A few weeks ago, I was privileged to attend a screening of “12th & Delaware,” a new documentary that screened to critical acclaim at Sundance and debuts tonight on HBO at 9 p.m. (EST). The film examines the fight over reproductive rights in the United States though the lens of an abortion clinic and a so-called “crisis pregnancy center,” which are located across the street from one another in Fort Pierce, Florida. The abortion clinic, which is constantly picketed by protesters, operates under high security and the doctor is driven to and from work every day with a blanket over his head. Meanwhile, the Pregnancy Care Center is run by anti-choicers who purposefully named their business to sound like an abortion clinic and purposefully opened up shop near an abortion clinic to confuse women seeking to end a pregnancy. The Center owns an ultrasound, but there are no actual doctors on premises and certainly no abortions occur there. The Center’s employees offer moms-to-be stuffed animals, baby clothes and even money — anything to encourage them not to abort. You can read more about “crisis pregnancy centers” on the National Abortion Federation’s website.
The brilliance of filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Oscar nominees for their documentary “Jesus Camp”) is that they are completely silent in their own film. Unlike Michael Moore documentaries, for example, Ewing and Grady don’t narrate; they let their subjects speak for themselves. If, like me, you don’t have a stomach for people who mislead women, you’ll find “12th & Delaware” fascinating — but hard to bear. [HBO]