Maisie Crow’s look at the battle over abortion in Mississippi debuted at Los Angeles this Summer. Screenings followed at Human Rights Watch, San Francisco Doc, GlobeDocs, Marfa, Sidewalk, and the upcoming New Orleans fests.
The third of three feature-length docs to debut this year following Dawn Porter’s Sundance winner TRAPPED and Tracy Droz Tragos’ Tribeca title ABORTION: STORIES WOMEN TELL, Crow’s film offers another look at the impact of restrictive laws against clinics designed to essentially circumvent Roe v Wade and make abortion illegal. The setting here is denoted by her film’s title, Jackson MS, where a single remaining abortion clinic faces a ticking clock towards closure unless the courts invalidate one such law. In the meantime, clinic director Shannon Brewer, doctors, and staff continue their work despite constant harassment from anti-abortion advocates, including an act of vandalism caught on security camera. Not too far away, Barbara Beavers champions her own cause at the Center for Pregnancy Choices, one of a series of pro-life funded clinics often located in poorer neighborhoods that doggedly tries to convince pregnant woman that abortion is never the answer. April Jackson, a young single mother of four, visits the center, unclear about its political leanings and ultimately decides to keep her fifth child despite the financial hardship. While Beavers serves as something of a mentor for April, the former’s insistence on abstinence as the only acceptable form of birth control sees predictable results by the film’s end. Largely keeping her focus to this microcosm, Crow crafts an empathetic portrait of a seemingly unending debate and the lives it affects.