Though FBI Director James Comey’s hearing on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election managed to suck up most of the oxygen, another story involving governmental intrusion quietly made headlines on Monday: that Tomi Lahren, a far-right flamethrower, was suspended by TheBlaze for confessing to the ladies of The View that she is pro-choice.
“I’m someone that’s for limited government. So I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies,” she explained.
Lahren’s admission comes on the heels of Donald Trump—flanked by a group of men—signing an executive order reinstating the global gag rule, a Reagan-era directive that prohibits the U.S. government from granting funds to international organizations that provide family-planning and reproductive-health services if they include abortions (which will affect millions of lives), as well as Paul Ryan’s new health-care plan, which seeks to both partially defund Planned Parenthood and further limit access to abortion by tightening the restrictions placed by the Hyde Amendment.
All of this makes the new documentary Abortion: Stories Women Tell timelier than ever. The film, premiering April 3rd on HBO, is directed by Tracy Droz Tragos, and contains numerous moving testimonials from women, young to old, who have had abortions.
One of the film’s most moving pleas comes courtesy of Jennifer, a despairing teen in braces, who sobbingly says, “I’m not ready to be a mom yet. It’s hard enough that I’m making this decision, then you have people making you seem like the worst person in the world.”
The aim of the doc, Tragos says, is to give voice to these women, and put a human face on the abortion debate.
“The film, I hope, elevates women’s personal and private decision-making,” she says. “I didn’t want the film to be dismissed as an advocacy piece and just seen as such, because then it lives in an echo chamber, and not a place where we’re hearing from women who may not all agree with each other, but who can look at each other with a compassionate gaze.”
Indeed, Tragos’s film, while decidedly pro-choice, also includes the opinions of women who oppose abortion, as well as women who’ve chosen to see their pregnancy through. Her camera captures these women up-close, sharing perhaps the most intimate story of their lives—with many opening up for the first time about their decision, conveying the sadness, shame, and alienation they felt.
While the movie’s HBO premiere will bring it to a wider audience, Tragos hopes that House Speaker Paul Ryan takes the time to check it out.
“Paul Ryan seems like he might have a reasonable bone in his body,” says Tragos. “You appeal to him on a level of compassion, and a level of: ‘Don’t judge others unless you know where they’re coming from. You need to see who’s affected by what you’re proposing here.’”
As for President Trump, who was pro-choice until his sixties but has since become strongly anti-abortion, even floating the idea of punishment for women who have abortions and provicers during the campaign, Tragos is worried about what the future holds with respect to women’s access to safe and stress-free health care, contraception, and abortion.
“Now, we’re in a very different political climate,” she says. “It’s pretty terrifying and dire, so you need to start looking at what it would look like if we start looking at pre-Roe v. Wade days, where there’s no providers and no access at all. That’s what’s at stake here.”