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I saw this at the Traverse City Film Festival and again this week on HBO. The first half of the film shows the workings and methodology of the Pregnancy Care Center, a primarily Catholic Church supported "clinic" for pregnant women located directly across the street from the local abortion clinic on 12th & Delaware in Fort Pierce, Florida. The second half mainly takes a similar but opposite view from inside the abortion clinic. Neither side talks to each other.
The purpose of the Pregnancy Care Center is to persuade women to not have an abortion. If women mistakenly (or not) wander into their building thinking it is the abortion clinic, they hide the fact that they cannot get an abortion there and do an ultrasound and show women the size and appearance of the fetus they are thinking about aborting. And for those that go to the correct corner to get their abortion, the Pregnancy Care Center and their supporters picket in front of the abortion clinic trying to convince (harass?) women who are going into the abortion center to change their minds. They promise the women financial and emotional support if they keep their pregnancies.
The view from the abortion clinic is one of vigilant watchfulness and shuttered privacy. Run for profit by a husband and wife team, their hired physician is brought in by the owners in a souped up Mustang (much to the aggravation of the protesters) with a sheet over the head of the abortionist. There is a lot of looking at security cameras and peeking out of blinds at the Pregnancy Care Center across the street.
Multiple people are interviewed including the protesters, the women seeking abortions (some who go through with it and some who do not), and one of the owners of the abortion clinic (the wife) and the priest and main female volunteer in the Pregnancy Care Center. This is done with almost no commentary letting their words speak for their very different viewpoints.There are crazy and scary people among the demonstrators as well as sympathetic people who deeply believe in the side they have chosen.
In a Q&A after the showing at Traverse City, co-director Heidi Ewing was present and she is obviously pro-choice. Yet this documentary is surprisingly sympathetic to people on both sides. Certainly the Pregnancy Care Center is seen to be deceptive in their practices, but the abortion clinic ends up looking like a seedy and darkly hidden business. The motivation for the Pregnancy Care Center is their faith and that of the abortion clinic appears to pretty much be making a buck.
As a physician of Christian faith who has attempted to help women with the very difficult choice of whether to carry a pregnancy or end it, and who has left the final choice to them and then helped them regardless of their decision, I appreciate how balanced the documentary is. It is too bad the two sides do not ever talk or attempt find common ground.
This is a moving and thought-provoking documentary. You will not regret the time spent watching. 8/10
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