WashPost Film Critic Has a Four-Pinocchios Film Review of Pro-Abortion Documentary 'After Tiller'

Do movie critics ever watch the trailers of their movies? Do they think their readers can’t Google search for the trailers? On Friday, Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday hailed a pro-abortionist propaganda film. "'After Tiller,' a lucid, even-tempered portrait of physicians who perform late-term abortions, exemplifies the crucial role documentaries have come to play in civic discourse, which is so often whipped into partisan fury and emotionalism.”

That's so dishonest it should earn four Pinocchios from Post fact checker Glenn Kessler. As anyone can see in the trailer, "After Tiller" has all the partisan fury and emotionalism you would expect from people who think the right to abort a baby is a righteous act. In their view, late-term abortionists are heroes and saints, and the pro-life activists are terrorists:



After Tiller was shot, Dr. LeRoy Carhart said “There were no other thoughts in my mind but to carry out the mission.” But in Kansas, said Carhart, “The Republican Party said I was an abomination and should be driven from the state.” Over footage of pro-life demonstrators, Carhart says “You don’t give in to terrorists because it only gets worse.” The film also stars Dr. Warren Hern, who wildly exaggerates the pro-life threat in the trailer, “When I walk out the front door, I expect to be assassinated.”

Brent Bozell reported The Daily Beast singled out this quote (full of partisan fury, absurd on the facts): "We’re 40 years after Roe v. Wade, and the women in America are in worse shape than they were 40 years ago. Their rights are being trampled in the street.” Dr. Carhart says this in the film. How on Earth is this a calm or nonpartisan assessment of the abortion battlefield today?

Hornaday swallows the leftist message whole. The abortionists are masters of moral complexity, and the protesters outside the clinics are completely ignorant of this “truth” on film:

Far from the crass, exploitative murderers their opponents portray them as, the physicians in “After Tiller” emerge as thoughtful and dedicated — people who have come to their practices almost by accident but who have come to believe ever more strongly that women, as one doctor puts it, “are the world’s experts in their own lives.”

More often than not, the reasons for a late-term abortion are medical, having to do with fetal abnormalities that would mean a short, painful life for the baby after delivery. But eventually, “After Tiller” gets around to the much gnarlier ethical questions of women who, for whatever reason, have simply put off their decisions, circumstances that the physicians and their staff members grapple with openly and thoughtfully.

Sometimes the answers are unsettling. Every audience member will determine at which point they agree or disagree. But “After Tiller” declines to judge, even when it comes to the demonstrators outside the clinics, who clearly have no idea of the compassion, moral inquiry and deep caring that is going on inside the place they’re picketing.

Neither the filmmakers or their advocate Ann Hornaday can find the time to examine the "moral complexities" of a case like Jennifer Morbelli, a 29-year-old kindergarten teacher who died in February after getting an abortion inside Carhart's clinic. Dr. Carhart had left town when she died. After an investigation, blue-state Maryland's Board of Physicians decided Carhart wasn't responsible for the death. Somehow, the "woman's right to choose" propagandists don't include a story like Morbelli's.

Hornaday insisted that “‘After Tiller’ does viewers the great service of providing light where there’s usually only heat, giving a human face and heart to what previously might have been an abstract issue or quickly scanned news item.”

Hornaday sounds like she’s merely repeating the press statements of the filmmaker-activists. “Our agenda is not political, but humanist,” they declared in a statement. “The nation’s shouting match over abortion has become increasingly distanced from the real-life situations and decisions faced by those people most intimately involved,” and so they aspired to “shed more light, rather than more heat” on the issue.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis