A 13-year-old rape victim makes the long journey from McAllen, in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, to the closest open health clinic that provides abortions. At the time, it’s the Whole Women’s Health Clinic, 200 miles away in San Antonio. At 20 weeks and five days pregnant, she arrives just as the deadline for their services approaches.
Despite the willingness of the clinic workers to help, and the availability of an increasingly rare abortion doctor, the clinic is unable to obtain a nurse anesthetist. Nothing can be done, short of another expensive journey of hundreds of miles into New Mexico. The impoverished victim will never be able to make that journey in time.
“We sentenced her to motherhood,” declares a tearful Marva Sadler, director of clinical services at the clinic, in one of the most affecting scenes of the film Trapped.
The girl becomes yet another victim of a TRAP law, or a Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. Republican-led state legislatures have passed so many of these laws, which put onerous burdens on abortion providers that are absent from far more dangerous medical procedures, that many people are slipping through the cracks.
This 2016 documentary, now playing in some theaters and at special screenings around the U.S., reveals the human costs of these laws for both the people who provide abortions and for those who need them.
Its arrival in theaters couldn’t come at a more crucial time, as the Supreme Court prepares a decision on HB2, the Texas TRAP Lawthat would close most of the state’s abortion clinics.
After Trapped played at the SXSW Film festival in Austin earlier this month, I got to sit down with Wendy Davis, the former state senator whose filibuster against HB2 catapulted her to national fame, along with Dawn Porter, the film’s director.
Although Davis appears in Trapped, she’s not the focus.
“I loved that Dawn made the heroes of the film the people who are the heroes in real life,” Davis told me. “Those health workers who are fighting every day against a barrage of ridiculous laws to continue to provide care to the people who need them.”