When Dawn Porter sent out a notice about a Kickstarter for a film documenting the systematic elimination of abortion clinics in the Southern United States, it was a no-brainer. Of course I would support the film. And when I recently sat in the theater and watched the finished product, I was reminded how important it is to be vigilant and active when women’s autonomy over their bodies is at stake.
TRAPPED, the film Dawn Porter created in response to the injustice pleading for notice from states where legislators had set TRAPs (targeted legislation of abortion providers) with the goal of closing clinics, raises an alarm for those of us nestled in relatively safe havens for reproductive choice. The film makes clear that there is a seedy, conniving web of power-grabbing legislators sharing techniques and language aimed only at removing women’s ability to control their own bodies.
The regulations passed by states like Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas create a desert of services for women who seek to terminate a pregnancy. As in the past, this lack of access affects poor women (and, by the way, those in abusive relationships) hardest and most cruelly. TRAPPED documents tragic situations like a young girl pregnant after a gang-rape, desperately trying to have an abortion before the 12 week mark. Just TWELVE WEEKS after being gang-raped, she is again abused and bullied by (mostly male) legislators and judges who don’t believe she is capable of making a decision about her own body.
TRAPPED also documents a mother who is pregnant and in her 40’s. At the end of her emotional, financial, and physical rope with the care of her children, one of whom has autism, she resolutely wrings her hands as she shares her story. Her discomfort is not due to her decision, but in anticipation of the social judgment she knows awaits her.
I came of age with the knowledge that my body was governed by my own choices when it came to safe and available reproductive choices. Just like all the women I know, I always hoped I wouldn’t need to consider an abortion. And just like most of the women I knew, especially in the age of ACT-UP and interactive demonstrations of condom use, I took precautions to avoid pregnancy, HIV, HPV, and a host of STIs. It was easy because I lived in and attended college in the Northeast where the health clinic was accessible, included in tuition and fees, and staffed with skilled Nurse Practitioners. I took it for granted.
Researched studies and horrifying real-time statistics make it clear that when women can’t access abortions and dependable birth control, they look for other methods, even to the point of risking their fertility, their well-being and their lives.
We live in a village where privileges are only as complete as those of our neighbors. As horrifying and pathetic as it is, we cannot take women’s reproductive health and services for granted in the United States of America. Get involved with groups like Planned Parenthood, spreading the word about films like Trapped, or get involved in groups that advocate for a woman’s right to control her own body.