"Abortion: Stories Women Tell," directed by Tracy Droz Tragos, looks at one of America's most contentious debates through the prism of personal stories.
The documentary is set in Missouri, where Droz Tragos hails from. The state has one of the toughest abortion laws on the books. Currently, there is only one operative clinic. A seventy-two-hour waiting period was enacted in 2014, with no exception for rape or incest.
Missouri women seeking an abortion travel to the Hope Clinic for Women in Granite City, Illinois. It's located fifteen minutes away from the downtown area of St. Louis.
Droz Tragos follows the intimate accounts of women as they grapple with the impact of their pregnancies and how the crisis impacts the trajectory of their lives. The insights revealed are quite different from the political pronouncements of elected officials.
A parallel narrative tracks "pro-life" advocates who want to abolish abortion. They are deeply influenced by religious beliefs. They plant themselves at the Hope Clinic to confront patients with graphic photographs, statues of the Virgin Mary, and invective laced with praise for the Lord.
It's an exhausting and disturbing look at two sets of belief systems that are miles apart.
A husband and wife discuss learning that their developing twelve-week-old has a skull that has not formed and is missing limbs. The genetic defects mean that there will not be survival beyond birth. They self-identify as Christians, who had the support of their pastor in their difficult decision to terminate.
Not all the stories end with an abortion. Te'Aundra, who had dreams of improving her life through higher education, keeps her baby. She had been working two jobs and had been offered a basketball scholarship. Te'Aundra was willing to give up the baby for adoption, but the father was not in agreement with that decision (which could create problems for the adoptive parents down the line). However, he had no interest in helping to raise the child.