The documentary After Tiller portrayed late-term abortionists in a flattering light, highlighting the tragic stories of women who were carrying dying or disabled unborn babies. Dr. George Tiller, who the documentary is named after, was assassinated by a man who claimed to be “pro-life.” All established pro-life organizations condemned the murder, including Live Action.
But was Dr. Tiller a kind, compassionate hero who relieved women of the burden of carrying dying babies? The reality is far different.
The pro-life group Life Dynamics has a recording of a speech Dr. Tiller made to the National Abortion Federation in which he said:
We have some experience with late terminations; about 10,000 patients between 24 and 36 weeks and something like 800 fetal anomalies between 26 and 36 weeks in the past 5 years.
If only 800 out of 10,000 post-24 week abortions were done on disabled babies, then the vast majority of Tiller’s victims were perfectly healthy children.
One of the youngest premature babies ever to survive, Kenya King, was born at 21 weeks and left the hospital a healthy child. Statistics show that half of babies born at 24 weeks survive if given medical care. By 29 weeks, 92% of children survive. Tiller admitted to performing abortions at 36 weeks – nine months. At this stage, the baby would survive even without medical care.
The medical textbook Essentials of Prenatal Diagnosis by Joe Leigh Simpson, M.D. and Sherman Elias, M.D says, of abortions at or beyond 24 weeks:
The size of the conceptus at this stage in pregnancy [Post 24 weeks gestation] makes D&E technically problematic… Delivery of a fetus after 24 weeks gestation will frequently result in an infant capable of survival…
In a D&E abortion, the child is dismembered with forceps. Because many of the babies that Dr. Tiller killed were so developed, it was too difficult to dismember them. Instead, Tiller would inject the poison digoxin into the baby to kill him or her and ensure that the child would not be born alive. He induced labor and the women, one by one, delivered their dead children.
And what happened to these dead babies after they were expelled from their anesthetized mothers? A former employee of Dr. Tiller, Luhra Tivis, reveals this in her testimony:
I thought I was pro-choice and I was glad to be working in an abortion clinic. I thought I was helping provide a noble service to women in crisis….I was instructed to falsify the age of the babies in medical records. I was required to lie to the mothers over the phone, as they scheduled their appointments, and to tell them that they were not ‘too far along’ Then I had to note, in the records that Dr. Tiller’s needle had successfully pierced the walls of the baby’s heart, injecting the poison what brought death…one day, Dr. Tiller came up the stairs from the basement, where the mothers were in labor. He was carrying a large cardboard box, and ducked into the employees only area of the office so that he wouldn’t have to walk through the waiting room. He passed behind my desk as I sat working on the computer, and he turned the corner to go around a short hall. He called out for me to come and help him. the box was so big and heavy in his arms that he couldn’t get the key into the lock. So I unlocked the door for him, and, pushing the door open, I saw very clearly the gleaming metal of the crematorium- a full sized crematorium, just like the one’s used in funeral homes. I went back to my computer. I could hear Dr. Tiller firing up the gas oven. A few minutes later I could smell burning human flesh. Mine was the agony of a participant, however reluctant, in the act of prenatal infanticide.
In a scene reminiscent of Nazi Germany, Tiller loaded the bodies of dead, fully formed babies into a full sized crematorium in his clinic at the end of every day. According to pro-life demonstrators outside Tiller’s clinic, a chimney releasing the ashes of the aborted babies could often be seen smoking on top of the building.
Dr. George Tiller’s death was not justified. Killing in order to protect life is hypocrisy. One cannot preserve human life by destroying human life. But Dr. Tiller was not a hero, selflessly helping women in the direst circumstances. Whatever his motives, he destroyed healthy babies who were months, weeks, or even days from being born, much the same as the late-term abortionists who were featured in the documentary that bears his name.