CLARION, Pa.- Clarion University showed the documentary “Trapped,” an advocacy piece directed by Dawn Porter, which focused on the importance of abortion facility clinics and a nation that is pro-choice. Students gathered to watch and discuss the film on Oct. 11 in the Suites on Main North.
The documentary took place in Alabama, telling the stories of multiple abortion clinics during the debate for reproductive rights, as well as the direct effect of Texas’s HB2 regulations on the surrounding states’ clinics.
During this time, many clinics in Alabama were being forced to close due to the new standards set by the law. There were only five doctors that were approved to do abortions in Alabama, and those five had to travel amongst the dwindling number of still-functioning clinics.
Since the regulations were affecting more than just Alabama, and in some states it was even worse, the remaining clinics were receiving patients from other states. Patients were traveling thousands of miles to receive care that they would have originally been able to receive in their home state.
Gloria Gray, the owner of the West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, was extremely concerned about the health of women that could not spend the money or the time to get to distant clinics.
“Closing the clinics is not going to stop abortions,” she said. The Reproductive Health Services in Birmingham, Alabama has been operating since 1985 under owner June Ayers, and she was very disapproving of the regulations.
“The function is a trap,” she insisted. The other owners featured in the documentary were in full agreement and felt that the government was trapping them into closing their clinics.
“[It’s] not to regulate us; it’s to regulate us out of business,” according to Dalton Johnson, the owner of another clinic in Alabama.
The film also followed the life of Dr. Willie J. Parker, one of the only doctors that had the required certifications to perform abortions during the time of the documentary. Not only did Parker work at multiple clinics in Alabama, but he performed procedures in the only remaining clinic in Mississippi.
Parker considers himself to be a devout Christian, and although many people felt that this should have kept him from performing abortions, he did not feel the same way. He was angered by the government’s insistence on regulating to the point of destroying the clinics, and he continued to perform procedures and advocate against the laws. “They’re letting politics trump medicine,” he said.
The discussion following the documentary, led by Dr. Kathleen Welsch, a professor in the English and Women and Gender Studies departments, and students Stephanie Kulikowski and Natalia Naranjo focused on students’ feelings toward the regulations and abortion itself.
Many students voiced concerns about the difficulty of finding operating clinics in Pennsylvania. “It’s 2016,” one student said. “This shouldn’t still be an issue.”
Students also discussed that even today, abortion is associated with irresponsibility and shame, even though some women that abort are victims of rape. The documentary sparked a lot of discussion and gave students a lot to think about.