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Documentary 'Trapped' Highlights Abortion Providers' Struggles Amid TRAP Laws

February 2, 2016 — A new documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival Sunday explores the effects of targeted regulation of abortion providers, or TRAP laws, on abortion clinics and staff, the Texas Observer reports.

The film debuts in theaters March 4, and will air on PBS' "Independent Lens" in June. The filmmakers want to show the film as many times as possible before the Supreme Court issues a ruling in June on several contested TRAP provisions in Texas' omnibus antiabortion-rights law (HB 2).

Film Exposes TRAP Laws, Spotlights Emotional, Spiritual Lives of Providers, Advocates

Directed by Dawn Porter, "Trapped" follows abortion providers, clinic owners and staff in Alabama, Mississippi and Texas working to comply with abortion restrictions while continuing to provide care. According to Porter, the documentary focuses on the last three independent abortion clinics in Alabama. Porter said she opted to focus on Alabama because of Willie Parker, an abortion provider featured in the film who moved back to the state after spending several years living in Chicago and traveling to southern states to provide care.

According to the Observer, the documentary "shows viewers the absurdity of poorly conceived regulations that, variously: require adherence to incomplete or even non-existent sections of statute, force providers to keep on hand medically unnecessary equipment that often goes unused, and mandat[e] wastefulness -- in one Texas clinic, the cost of replacing certain unused medicines, required by law, runs $1,100 per month."

Notably, the documentary also debunks the "politically popular" division between religion and abortion rights by focusing on the personal lives of providers and abortion-rights advocates, the Observer reports. According to theObserver, many of the film's subjects said they had spiritual or religious motivations for supporting abortion access.

For example, after the film's screening, Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO of Whole Woman's Health and lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case over HB 2, said her faith led her to work in abortion care. Similarly, Dalton Johnson, owner of a clinic in Huntsville, Ala., discussed the support he receives from his church and how his decision to operate a clinic is integrated in his faith. Parker also talked about his faith and how he has become closer to his family after telling them about his work (Schrantz, Texas Observer, 1/29).