September 16, 2008 -- This is an intense, sometimes sickening, documentary about the abortion issue in the United States which reeks of brimstone. It features graphic images of sliced up, aborted foetuses, a near-nude punk rocker inserting a coat hanger into her groin area during a performance, abortion doctors, nurses and security guards who have been killed or maimed by snipers, bombers and other psychopaths, and a variety of unsavory wackos from the religious right who think it is O.K. to kill abortionists.
As scary as it is to see abortions graphically performed in a movie and to see the dead bodies of women due to botched illegal abortions, it is even scarier to contemplate a Taliban-like theocracy in the United States where people can be executed for having beliefs that aren't precisely the same as the approved beliefs of the state. The film briefly explores fundamentalist theology (belief the Bible is literally true, or at least that certain interpretations of the Bible's meanings are totally true). It also touches upon a scary type of political theology known as Christian Reconstructionism. An early seminal text of Christian Reconstructionism is “The Institutes of Biblical Law,” published in 1973. It is a description of one notion of a Christian society, and it has a very long list of death penalties for offenses like abortion, adultery, homosexuality, blasphemy, heresy and apostasy. This, of course, is eerily similar to the Sharia laws in Afghanistan under the Taliban, where one could be put to death for a whole lot of things, including adultery, blasphemy and apostasy.
The film also tells the strange story of Norma McCorvey, better known as Jane Roe in the case of Roe Vs. Wade. She was once a pioneer for abortion rights, but has since switched sides and is now a right to life activist. The film also follows one woman through an abortion. It is not an easy process, or an easy decision. The film has an interview with a security guard who was wounded by a gunman attacking an abortion clinic. There is also an interview with a nurse badly scarred and injured in another attack.
This is a disturbing film with a number of graphic images of violence. There are also disturbing images of true believers spouting messages of intense hate, violence and in some cases, utter nonsense. For all of its black and white images (this is not a color film), however, the film makes the argument that abortion is a gray, complicated issue, with no clear answers, even in the Bible. Opinions on abortion are offered by a variety of talking heads ranging from the far right to the far left, including the noted intellectual, Noam Chomsky. While the film is largely pro-abortion, it does not argue that this is an easy issue to decide. It does argue that the bombing of abortion clinics and the murder of abortion doctors and clinic staffers, has made it harder for women to get abortions. It argues, however, that abortions will always be available to the rich. As usual, poor women always have the fewest reproductive care choices due to cost and rationing. This film rates a B.
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