In "What's the Matter With Kansas?" the assassinated doctor speaks out about his battle with the radical right.
“We’ve been picketed since 1975,” says Dr. George Tiller. “My office has been blown up. We have had 4,000 people arrested outside my office in 1991. In 1993 I survived an assassination attempt. From August of 1994 until March of 1997 I was under daily U.S. Federal Marshal protection.”
Dr. Tiller’s interview is part of the new film “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” which puts a human face on Thomas Frank’s bestselling investigation into conservatism’s rise in the formerly liberal state.
In a clip (posted below), filmmakers Laura Cohen and Joe Winston explore the ways in which the abortion issue — and specifically Dr. Tiller’s clinic, Women’s Health Care Services, in Wichita — helped swing Kansas to the right. “You’ll never, ever truly get over the fact that you paid money for him to kill your baby,” shouts a protester as an SUV pulls into the parking lot of Women’s Health Services. Another shot shows children planting white crosses by the fence outside Tiller’s clinic. Mark Gietzen, who drives a truck bearing bloody (and likely doctored) image of aborted fetuses, tells the filmmakers:
I don’t like driving the Truth Truck around. I have to do that to show people this is what is taking place in a first-trimester abortion. This is not a blob of tissue. This is a human being. That abortionist Tiller, he has always been a controversial figure because he does abortions that no other abortionist will do.
Archival footage from 1991′s “Summer of Mercy,” in which thousands of Operation Rescue activists convened in Wichita to protest Tiller, is a harsh reminder of what the doctor had already lived through. What was supposed to be one week of demonstrations stretched to six, as protesters closed down Women’s Health Services and Pat Robertson flew in to congratulate them.
Each part of the clip is upsetting in its own way, from Gietzen’s boasts about stacking the local government with anti-choice Republicans to pro-choice activist Julie Burkhart’s lament at the scarcity of other late-term options for women whose pregnancies have gone horribly wrong. But it is the slain doctor’s recitation of his enemies’ past offenses that hurts the most. Uttered calmly, without a trace of anger, his words feel painfully prescient.
After screening at various film festivals, “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” will make its “world premiere” at New York’s Lincoln Center Aug. 6.
Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet. More Judy Berman.
More Related Stories
- I'm not achieving my dreams!
- The most popular Tumblr porn
- Slave descendants seek equal rights from Cherokee Nation
- Snapchat is secretly storing your photos
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Facebook's hate speech problem
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- When my home was destroyed
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- You are less beautiful than you think
- "Ghetto" tour lets you gawk at New York's poor
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- My miscarriages made me question being pro-choice
- Why I tried to be a punk
- I'm terrified of the cicada onslaught
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- SAT's right answers are all wrong
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11