Disrupt   |  September 21, 2013

The issue that could end VA's gov race

Lana Wilson and Martha Shane join Karen Finney to talk about the role of abortion politics in Virginia’s race for governor, and they discuss their new documentary, “After Tiller,” which takes a personal look into the lives of doctors who perform late-term abortions.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> told you there was a critical election happening in just two months. that's when virginia voters determine their next governor. republican ken the kuch ku h cuccinelli or terry mcauliffe ? mcauliffe with a 18-point lead of women are on full display. in 2012 , abortion care was the top voting issue for women making up a little more than half of the elect rat in virginia and nationally. virginia one of 25 states to enact 42 anti-choice measures in 2012 . and these were laws that included mandating ultra sounds, defunding planned parenthood and other service providers and creating regulations aimed at forcing clinics to close rather than providing an improved care. in addition to these measures, the doctors that perform this legal procedure have become targets of a kind of domestic terrorism with threats, intimidation and violence. in one instance, 21 horses were burned alive when a family's stable was torched. the murder of dr. george teller in 2009 remains one of the most notable acts of violence. a family planning doctor in wichita, kansas, performing late-term abortions, he was shot to death as he attended church. a new documentary "after tiller" opening friday takes a very personal look in to the lives of the four remaining doctors that perform late-term abortions and the very real threats they face four years of dr. tiller's death and the film directly challenges the myth that the procedures are ever, ever entered into lightly. as the following clip shows, for both patient and doctor, these are agonizing, painful decisions based on medical necessity .

>> obviously, if the baby didn't get part of his brain, what outcome of that can possibly be good and ours has been guilt because it's guilt no matter which way you go. guilt if you do what we're doing or bring him in to this world and he doesn't have any quality of life .

>> joining me now, lana wilson and martha shane who produced and directed the film. thank you so much.

>> thank you for having us.

>> this is an incredible film and you humanize the doctors and what they go through. talk about why they wanted to be a part of this project.

>> well, the doctors' voices left out of the debate for a long time. the abortion debate in mainstream media been the two warring camps screaming at each other and the polarizing abstract arguments that have very little to do with the real situations of the doctors and the patients who they help. so the doctors thought this would first of all be a way to get the patient's stories out there and only way to really understand why third trimester abortion is practiced and they thought, you know, we need to put a human face on the work because otherwise there's no chance of anyone getting why we're doing this.

>> martha , i read there was a quote. they thought if more americans meet them and hear where they're coming from and disagreed with the work they did, they at least might not want to kill them. these doctors face not just threats as i mentioned but threats to their lives.

>> yeah. absolutely. and, you know, it's interesting. as we got to know the doctors, we discovered they're not all of one political persuasion. dr. card is a registered republican. dr. tiller was a very religious man. these aren't all just one type of person but what unites them is incredible dedication to their patients who are in the most desperate situations imaginable.

>> let's talk about that for a minute in terms of the patient's circumstances because the other thing i think you capture really well is this idea that -- this is a very tough decision for a woman to be able to make with her doctor and i think it makes the point of why it's so important this stays, the ability for women to have this option. talk about that, lana.

>> absolutely. the cases are planned pregnancies and very much wanted baby and something goes wrong late in the pregnancy. very tragic fetal anomaly and mourning the loss of a child and making a parenting decision, really. other cases are young women who didn't have access to comprehensive age-appropriate sex education so they might not realize they're pregnant, might not know about birth control, might be terrified to tell their parents because their so young. there are rape victims who are in denial and also certain portion of women couldn't raise money for an abortion and travel far from the home and deplays them.

>> martha , this is an agonizing decision for the doctors, as well who make the decisions with their patients.

>> yeah. i mean, i think what was amazing for us is seeing how the doctors have these incredibly nuanced, complex views of their own work and so you actually see, you know, we focused on the doctors themselves and within them you see the whole abortion debate refle reflected. so i think that really makes the appeal to people on both sides of the issue.

>> it is really -- i should note i'm a board member of pro-choice america and humanizes a hard issue. thank you.

>> thank you.

>> lana wilson and martha shane. see the film. that does it for me. thanks so much for joining us. don't forget to share your thoughts. find us on facebook and tweet us. we'll see you here tomorrow right back on this station. [ male announcer