Produced by HBO, one of the flagships of documentary filmmaking, “Abortion: Stories Women Tell” is thoughtfully and incisively directed by Tracy Droz Tragos. “Abortion: Stories Told by Women” highlights the impact of the lack of medical availability on women in Missouri, her home state and one of four states in the country with a single abortion clinic serving all of Missouri. ‘State. As this film highlights, the goal of the conservative majority in the Missouri General Assembly, which recently enacted a 72-hour waiting period that further complicates access to abortion, is to rid the state of his last clinic. As things stand, it becomes almost impossible for a woman to terminate her pregnancy for any reason in this state.
What Tragos does best, however, is tell the real stories of the women who travel hundreds of miles to Granite City, Illinois, just across the border from St. to get the abortions they need for one of a number. for different reasons, some medical, some personal and most of them heartbreaking. For these women, getting an abortion is an expensive process that requires time off from work, finding care for their children in many cases, and raising funds not only for the procedure itself, but also for what may be overnight due to distances. they travelled.
There’s Amie, a single mother with two children who works 70 to 90 hours a week at two jobs to support her family. Pregnant, she could no longer combine the two jobs and without this income the family would be destitute. She must miss work and travel over 400 miles to try to get a pill that she hopes will end her pregnancy; his follow-up exam will result in the same 400 miles and lost wages. But before she can enter the clinic in Granite City, she will have to pass the gauntlet of pro-life proselytes. Then there is Monique whose husband beat her constantly. There was no way she could raise a child in an environment where she couldn’t protect herself.
But there is also the story of the young Christian couple who, after viewing an ultrasound scan of their fetus and being told that its brain had stopped developing and would die shortly after birth if made it this far, made the difficult decision to abort; a decision that was supported by their pastor who gave them emotional comfort at a time when they needed it most. Would they have continued on this path without his support? Yes, but his helper made a tough decision they could live with.
Interviews with clinic staff reveal women who understand or sympathize with their patients’ dilemmas, either because they too have been placed in similar situations or because they realize that psychologically these vulnerable women have need love and support, not hell and damnation.
But Tragos also introduces us to an older woman named Kathy. Pro-life, she has chosen a path to organize her fellow church members by leading the charge against abortion and family planning. She truly believes that her God has chosen her for this leadership role and she will not rest until all the clinics in the country are closed. Her Catholicism has taught her that life is sacred from conception and she accepts nothing less. Her calling is higher and we glimpse her leadership at home, in church and in the field, marching against clinics that serve women. One may disagree with Kathy’s motives but, as Tragos expertly illustrates, Kathy is sincere in her religious beliefs and will work tirelessly to promote them.
Told without judgement, all stories are, in their own way, inspiring in their bravery or heartbreaking in their reality; sometimes it’s both. Individuals dedicated to the pro-life movement like Kathy follow the tenets of their religion. For them, in cases they deem to be moral issues, there can be no separation of church and state. Surely there are those religious fanatics who picket Planned Parenthood clinics shouting abuse at women who demand services, not just abortions but also contraceptives, prenatal help, and cheap medical care. And again, by forcing these clinics to close, the economic disparity is reinforced. Regardless of the downsides, wealthy and middle-class women can seek out services wherever they are offered. The poor, however, are, as is too often the case, excluded from affordable options, trapped in a vicious circle of poverty and too many unwanted children. I’d like to think Kathy has an alternative for these women. Maybe not.
See it in a theater or on HBO, but see it for its unbiased approach to an issue where neither side will ever concede.
Opening Friday, August 12 at ArcLight Hollywood.