On Monday night, Appalachian Social Justice Educators hosted a free screening of the award-winning and controversial documentary, “After Tiller.”
The 2013 film is named for an abortion doctor assassinated in 2009, Dr. George Tiller. The film focuses on the complexities of late-term abortions and the remaining American doctors that perform them, with emphasis on their extreme rarity and importance.
Senior education major and ASJE member, Jodie Clouser, spoke about why the group, which confronts “issues of inequality and oppression,” chose this particular film.
“Abortion and reproductive rights have been in the news a lot recently with everything from Planned Parenthood, access to birth control, and reproductive healthcare being attacked. This film is specifically about the only four doctors in the U.S. that provide third trimester abortions. It goes into why they provide these abortions and why patients seek these abortions,” she said.
This film, which raises ethical and societal questions, will ignite critical thinking, Clouser hopes. She is especially interested in the question of bodily autonomy and spoke about its importance in society.
“I think about reproductive justice as having a body that is not only allowed to exist, but is validated and loved in the way that you want and need,” Clouser said. “For me, the most important point of the film is asking, ‘Why do you think you can make this decision better than the person who is actually experiencing it?’ I want people to genuinely think about that question, and I know that I need to think about it too. It’s something we all need to confront.”
Breanna Ramirez, a junior elementary education major, agrees with Clouser.
“Just being a female means that it very much affects me,” Ramirez said. “I think that people have the right to their bodies, and I am always interested in learning more. I want to be as educated as I can about serious and controversial topics, and I want make informed decisions.”
Ramsey Wyles also attended the event and heard about the screening through her involvement in the Women’s Center. She was enthusiastic about the documentary’s intent and unique focus, expressing awe at the doctors who are the subjects of this film.
“The film isn’t designed to sway the audience, it’s meant to inform viewers about the doctors that provide these abortions and the risks that they take by providing them,” she said. “They get death threats daily and have been shot at.”
Wyles, a junior global studies major, also spoke about her personal interest in the abortion debate and the film’s relevance in her own life.
“I wanted to support the event and also learn more about abortion, the people that provide it, what they face and the reasoning behind the people that protest their work. I think this is important information for me to have/ understand as a pro-choice woman. The debate over abortion can have direct effect on me if I ever find myself in that situation,” Wyles said.
For those interested in similar events or getting involved in social justice, the next meeting for ASJE will take place this Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Room 230 of the Reich College of Education.
Story by: Jordan Parkhurst, A&E Reporter