On “The Assassination of Dr. Tiller”

It’s hard to say much about last night’s documentary because I think it largely spoke for itself. (For anyone who missed it, you can watch it online at The Rachel Maddow Show website.) But I do have to say a few things about why this documentary is so damn important.

First off, for Rachel Maddow to use her editorial power on a major cable news channel to address such a contentious issue as this in such a way — well, it’s just ground-breaking. When we talk about abortion on television, it’s either referring to some fictional television character that opts out of the abortion last-minute, or political pundits loudly debating about this word that loses its meaning. Because the real lives who are actually affected by this issue — abortion care providers and the women who have had abortions — are completely left out of the conversation. And this film was about someone’s life, a life that was dedicated to helping, to saving, other people’s lives.

Speaking of, the film gave some snippets from Dr. Tiller’s interviews with Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health, but I really wanted to show a full one here. (Transcript here.)

But really, what this documentary was trying to shed light on was the man behind Dr. Tiller’s murder and the movement that incited his actions. Like his colleagues said, when they called each other to break the news that Tiller had been shot, they said,

“They shot him.”

Operation Rescue, Terry Randall, and yes, Bill O’Reilly, all contributed to Scott Roeder’s actions with the language and culture they created painting him as a “murderer” who needed to be stopped.

Did the film make an impact? Well, the #Tiller hashtag became a trending topic on Twitter last night, which is incredible. But will that, and will the film, affect the polls on election day in a week where slews of anti-choice candidates are waiting to take away women’s choices, even in cases of rape and incest and when the woman’s life is in danger? I sure as hell hope so.

In the meantime, check out NARAL’s pro-choice voting guide to find out where your candidates stand. Also read our interview with Maddow on the documentary (and much more) from this weekend, and donate to the Dr. Tiller Memorial Fund to help women get safe and accessible abortion care.

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/alisonrose/ Alison

    It really was a great film and was so important – I’m grateful that Maddow spends so much of her time on this subject, since as you said, no one else really does, not on the important elements.

    It sure was hard listening to the anti-choice jerks in their interview bits though. I mean, I know why she had the other side on there too, but good lord…they are such lying, deceitful, hateful people. They just say all this shit that’s either completely disingenuous or extremely simplifying – and then when one of them said they never wanted anyone murdered and they were just as “horrified” as others by Tiller’s murder…oh, bull-freaking-shit. The dishonesty involved with being anti-choice is staggering, and yet these people claim to be Godly. I’d think God might have something to say about that.

    But overall, I am very very glad this was made, and I really hope a lot of people see it. Getting past the definition of “abortion” and the religious hand-wringing and learning about the women actually involved and their pain and troubles is something everyone needs to do.