By age 45, 30% of US women will have had an abortion.
However, over half of U.S. women also, “live in a state, hostile or extremely hostile to abortion rights,” which includes states trying to ban abortion altogether and states that make getting an abortion past a certain point in pregnancy illegal. Hostile states also include states that have other road blocks, such as having a limited numbers of clinics and refusing to accept health insurance as a form of payment, in the way of getting access to an abortion.
Award-winning indie director Tracy Droz Tragos wanted to change the conversations we have about abortion by asking women about their own experiences with the procedure. Her new film, “Abortion: Stories Women Tell” made its debut last month at the Tribeca Film Festival, and focuses specifically on the women Droz Tragos considers the most unheard from in the abortion movement — women from her home state of Missouri. Tragos states, “[Missouri is] one of the most restrictive [states] in the country” in regards to abortion.
Missouri only has one health clinic that performs abortions in the entire state; the rest can only provide abortion referrals, either to the one Missouri clinic that does offer abortions, or to nearby out-of-state clinics. Women in Missouri must receive “informed consent” from a doctor in order to have an abortion. In addition to this they must also endure a mandatory 72-hour waiting period after consent is given and before the abortion is performed. “The 72-hour waiting period in Missouri means lost work and lost wages, and the effect of that is pretty severe and unfair,” Droz Tragos said.
The state also requires minors to obtain parental consent before getting an abortion, and only allows abortions to be covered by Medicaid in the case of rape, incest, or life-endangerment. And that’s only if you’re less than 21 weeks and 6 days pregnant; once you hit the 22-week mark, abortion is completely illegal.
Naturally, when you live in a state as anti-abortion as Missouri, it’s not exactly the easiest subject for women to talk about, especially in front of the camera. “My film and the goal of advancing the conversation relied on their stories – but who wants to go public on something like this?” Droz Tragos wrote on Indiewire. “Especially in Missouri? Being part of a documentary like this takes tremendous courage.”
In order to make this film happen, Droz Tragos and her crew had to be incredibly patient; and the women who shared their stories of having an abortion had to be extremely brave.
“For the women who ultimately chose to be on camera, there was often a strong desire to speak of their choice, to shed some measure of the stigma they knew they faced,” Droz Tragos wrote.
Many of the women in the film also spoke to their desire of helping other women who face similar barriers when trying to access safe, legal abortions. However, Droz Tragos didn’t want to solely portray a single perspective throughout the film; she also spoke to women who feel strongly against abortion. “There isn’t a poster child for abortion,” Droz Tragos told Elle. “Women have so many different feelings [about it].”
“Abortion: Stories Women Tell” will air soon on HBO. Droz Tragos’ hope for the film is that viewers will leave with a new understanding of the complexities of abortion, and be able to hear a diverse range of women’s feelings on the subject. “All kinds of women have abortions—whether they’re pro-life or pro-choice. It’s not a one-size-fits-all, and I just hope people come away with more compassion for women,” Droz Tragos said.
Watch the “Abortion: Stories Women Tell” trailer here:
Image courtesy of “Abortion: Stories Women Tell” Facebook.