Unborn in the USA: Inside the War on Abortion

69. Unborn in the USA: Inside the War on Abortion (2007) [Not Rated]

summary from amazon.com:

Traveling across 35 states, the filmmakers are granted unprecedented access to pro-life groups, movement icons, fund-raising machines, and even into classes where university students are being groomed to carry empathetic, pro-life messages to campuses around the country. More than 70 exclusive interviews are interwoven with astonishing archival footage and startling street confrontations to document one of the most controversial social movements in American history.

a documentary directed by: Stephen Fell and Will Thompson

Conservative Review:
James Bowman

Here’s a good interview from Christianity Today with the two directors of the documentary.

Here are a couple of reviews from people who are very far from the pro-life side:
The Reeler



[written on screen:]

On April 18, 2007, the Supreme Court upheld the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban with a 5-4 decision.

“Today’s decision is alarming… [It] cannot be understood as anything other than an effort to chip away at a right declared again and again by this Court.”

— Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
(The only woman on the bench)

It was the first major victory for the pro-life movement in 35 years.

Part 1:

[written on screen:]

Focus on the Family is the largest religious-right group in the United States.

It is located on a 49-acre campus with its own zip code in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Three times a year, Focus on the Family selects 88 college students to attend its Institute.

Students earn one academic semester of credit for passing five courses on traditional Christian values.

The class on abortion training is taught by the pro-life group Justice for All.

interviews with:

Steve Wagner, Pro-Life Trainer
David Lee, Director, Justice For All
Grant Cheney, Focus Institute student

some relevant links:

Focus on the Family
Focus Institute
Justice for All

snippet from a review of the documentary:

The film starts with a training session for students in Justice for All, at the headquarters of Focus on the Family, the conservative Christian organization, in Colorado. Steve Wagner, a pro-life trainer, shows the students a video demonstrating how not to interact with the public: a young woman defends abortion by explaining that she was raped at the age of 13 and got pregnant, and pro-life activists criticize and verbally attack her. The whole point of the training is to make sure the pro-life activists remain calm, to facilitate discussion, and are never judgmental towards individuals they encounter. Yet at the same time, they bring a huge display with posters of fetuses and the remains of fetuses that have been aborted. They ask students on campus their opinions and try to get them to think about what they have seen. For most of these student activists, their actions are based on their Christian convictions, and they aim to show their love for the people they encounter, even when they get shouted at.

[written on screen:]

The Justice for All exhibit is an 18-foot tall, 3-sided billboard picturing aborted fetuses, holocaust victims, and executions.

The disruptive exhibit has been displayed on campuses nationwide since 2001.

review snippet:

Most pro-life activists compare themselves to those who fought against slavery or fought against tyranny in Nazi Germany or the Stalinist Soviet Union. They believe that most people are blind to the terrible crimes that are going on around them, and often they refer to the wide-spread practice of abortion as genocide. The fact that the pictures are horrible is in their view a direct reflection of the horror of abortion. As one woman says, they are there to provoke and disturb, in the hope that they will wake people up. Another activist says that people need to see these pictures. Yet others find that these tactics are completely unreasonable and counterproductive, and are outraged by them.

[written on screen:]

Justice for All chooses Colorado State University as its next destination.

The Focus Institute students are required to help them.

Interviews with:

Julie A. Parton, Ph.D., PRM Director, Focus on the Family
Steven Ertelt, Pro-Life Journalist, Lifenews.com
Peggy Hartshorn, Ph.D., President, Heartbeat International
Joe Scheidler, Founder, Pro-Life Action League

some relevant links:

Heartbeat International
Pro-Life Action League

[written on screen:]

In 2004, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, containing graphic images of torture, became the highest grossing R-rated film of all time.

review snippet:

Things get interesting when the subject turns to Jesus and whether he would have used graphic images to put his message across, at which point The Passion of the Christ takes center stage

Part 2:

[written on screen:]

The world’s best-known abortion clinic is in Wichita, Kansas.

interviews with:

Troy Newman, President, Operation Rescue West
Tim Wiesner, Executive Director, Choices Medical Clinic

relevant links:

Troy Newman and Operation Rescue
Choices Medical Clinic

review snippet:

Workers at church-supported “crisis pregnancy centers” like Choices Medical Clinic in Wichita, Kans., located a few feet from the abortion clinic where an Army of God member shot Dr. George Tiller in 1993, show pregnant women vivid, 4-D sonograms of their fetuses in an attempt to dissuade them from having abortions. Like the smiling, pink-and-blue swaddled fetus dolls crafted by Rachel Early, also interviewed, the images put human faces on undeveloped fetuses.

[written on screen:]

On April 19, 1993, Dr. George Tiller was shot in both arms outside his Wichita clinic by a member of the Army of God.

Interview with:

Rev. Don Spitz, Pentecostal Minister, Army of God

[written on screen:]

More than 40 abortion clinic bombings have occurred since 1977, with the last reported in 2001.

Interviews with:

John Brockhoeft, convicted abortion clinic bomber, Army of God
Father Frank Pavone, Catholic Priests for Life
Dr. Anthony Levatino, former abortion doctor, now Pro-Lifer
Steve Wetzel, pro-life activist
Pastor Matt Trewhella, Founder, Missionaries to the Preborn
Nellie Gray, President, March For Life

relevant links:

Father Frank Pavone and Catholic Priests for Life
Missionaries to the Pre-Born
Dr. Anthony Levatino, former abortion doctor, now Pro-Lifer
March For Life and Nellie Gray

3 review snippets:

Next, Fell and Thompson consider the growing antipathy between extremists like the Army of God, who openly support firebombing “abortion mills” and murdering doctors who perform the procedure, and more mainstream right-wing groups, who increasingly advocate the sympathetic-outreach approach. At a large rally in Washington, women from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign hold signs reading “I regret my abortion,” while others recount the physical and psychological trauma they suffered after terminating their pregnancies. Had they known the facts, they say, they would have decided differently

As the film demonstrates, this is a movement that has grown more sophisticated and diverse in recent years. It still includes terrifying nutcases like the Rev. Don Spitz, self-appointed leader of the Army of God, which advocates killing abortion doctors and blowing up clinics, and is still largely based in hard-line elements of various Christian faiths. But it also includes the “post-abortion” movement, meaning women who now say they regret having abortions and mourn their unborn babies. Irrespective of political logic or coherence, it’s impossible for any adult, and especially any parent, to watch these women testify without a lump in your throat.

Yet I don’t quite like the built-in tendentiousness of the film’s interviews with a couple of apologists for violence against abortion clinics and doctors. True, these are balanced by a priest who says that such people are really more like the enemy: “They’re pro-choice,” he says, “because the pro-choice movement has been telling us for decades that sometimes it’s OK to end a life to solve a problem.” But the presence of such people in the documentary suggests — and is meant to suggest — a logical and moral continuum between the peaceful protesters and the killers. Perhaps bringing the latter into the argument is just the film-makers’ way of averting their gaze from some of abortion’s less savory moral implications.

Part 3:

[written on screen:]

More people attend the “March For Life” than any other annual protest in the U.S.

Interviews with:

Wendy Wright, President, Concerned Women For America
Janet Morana, Silent No More Campaign

relevant links:

Concerned Women For America
Silent No More

[written on screen:]

The American Cancer Society’s position, along with the overwhelming medical consensus, is that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer.

review snippet:

Mostly, however, Messrs Fell and Thompson eschew sardonic commentary or ridiculous subjects and allow the pro-life activists who are their main subject a fair opportunity to tell their own story in their own way. Only once do they step in to “correct” the views of a pro-life subject. When a woman claims from personal experience that there is “definitely a link between abortion and breast cancer” they hustle onto the screen a card informing us that the “overwhelming medical consensus” is that there is not. Do tell!

Interview with:

Rachel Early, Pro-Life Artist

relevant link:

Rachel Early, who creates life-sized sculptures of fetuses at various developmental stages

review snippet:

humane portraits of people who’ve given burials to fetuses thrown out by abortion clinics and, most touchingly, a woman who uses arts and crafts to capture the development of the fetus from inception to delivery as a means of coping with the loss of a miscarried child.

Part 4:

[written on screen:]

Since 1973, pro-choice groups have fought to keep abortion legal.

On April 25, 2004, pro-choice groups joined together for the “March for Women’s Lives” in opposition to President Bush’s policy on abortion

It was the largest protest in American history.

Interview with:

Johnathan O’Toole, Army of God

[written on screen:]

In 2004, the Bush-Cheney campaign hired MDS Communications to exclusively handle all donor acquisitions and telephone fundraising.

MDS is also the primary fundraiser for the most powerful pro-life groups in the United States.

Interview with:

Jay Mount, Founder, MDS Communications

[written on screen:]

Signing of Partial-Birth Abortion Ban
November 5, 2003

In 1994, Congress passed the FACE Act, prohibiting the physical obstruction of clinics for anyone seeking to obtain reproductive health services.

The restrictions imposed by the FACE Act left many pro-life activists searching for a legal alternatives.

Pro-Life groups across America use the protesting methods pioneered by Matt Trewhella.

Joe Scheidler adopted the methods in his “Face the Truth” tours throughout Illinois in 2000.

Interview with:

Monica Miller, Ph.D., Photographer

relevant link:

Monica Miller’s Citizens for a Pro Life Society

[written on screen:]

In the mid-1980s, Monica Miller and Joe Scheidler collected 3,000 clinically-aborted fetuses.

Miller’s photographs of these fetuses continue to be used by pro-life groups across the country.

a few snippets from multiple reviews:

Late in Stephen Fell and Will Thompson’s documentary “Unborn in the USA,” there’s an angry altercation between a passing pedestrian — a woman, presumably a liberal with pro-choice views — and a group of antiabortion protesters who are displaying some of those gruesome poster-size photos of aborted fetuses on a street in Flint, Mich. (I think it’s pure accident that this happens in Michael Moore’s hometown.)

Visibly livid and horrified, the woman begins screaming angrily at the church pastor who’s leading the protest. At first he remains calm, but when she insists that she’s a better Christian than he is, he tells her she’s a hypocrite and calls her “a servant of Satan.” She slaps his face once, then twice, and in the ensuing melee ends up hitting his 3-year-old son, presumably by accident. Handcuffed and led away by police, she screams and sobs, utterly unable to control herself.

That woman is not the only pro-choice passerby provoked to irrational rage in this film by the pro-lifers and their pictures of chopped-up fetuses, although she’s the only one who escalates to actual violence. The pictures, I am sorry to report, appear to be legitimate. In the 1980s, before disposal methods at abortion clinics became more sophisticated, anti-abortion activists scavenged hundreds of fetal remains from dumpsters and used them to create their infamous photographic library, since reproduced for protests in virtually every large city, college campus or state capital across the country.

Perhaps the most revealing as well as the most dramatic moment of Unborn in the USA comes near the end when an anonymous young woman confronts the Rev. Matt Trewhella. The director of an organization called “Missionaries to the Preborn,” Mr Trewhella travels the country with a group of supporters, many of them children, who hold up giant posters of aborted fetuses by the sides of busy highways. The young woman, who claims to be pro-life and a churchgoer herself, doesn’t like to have to see such things and tells him so. The Rev. Matt tells her that he’s glad she’s upset — that, in fact, it is what he was going for, since most people are simply indifferent to the fate of these poor innocents. Thereupon, the woman screams at him: “You’re creating indifference! You’re creating indifference by doing this!”

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the wit to reply: “Yeah, I can see that now,” but the tragi-comedy of the moment is not lost.

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5 Responses to Unborn in the USA: Inside the War on Abortion

  1. Pingback: Welcome | Abortion in Film

  2. every baby born a wanted baby says:

    I tried to watch this documentary, unfortunately, I was unable to because of the extremely poor sound quality. I am hard of hearing and even with my TV sound turned all the way up the scenes filmed in the classroom situations were so muffled and low as to be useless.

    I hope maybe someday the film will be captioned, at the very least film makers should be aware of poor sound conditions and caption what is said during those scenes, that seems kind of obvious to me. Even if you are able to hear what they say the next scene that comes along would be so loud as to be rude and disruptive.

    I am very disappointed about this.

    I grew up in a religious home with parents that loved Dobson and his ilk and were active in the antichoice movement, but when I grew up and realused that there is more to life than the narrow, judgemental, pick from the Bible what phrases support your point and put everyone else down as godless hethans would have you believe, I changed my tune.

  3. JW says:

    I watched this with my husband last night and I have to agree with the above poster, the sound quality was awful. That aside, I enjoyed the film and to me it was proof that there are people out there who want to close their eyes and ears to the truth. A baby is a baby, a human being, whether at 3 weeks gestation or 40 weeks gestation. The pro choicers want to justify their actions by saying it is a blob of tissue with no feelings. My response to those people, including that hysterical women towards the end who slapped that pastor, would be, if you think it’s just a blob of tissue, then you shouldn’t be so upset or offended by the pictures……right? After all, according to you, it’s just a blob of tissue! Today, with ultrasounds giving us the ability to see our unborn developing and moving around in the womb, we have even less excuse for killing them. I am expecting my first baby and I can tell you after seeing several ultrasounds of him already, I am thoroughly convinced he is a human being with feelings. I don’t agree with bombing abortion clinics, showing up at rallies to spew hatred and abuse at those who don’t agree with me, and physically trying to prevent people from going into abortion clinics, but I certainly am in favor of shocking people with the truth. They don’t like it, but they need to hear (and see) it.

  4. c5abortion says:

    thanks for the comments, you two!

  5. Don Flood says:

    What happened to the woman near the end of the movie who got arrested? Was she charged with anything? Convicted? What, if any, did she have to say after the incident that day?

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