The Athena Film Festival prides itself on promoting films that encourage women in leadership. Their cinematic choices, however, are poor.
In a recent “Works in Progress” screening to feature their forthcoming films for February 2015, the festival allowed an audience to get a glimpse of three documentaries in the process of being made. Organizers showed clips of each film, giving attendees the chance to react and ask the directors questions.
They didn’t save the best for the last.
The third and final film came courtesy of Dawn Porter, a filmmaker who produced the 2013 HBO documentary Gideon’s Army, which followed three "idealistic" public defenders in the Deep South who were trying to challenge a "criminal justice system nearing its breaking point." Her new documentary,
A look at the impact of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws in the southern United States, and their disproportionate effect on women living in poverty. Trapped follows the physicians, staff, and patients of abortion clinics in Alabama and Mississippi as they struggle to remain open in an increasingly hostile legal and political climate. The film follows clinic owners June Ayers, and Diane Derzis and Dr. Willie Porter, one of only a few doctors courageous enough to perform abortions in the Deep South.
Porter introduced the film to the audience by explaining that the few remaining clinics left in the state of Mississippi and Alabama were “under siege” thanks to Republican politicians:
“After the 2010 election - all of this happened since that election. There is more anti-choice legislation since 2010 than in all the time since Roe. While Roe v. Wade may still be in place, all that legislation is threatening public clinics.”
The video clip Porter provided featured an abortionist making fun of the regulations by referring to them as “jigsaw puzzles,” which raised some chuckles from the audience. I would argue that the only thing that's puzzling is how women can willingly promote these dangerous procedures and treat abortionists - instead of unborn babies - as victims.
Trapped isn't the only film that has attempted to sympathize with abortionists. After Tiller, a film that came out in 2013, followed four late-term abortionists who were following in the footsteps of George Tiller, a late-term abortionist murdered in 2009. After Tiller lionized these abortion workers as if they were performing feats of heroism every day by continuing to perform the procedures in the midst of strong opposition.
The fact this film is part of a pro-woman film festival would be laughable if abortion wasn’t such a serious subject. These abortionists are not “courageous.” Every day they deny children their right to life. The abortion regulations being championed in the South are what should really be celebrated. They’ve succeeded in shuttering clinics, which will help to save thousands of unborn lives from the pain of abortion, as well as shield women from the regret and depression that often accompany the procedure. But, those unfortunate facts wouldn’t fit Porter’s dramatic plot.
Trapped should be scrapped.