail the grotesque, inhumane slaughter of innocents.

One doctor asks, “What drives women to seek third-trimester abortions? Unless people understand what’s going on for the woman, it’s impossible to support it.” Yes, this late-term abortionist actually said it. She believes that  the ends justify the means—any means, including the barbaric killing of babies capable of feeling pain and surviving outside the treacherous waters of the womb.

After Tiller includes a tearful confession from a very pregnant mother who is going to have her late-term baby aborted. The licensed professional killer (aka Dr. Sella) is seen nodding sympathetically with furrowed brows. The woman says, “It’s guilt no matter which way you go. Guilt if you go ahead and do what we’re doing. Or go ahead and bring him into this world and then he doesn’t have any quality of life.” And one of the doctors complains that  “Sometimes it’s been hard for me to feel like I could continue.” I guess the message here is that a sufficient degree of guilt covers a multitude of evils.

In the 1930s one of the Nazi attempts to efface, dilute or diminish the onus of moral offense which they bore was to twist grotesquely the concept of suffering. In order to mitigate or obfuscate their guilt, some former Nazis emphasized their profound suffering at having to perform their unpleasant duties.* Hannah Arendt explains, “The trick used by Himmler…was very simple and probably very effective: it consisted in turning these instincts around . . . in directing them toward the self…in saying…how heavily the task weighed upon my shoulders!”

Similarly, abortion advocates emphasize the profound suffering women experience prior to, during, and sometimes following their abortions. I do not mean to suggest that the suffering is manufactured, nor do I wish to diminish the intensity of the suffering. Rather, I’m suggesting that the focus on the suffering of women who choose abortion has strategic implications.

Suffering comes to serve an exculpatory function in regard to the moral implications of the act of abortion. Because the woman suffers, the moral offense is reduced. Although this emphasis on suffering is not an admission of guilt, it serves a similar function of cultivating a sympathetic response in one’s audience through an open acknowledgment of the moral gravity of one’s actions. It is difficult to explain, however, why a morally neutral “choice,” one so devoid of moral implications as to render it impervious to legal regulation, would cause such profound suffering.  One especially wonders at the gullibility of the American people.

We fallen, weak, and myopic humans have no business killing other humans based on our limited perspective and often wrong prognostications about the potential quality of their future lives.

A necessary word about guilt: Guilt is not a bad thing. Guilt properly ordered helps keep humans civilized. It is the head and heart mechanism that tells us when we are acting within the bounds of decency, civility, and moral uprightness. Without guilt, humans become hedonists and sociopaths.

When our friends and loved ones struggle with life’s inevitable challenges, we should help them through their dark days, so that they do not in their darkness commit evil acts.

The film quotes The Hollywood Reporter: “After Tiller provides insight into a heartwrenching and complex reality.” Does it really? Does it show an  actual late-term abortion procedure? Does it show the tiny arms, legs, and tummies of murdered babies just outside the birth canal? Does it show the doctors injecting poison into preborn, full-term babies or jabbing their torturous instruments into the heads of babies and crushing them, so they can slip more easily from the birth canal? Does it show the babies immediately after they have been delivered, with what’s left of their brains oozing out of flaccid bodies? Is this part of the heartwrenching complexity shown in After Tiller?

Here’s something that is really heartwrenching: partial-birth abortion VIDEO (**WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC**). No woman’s circumstances justify this—none. And is it really any more justifiable to poison a full-term baby or induce cardiac arrest one day before crushing its skull and delivering it?

Take ACTION:  This film is being shown on PBS, which is funded in part by taxpayer money. There are two things you can do:

  1. Click HERE to contact our U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representatives and ask them to oppose government funding of PBS. Yes, there is programming of value on PBS, and PBS can continue to solicit donations from the public.
  1. Click HERE to contact PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler to demand equal time to air a film that challenges the ideas cloaked in demagoguery in After Tiller and humanizes the tiny human victims of late-term abortions.  You can also call PBS at (703) 739-5000.

* What has come to be called Godwin’s law is often invoked to discredit comparisons to events of the Nazi era without having to address the substance of the comparison. What the source, attorney Michael Godwin, actually said, however, is that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.” Godwin never intended to silence all comparisons to issues related to the Holocaust or to suggest that all such comparisons are unsound.


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