Whether you are for abortion, or against it, this documentary is designed to make one think. Filmmaker Tracy Droz Tragos tries to shed some light on a subject that is once again at the forefront of national news. HBO’s Abortion: Stories Women Tell covers interviews with women from all races and classes, telling their stories as well those of the healthcare practitioners working at the only abortion clinic in Missouri.
For those who don’t know, why is there only one abortion clinic in the state of Missouri?
Because TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws have forced clinics to close or made it too onerous for doctors to provide care. There are clinics across Missouri, like the Columbia Planned Parenthood, which are desperately trying to overcome these restrictions and provide care.
Does the documentary cover women from all economic backgrounds?
Absolutely, it was important to give voice to women from many different backgrounds, otherwise the film would be too easy to dismiss. We included as many stories as we thought the film could contain – and hope that audiences will be motivated to share their own. The reality is that one in three women will face an unplanned pregnancy before they are 40. So many women, from all walks of life, will be faced with this personal decision.
What is the biggest obstacle faced by clinic administrators and why?
Clinic administrators are burdened with many obstacles, it’s hard to identify just one. Burnout is a reality for many in abortion care, because while the work is rewarding, the strain of outside judgment and harassment can take a toll.
Funding, inspections, hallway-width, but the real hardship is when it comes to laws that interfere with the doctor/patient relationship, and require doctors to say and do things that are not medically indicated.
Based on what you’ve learned, what is women’s biggest fear about unplanned pregnancy?
No one wants to be faced with an unwanted pregnancy. I think the fear is in not being able to access the care you need, especially now. It’s one thing to come to a personal decision – it’s another thing not to be able to act on it due to laws that are designed to impeded access and ultimately make women give up.
Are there solid arguments showed for activists on both sides?
This film is not so much about arguments, as it is about personal stories and personal decision-making. In 90-minutes, the film explores many women’s stories, without judgment or moralizing.
What drew you to this story?
I was honored to have been approached by Sheila Nevins and Sara Bernstein at HBO Documentary Films. We had a conversation about how women’s voices were being drowned out by the talking points of politicians – what if we made a film without all that noise and heard directly from women instead? As a filmmaker, I am deeply drawn to this approach – and especially in the current political climate, this film felt urgent to make.
Watch ‘Abortion: Stories Women Tell’ on HBO April 3, at 8pm.