Too often, legislative decisions surrounding access to abortion are made by men, that is, people whose bodies are not affected by the laws in question. Documentary filmmaker Tracy Droz Tragos (like many others) directed correct how problematic it was, so she decided to make a movie out of it. With Abortion: Stories told by womenTragos asked women to share their own experiences with abortion to grasp the complex reality of the legislation on the issue.
Abortion: Stories told by women began when Tragos and a handful of other women working in the industry decided to make a film capturing a new, unique and contemporary narrative about abortion. “We wanted to do something that really focuses on women and takes the conversation away from the political, instead of the intimate and personal,” Tragos told SELF. “That’s where it all started. We wanted to elevate the voices of women who we felt were just not being heard.” And since Tragos knew that his home state of Missouri had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country (they had just passed a law mandating a 72-hour waiting period between consultation and the abortion procedure), she decided to go there and immerse herself in the matter.
Tragos tells the stories of a variety of women, all of whom have unique perspectives on abortion law. Many have advocated for increased access to abortion – opening up about their experiences of having to cross state lines just to get to the nearest clinic. Others have expressed opposing views, speaking out in favor of more limited access to abortion and protesting against women’s health organizations like Planned Parenthood. Although Tragos says she has her own very strong opinions on the subject, she has taken a balanced and unbiased approach to her cinema. She says what mattered to her was painting a real, dynamic and honest picture of women and their views on abortion, not pushing her personal political agenda.
“We wanted to include as many stories as possible, so there was a cumulative effect that could tell the story of abortion,” says Tragos. “In the end, I hope [the viewer] comes away with more compassion and more understanding that women approach this from many different angles. All kinds of women get abortions, whether pro-life or pro-choice. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution, and I just hope people come away with more compassion for women.”
Tragos aired its documentary at this month’s Tribeca Film Festival. The film will soon arrive on HBO, where it will be available for wide-scale streaming. Watch an exclusive clip from the film below.
Photo credit: Getty/Larry Busacca