"12th & Delaware" Premieres on HBO: Get the Facts on CPCs
I hope that many of you were able to see the premiere of the HBO documentary "12th & Delaware" last night. Many of my colleagues here at NARAL Pro-Choice America (and our affiliate network) saw advanced screenings of the film in Baltimore, New York City, and Brooklyn, so I couldn't wait to get in on the action.
CONFESSION: I was supposed to live-tweet during the east-coast premiere. I was all prepared, notes and laptop in hand, Diet Coke poured, popcorn popped, remote in hand... and then I became so engrossed in the documentary, I completely forgot to tweet. Thankfully, I could tune in for a repeat performance of the west-coast premiere (thank you, digital cable).
Anyway, NARAL Pro-Choice America and many of our affiliates have been preparing and promoting this documentary for a long time. That's because, for years, the anti-choice movement has been building a network across the country of "fake" clinics - so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" (CPCs). Our work around these CPCs has always centered on ensuring that women get accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased medical information so they can make their own decisions. That's why it's been so important to us that the public sees this film. As my colleague Kirsten said:
The directors were given unprecedented access to the CPC. They filmed conversations that the CPC director, Anne, had with women seeking help. A true documentary film, [Heidi] Ewing and [Rachel] Grady let the people at the CPC speak for themselves. And boy did they.
The pro-choice community, as a whole, is saying positive things about the film. From the reviews I've read, they all seemed to appreciate the presentation and the tone. The one complaint was that the filmmakers didn't call out or correct the myriad lies the anti-choicers told women in the film. That's not the job of documentary-makers, but it is our job as advocates who care about making sure women get the facts about their health-care choices. So, in that spirit, we've created your go-to guide for dispelling anti-choice distortions and lies.
Below is a list adapted from a series of late-night tweets you should read and share with your friends, family, and loved ones - especially if you are one of the 260 house-party hosts from more than 40 states! So read up, and then share away:
- At one point, Father Tom (who oversees the CPC) chuckles about the time the clinic called "911" because he was at the top of a ladder he'd brought, looking over their fence. Unfortunately for Florida women and providers, the state lacks a law that would protect clinic workers and patients from such harassment. Find out if your state has a law that ensures safe access to reproductive-health clinics.
- During the scene where Anne (the "counselor" who misleads women) is training future CPC workers on how to avoid answering abortion-related questions over the phone while getting women to come to the CPC, keep these facts in mind: Reports have shown CPCs deliberately deceive women about the services they offer. Thankfully, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced a bill in Congress that would hold CPCs accountable for misrepresenting their services.
- CPCs outnumber legitimate reproductive-health clinics across the country. In Florida, where this documentary takes place, 69 percent of counties lack an abortion provider. Find out your state access fact.
- Since 1993, eight clinic workers (including four doctors, two employees, one clinic escort, and one security guard) were murdered in United States.
- Inside the women's health clinic, Candace talks about the dwindling number of providers. You can learn more about the new wave of reproductive-health doctors in this article, originally in the New York Times Magazine.
- Medical Students for Choice helps train the doctors who will continue to provide abortion care for future generations. You can read more about this organization on its website.
- When one woman spoke about her husband forcing her to have sex without condoms, it's important to remember that reproductive coercion can include birth-control sabotage and/or using threats to force someone to have unprotected sex. Read more information from Guttmacher and a recent Businessweek article.
- In one scene, the CPC employee lied to a woman about the risks of abortion, so she tried to self-induce a miscarriage. Read more about the hazards of illegal abortion (pdf).
Keep in mind, this list is a start, so if you saw other parts of the film that gave you pause or prompted you to ask questions, please let us know in the comments.
Most people have no idea how these CPCs operate or, as the documentary shows us at the end, that they outnumber health centers that provide abortion by a five-to-one margin. One of our fans on Facebook looked up CPCs in her home state of Oregon and found 44 such places. That's in Oregon, one of the most pro-choice states in the country.
As we've said before, this film is going to start a conversation about abortion and how women access information about their health-care options. Let's keep that conversation going.