In 2014, Missouri passed a law requiring women to wait at least 72 hours between a first doctor’s appointment and an abortion. Today, Missouri is one of the toughest states in the country to get the procedure. This is great news for the anti-choices. But for Amie, a 30-year-old single mother featured in Tracy Droz’s harrowing HBO documentary Tragos Abortion: Stories told by womenthe law is just another punitive obstacle.
We first meet Amie on a 150-mile drive from her home in central Missouri to the Hope Clinic, an independent abortion center just over the Illinois state line. In the parking lot, she is berated by screaming protesters wielding Bibles and threatening eternal damnation. A volunteer escorts her inside, where she tearfully explains why she’s come: with two children and a seventy-hour workweek, she can’t afford a newborn.
His story is not uncommon, but it is rare to hear it in the cinema. Many pro-choice documentaries, like the 2013 Emmy Award winner after the bar, focus on women who abort for reasons some anti-choice might find sympathetic – their fetuses would not survive birth. But with one exception, this film does not go there. Rather, they are patients – more than a dozen, including Amie, interviewed at the Hope Clinic – who chose abortion to save their families from further hardship. Most of these women are in dire straits, financially or otherwise, and having a baby would end their lives in ways that weren’t just metaphorical: “If I had had a baby with this man, I would have killed myself,” says a patient. named MJ. “I avoided a disaster”
This doc is a tearjerker, but he’s also rabid. Taken together, these stories add to a larger and deeply disturbing narrative about what it is to be a woman living in America today. Systemic sexism, racism, domestic violence, inadequate health care – society rejects women at every turn, the film claims, and anti-abortion laws further assault women’s rights.
Not everyone interviewed here would agree. Spearheading the Hope Clinic protests is Kathy, a retired practitioner who became an anti-choice protester after she interpreted a literal sign as a sign from God: She saw her middle name, “Anne,” in the word “planned” on the front of a Planned Parenthood. Kathy’s anti-abortion arguments are far from convincing, but it’s a testament to the humane impartiality of the filmmakers that they let her experience teary moments – she truly believes she’s doing what he does. should.
Equally unconvincing is Reagan, a young woman who leads a local Students for Life group. While distributing pamphlets to the student union, she is approached by a pro-choice activist ready to challenge her. A Socratic exchange ensues: “Let’s talk about women who don’t know about contraception, who haven’t been able to educate themselves on it, because Planned Parenthood has been so limited by your organization”, calls out the pro- choice. Agitated and unable to counter, Reagan begins to tear down her stand.
Reagan didn’t do well in this impromptu debate, but that probably didn’t change his mind either. Likewise, Abortion: Stories told by women won’t change your mind much. It’s too simple. But by giving women a platform to tell their personal stories, he bolsters the arguments of those who already agree with him, and he does so with heart-piercing candor.
Abortion: Stories told by women
Directed by Tracy Droz Tragos
Opening August 12, City Cinemas Village East