Trapped (2016)

Director: Dawn Porter

Trapped is a very difficult movie to discuss, both in terms of the subject matter and the emotional impact the movie has on the viewer. It also deals with a topic that will affect the viewing experience depending on what the viewer thinks about the subject matter: a topic nobody seems to be impartial or ambivalent about, as far as I am aware, based on everyone I know and have met. This excellent documentary from Dawn Porter is about abortion. More specifically, it discusses not the impact, nor the merit of this medical practice, but rather the fact that in spite it being legal for decades now, many states, especially in the South, have passed debilitating and possibly unconstitutional and illegal regulations and laws that make performing and receiving abortions all but impossible.

Despite Roe v. Wade making abortion legal in the US in 1973, many believe the practice to be inhumane, especially those whose worldview is dictated by their religious beliefs. This has led many states to create legislature that dictates how, when, and where abortions may be performed, with the laws constantly in flux and changing, each time turning more restrictive. Abortion clinics try to keep up with all the regulations, but sometimes such rules are impossible to observe (such as when a law is passed regarding how far a clinic can be from town, schools, etc. – in spite of clinics already existing in contradiction to the new laws). And that is the entire point. The laws are meant to bypass the law of the land, and make something undesirable disappear, regardless if this is moral, let alone legal. It’s a way to circumvent something that has been deemed a right, and to subvert society when it doesn’t conform to one’s religious point of view. It is forcing everyone to follow the morality of the few.

The documentary focuses mostly on those who care for women in need of abortions, and of those unafraid to stand up for their patients: nurses, doctors, and those in charge of the clinics. Hearing their stories, why they fight for these rights, and the struggles and battles they face is inspiring and heartbreaking all at once. Yet, I can see how this film, to those who approach it from a different point of view, could find it unsavory. But this documentary is not making an explicit political statement in favor or against abortion, even though many will believe it is and think I am wrong for saying this. The film is mostly shedding light on a troubling practice that sees people and state politicians attempting to circumnavigate the federal government and a supreme court ruling in favor of their own beliefs and deciding they know better, that their opinion is more important, that their beliefs trump everyone else’s. The fact of the matter is that the law, unless changed, should be the standard, and that democracy, constitution, and civil society is for the many, and not just the few. No single ideology should have the upper hand over all others. If only some people actually cared about this country as much as they say they do, and focused less on what they want and instead on what the population as a whole desires, the world would be a little bit better.

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