Film tackles abortion rights in America

In Campus News, News
Pamela Fiber-Ostrow, Ph.D., associate professor of political science, talks to students who attended the film screening of “Trapped,” a documentary about female reproductive health in the United States.
(Katie Albertson/Daily Titan)

Cal State Fullerton’s Moot Court Club, in association with the Division of Politics, Administration and Justice, screened the film “Trapped,” which highlights modern issues facing women’s reproductive health freedom in the United States on Wednesday.

“Trapped” is a documentary that follows one of the latest landmark abortion cases, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which presented arguments to the Supreme Court in March. The Center for Reproductive Health represents the abortion clinics in the case, and a ruling is expected from the Supreme Court in June.

Over the past six years, several states in the South have faced such legislation. These laws are what the Center for Reproductive Rights calls “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers,” or TRAP. Many clinics in the South have been forced to close due to their inability to uphold these rulings, according to the film.

The film focused on the repercussions of the passage of House Bill 2, a bill that Texas legislators passed in 2013 that creating multiple restrictions for abortion services.

“Trapped” also highlights the struggles women face in states like Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama, where bills similar to House Bill 2 are pending and are designed to shutter abortion providers.

House Bill 2, for example, requires doctors who provide abortion services to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital no farther than 30 miles away from the clinic in which they practice. It also requires that each health care facility that offers abortion services must meet particular building specifications to essentially serve as mini-hospitals, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“They just zoom in on doctors who provide abortion services,” said Center for Reproductive Rights President and CEO Nancy Northup, in the film. “They’re designed to make it harder for them to provide those services.”

As more clinics close in the U.S., abortion providers are forced to recommend patients to other abortion services that may not often be in the patient’s vicinity, according to “Trapped.”

In some states like Texas, the nearest open reproductive health provider may be located 200 or more miles away or in another state entirely, the film said. In other instances, open abortion providers are able to accept new patients, but there may be a two-to-three-week-long waiting list for the procedure.

“It’s not just an issue in the South,” said Pamela Fiber-Ostrow, Ph.D., associate professor of political science. “It impacts the states where access is still fairly open.”

Clinic closures in other states may cause California and neighboring states to feel repercussions, she said.

“Every time you have a state that makes it nearly restrictive — if not entirely restrictive — to have abortions, the states around must absorb those patients,” Ostrow said. “Essentially, your ZIP code determines whether you have access to autonomy over your body.”

Often, regulations even require that women engage in informed consent, making them receive counseling prior to receiving abortion services. According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of March 1, 2016, 38 states mandate that women receive counseling before an abortion, and 28 of those require a certain amount of time between counseling and procedure, usually 24 hours.

In some of the most severe cases, women may even consider home options for abortion if clinics are unavailable. The film presented testimonials from women determined to find home solutions, even if they were dangerous or unhealthy.

Kate Mika, entertainment and tourism management major, said that fighting for women’s rights is a collective effort. Just because Californians may not be affected directly by certain oppressive laws, it is still necessary to help others, she said.

“It’s important to dive in and figure out why this is happening,” Mika said. “It’s disheartening to see that historical and systematic oppression is continued and is still such a fight.”

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