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Unborn in the USA
Provocative and bracing, UNBORN IN THE USA provides a riveting look into the deep secrets and deep pockets of the pro-life movement.
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.
With their 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court affirmed a woman's constitutional right to privacy. In response to that landmark ruling, a new movement-- dedicated to criminalizing abortion-- was born. Now, more than 30 years later, with President George W. Bush's conservative appointments to the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade teeters on the brink of reversal.
UNBORN IN THE USA asks and answers the question, "In the struggle for dominance over a woman's right to privacy, who wins?"
Revealing and dramatic! Allows the pro-life activists a fair opportunity to tell their own story in their own way. --New York Sun
Critic's Pick! Whatever your views on abortion... you need to hear the subjects of this film. --New York Magazine
Straightforward reportage of the most useful kind. --The Nation
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Top customer reviews
As a woman whose long and tortured journey has hardly been unfettered, I welcomed the opportunity to observe the filmmakers as they presented proponents of both sides of the abortion debate. I wished to be challenged, touched and informed. None of us is omnipotent or infallible enough to be unmovable, in my opinion.
For the most part, the producers succeeded. However, they committed one cardinal sin here: allotting inordinate amounts of screen time to the undeserving - on both sides. The eerie sight (and even more repugnant sound) of the Reverend Don Spitz drives this point home with some ferocity. An advocate of the murder of abortionists and anyone in their path, Spitz reveals some horrifying paradoxes. Just listen to his "sympathy" for Dr. Slepian's widow and children. Their enduring anguish and loss doesn't exactly elicit sympathy. Because he has none. It's an ugly moment - from an even uglier man - and it's skin-crawlingly dreadful.
Then there's the loathsome Jonathan O'Toole from 2004's March for Women's Lives - doing his best to buttress the assumption that pro-life extremists don't care about women or their fetuses. (Just for the record, O'Toole stated in a 2000 documentary ("Soldiers in the Army of God") that he "keeps himself clean" by avoiding women. Strong proponent for life - I must say.
The pro-choice cheerleaders in this piece don't fare all that much better. There's the college student who, between screaming like a howler monkey in heat, tells a well-meaning pro-lifer that he's been involved in "dozens of abortions.....it's neat.....it's funny!" Whether he was being facetious or not isn't really the point. Ask any woman who's had an abortion; she'll tell you it's one really, really unfunny life event, pro-choice or not.
Moving upward amidst the cacophony, there's the familiar sight of Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life. The kindly young cleric, from whose sermons I still find some measure of truth, exudes some troubling behavior here. The widows of murdered abortionists and their staffs probably won't be comforted by Pavone's airy and arrogant dismissals ("these events are SO rare") or his assertions that pro-choice folk and Paul Hill are spiritually akin.
Gag me, if you will, on those two proclamations - and gag me again for good measure. This is unfortunate indeed, and it's not exactly something I expected from a well-known priest of my former faith. Succinctly, Pavone's dismissals (and the statements of other pro-life activists regarding murder in the name of God) sound murky. My brow remains furrowed - and my heart troubled.
Curiously, the activism apparent in my own city (an enclave dubbed "The Abortion Capital of the World") is given scant screen time. Inscrutably, Operation Rescue's Troy Newman and Jeff Herzog are allotted little time - but their dignity and even tones are a grateful distraction from the likes of Spitz, O'Toole and other magpies.
Against this mournful backdrop, two women in this film remain in my memory: A college student who was raped at 13 and whose abortion draws disdainful interrogation from purported "pro-lifers"; and 2) A representative from the Silent No More campaign, who tearfully laments the three-year anniversary of her abortion. I am overwhelmed for both of them and want to envelop both in my arms and offer all the kindness and empathy that my savaged soul can still impart.
I challenge any viewer of this excellent DVD to observe these two women - and compare their angst with the screeches of the hysterical. Do extremists on either side of this debate exude love and commonality for these two women? In my view, the answer is a resounding "no."
Until reasonable, compassionate and honest debate is attendant to this searing issue, acrimony will continue. Because it does continue, many of us who have had abortions do not speak publicly of our travails. I hate being deemed an assassin as much as I deplore being termed a hypocrite for my difficulties with this moral conundrum.
Let us heed Christ's command to love another. Let us not allow hatred to feed on itself like a malignant, expansive cancer - enacting a corrosive toll on our own perceptions and realities. That is the task before all of us - and this poignant DVD is a step in the right direction.
Playing up to the megalomania of Spitz and his murderous cabal (The Army of God) is not.