Directed by Dawn Porter. Screenplay, Porter, Sari Gilman | Camera (color, HD), Nadia Hallgren, Chris Hilleke; editor, Gilman; music, Paul Brill, Elizabeth Ziman; sound, Chris Burns, Jacob “Cubby” Falls, Judy Karp, Francisco Latorre, David Schumacher, Bob Silverthorne, Tyrell Williams; re-recording mixer, Pete Horner; line producer, Jennifer Partin; associate producers, Amanda Goscinski, Dana Kalmey
The option for choice when it comes to the reproductive health of American women continues to be a center point of political battles for many groups. It is a battle that has been fought for decades even after the ruling of Roe v. Wade in 1973. Today that war seems to be strengthening as America continues to divide itself into two major perspectives; right wing conservatism saturated in culturally accepted religious traditions and left wing liberalism saturated in a progressive standpoint.
Trapped introduces us to several doctors who are in a current fight with their state governments and religious conservative groups that are passionately fighting to shut down their women’s health care clinics by any means necessary. We often are presented with the narrative of the abortion debate through the lens of the patients and the political opponents, but never the doctors and nurses who provide the services. The Dawn Porter film gives us insight to the many and oftentimes extreme working conditions these individuals now face. A typical day at work seems to be met with harassing phone calls, excessive state inspections and site visits, public ridicule along with daily protests outside resulting in threats to their safety.
With the passing of laws like House Bill 2(HB2), a Texas law that held clinics to absurdly abnormal standards, the majority of clinics in the state have had to shut down leaving literally a handful of clinics still open for services in one of the country’s most populated states. This not only creates a disservice to the residents of the state but also creates a health risk for those same residents. Patients now have to go through a process that can take weeks when in the past could be done in one or two visits. Residents of the state now have to attend multiple appointments, receive additional ultra sounds, and become bombarded with propaganda saturated information sessions that doctors by law are now ordered to present to patients. Many of these new practices and procedures have no impact on providing abortions and create a more rigorous and taunting experience for both patients and doctors.
With only a handful of clinics now operating in the state of Texas patients are forced to drive 3 and 4 hours to the nearest facility for services just to run the risk of being turned around. In the film we witness a 13 year old victim of gang rape be sent away after driving 4 hours because the clinic couldn’t find an anesthesiologist to offer their services to the clinic. She was told that she would have to drive to New Mexico in order to receive help; a trip and procedure that would cost hear nearly $5000 dollars because of the different health care laws within the states. HB2 now requires certain patients to be put to sleep while receiving an abortion. The film showcases the extremities that prevent these clinics from being able to offer their services. Clinics also must have admittance privileges with nearby hospitals in order to operate and can’t be within 2000 feet of a school. Within the past 3 years there have been hundreds of restrictions placed on women’s health care facilities, more restrictions than in the last 20 years.
Trapped aims to not justify abortions but rather present them as a statement of America’s current reality. 1 in 3 women in America will receive an abortion before the age of 45. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice it’s important to recognize that this too is a public safety issue and can’t be regulated by politics and feelings. Another message within the film demonstrates the elements of economic warfare within the new laws and policies. Many of the patients being turned around and rejected from services are working poor Americans and families who don’t live affluent lifestyles. The film works to humanize the doctors and nurses who offer these services. Instead of painting them to be villains or money hungry individuals taking advantage of the health care market we’re introduced to passionate individuals who want to help others that are in a difficult position to make a decision that will affect them in some way or form for the course of their lifetime.
Director, Dawn Porter received the 2016 Sundance Special Jury Prize for ‘Trapped.’ “Trapped’ opens in theaters on March 4th (limited release), two days after the Supreme Court hears a major case on Texas’s current abortion regulations. A ruling is expected in June.