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.

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