On Wednesday, May 4, Brianna Gutierrez ’17 and Nazhonnii Brown-Almaweri ‘17 showed “Trapped”, a documentary by Dawn Porter that brings attention to the war on reproductive rights in southern states. While the clash between pro-life and pro-choice is always a heavy-hitting topic, “Trapped” proved to be a unique voice in the debate.
The film opened with people working at an abortion clinic answering phone calls, but being unable to provide much assistance to women on the other line. It quickly becomes evident that state legislatures are suffocating abortion clinics, rendering them nearly, if not useless in the face of TRAP laws.
TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws are mechanisms pro-life legislators use to slowly close abortion clinics all across the South. Essentially, they are captious regulations which force clinics to either accommodate, costing owners thousands or even millions to stay open, or close. While some politicians, like Senator Wendy Davis of Texas, have taken the stand to fight TRAP laws, the number of politicians against abortion, most of whom are male, outnumbers those who are pro-choice.
All these factoids on the current pro-life/pro-choice debate are often seen on social media, but the narrative makes sure to take on a new perspective. Enter Dr. Willie Parker, one of the few licensed doctors who perform abortions in the south.
We first see Dr. Parker as he’s entering the clinic and casually ignoring a lone protester as if doing so were routine. He provides abortion services for women in Alabama and Mississippi because he has a strong sense of duty when it comes to supporting reproductive rights. This drive to help others stems from feminism and his commitment to Christianity.
This is where “Trapped” takes off in a new direction. When pro-choice people craft a counterargument against those who are pro-life, religion comes under fire. Dr. Parker breaks the archetype for pro-life and pro-choice individuals, and he is not the only one. June Ayers and Marva Sadler work at an abortion clinic and are also practicing Christians.
But “Trapped” doesn’t stop at proving that there are religious people who are fighting for reproductive rights; it also takes into account how the women who are getting abortions are faced with an extremely tough decision.
Often times, people might assume that women getting abortions are just being lazy or flippantly deciding to not have a baby. This documentary squashes such stereotypes. As it turned out, many of the women interviewed on their decision to have an abortion were already mothers who were working full time jobs. With work and other children to raise, they could not afford to take time off and raise another child. “Trapped” put heavy emphasis on the mother’s point of view, but it did not forget to let the voice of young girls be heard. One teenager had gotten an abortion because she wasn’t ready to have a child yet — she was far too young and unequipped to raise the child. The decision was ultimately the right one for her, but that does not mean that there won’t be any emotional scarring. The biggest problem women who get abortions face is finding the strength and will to forgive themselves.
Although the topic is heavy, “Trapped” brought important voices to the floor while managing to sprinkle some humor in. Ayers, for example, feels a strong need to water the grass with sprinklers when protesters picket her clinic. It also shows a clash of ideologies within a context that is often not talked about in debates, since they confound the simplified pro-life/pro-choice arguments. In the end, southern clinics are fighting hard to stay open, but women are still trapped in a society where politics trumps medicine. Although there has been much progress made in regards to abortion laws, “Trapped” reminds the audience that there is still much work to be done and the fight is far from over.