New Documentary Reveals Just Hard It Can Be to Get an Abortion in the South

By Miriam Zoila Pu00e9rez Mar 08, 2016

What is it like to work for one of the last remaining abortion providers in the state? "TRAPPED," a new documentary by Dawn Porter, provides an up-close-and-personal view of just that for the few remaining clinics in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. The title refers to the impact of TRAP laws, regulations that pro-choice advocates say are solely designed to put abortion providers out of business. 

The situation—particulary in states with aggressively anti-choice legislatures—is extreme. Independent providers across the nation are facing hundreds of bills that can severely limit or end their ability to practice. TRAP laws often require providers to get hospital admitting priveliges in fiercely anti-abortion communities and to make expensive space modifications more akin to centers that do major surgeries. These rules also sweep up people who only do medication abortions, those without a single incision. That’s not to mention the ongoing targeting of Planned Parenthood by anti-choice politicians who want to defund the nation’s leading reproductive health care organization.

In "TRAPPED," we see clinic owners and managers struggling to follow law after law. We meet Willie Parker, an African-American doctor who travels many miles to the last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi and faces constant harassment from mostly White protesters. We watch an understaffed Texas clinic turn away a 13-year-old rape victim who traveled from across the state.

Millions of U.S. women live hundreds of miles from the nearest abortion provider. Six states have only one abortion provider—Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Louisiana could have become the seventh if the Supreme Court hadn’t temporarily stopped a state TRAP law from going into effect last week. Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, the important case that the Supreme Court will decide on by June, will determine whether things get better or worse.

"TRAPPED" hit independent theaters in New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles on March 4. It will be screened in a handful of other cities starting on March 11. Check here for information.