By: Reagan Nielsen, SFLA Midwest Regional Coordinator
In April, I attended the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City for the premiere of the documentary,Abortion: Stories Women Tell. I was followed for this documentary, along with two other pro-life women, and was shown in my everyday life working for Students for Life of America.
The documentary also followed the pro-abortion side, including an abortionist that performs abortions at Hope Clinic in Granite City, Illinois. I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that the documentary was heavily biased towards the pro-abortion side- showing the difficulties in getting an abortion in Missouri due to the 72-hour waiting period. So for obvious reasons, the three pro-life women followed in the documentary were rarely shown.
The film portrayed the abortionist as a sort of “hero” for these women who had to drive an extra whopping 13 miles (distance from the St. Louis Planned Parenthood) to obtain their abortion. The Hope Clinic unfortunately has some angry protestors and the documentary took advantage of the opportunity to portray the pro-life side as loud, unstable, unloving, and harassing people. In fact, these protestors received at least twice the amount of air time as the three pro-life women who were filmed received…combined.
The scenes including the protestors showed them yelling at the women walking into the facility – telling them to repent. It also showed them holding graphic images of aborted babies right outside the facility.
I personally agree with the use of graphic images, however, not outside of an abortion facility. When women are in the biggest crisis of their lives and scared and filled with fear, do you think they are going to want to listen to the protestors standing outside the facility calling them horrible names? No. The film proved that. The women basically ran into Hope Clinic for “safety.”
It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating because there are so many pro-life organizations that work boldly and compassionately on ending the stigma that all pro-lifers yell and scream at women entering abortion clinics.
It’s frustrating because I see the hurt and fear that women have going into abortion facilities and the anger that passes their faces when they hear the names they are being called, like whores and murderers.
The majority of us are not like that and when the media has the chance to show the pro-life movement in action, they will take every opportunity to show the ones that are in the minority, that are the loudest and sometimes, most hurtful to the movement itself.
So what are the chances that I sat next to the abortionist on the flight home? (I knew there was a reason I was in the documentary.) If I had been one of the protestors she sees every week, the ones that yell and scream at her and her patients, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to talk to her.
Going into the film, we probably both had a stigma attached to the other. I was terrified of being in a room with her, and she most likely assumed I was someone who would call her a murderer and tell her to repent.
It was refreshing for her to see someone who wanted to get to know her instead of condemning her. She acknowledged that the protestors outside of Hope are in the minority and said she appreciated how I genuinely want to help women, especially those that feel they have no choice but abortion while in school.
I’ve been asked many times if I think the film is worth other pro-lifers seeing. My answer is yes. People need to see that there are still pro-lifers out there that truly do harass women outside of the abortion facility. These people are not compassionate and do not approach these women in love by showing them alternatives.
We must make every conscious effort we have to rise above the stigma. We can be courageous pro-life warriors in love. Love is telling people the truth, but in the right way. Different situations call for different measurers. When outside the abortion facility, we know that a woman is scared. We don’t want her to run into the abortion facility because of our words or actions. We want her to run to us because we are showing her hope and love.
And I hope that the abortionist is still thinking about me and our conversation we had on the two-and-a-half-hour flight home, because I still think about her and pray for her every day.