Can Americans ever speak reasonably to each other about abortion? It seems impossible, given how polarized our country is. The emotions run far too deep on both sides. No one seems to be able to listen to anything anyone else says, even something reasonable. The assumption is that anyone on "the other side" is a complete fanatic, and every word from their mouth is pure propaganda.
I confess that this is how I've always felt about the abortion debate, which makes me not want to participate despite my own strong feelings on the topic. But recently, I saw a documentary about abortion, one that comes as close to being balanced as anything out there.
12th and Delaware is a film about two clinics across the street from each other in a small town in Florida -- one run by pro-choice advocates and one run by a Christian group opposed to abortion. What's unique about this film is that there is almost no commentary. The filmmakers stitch together clips from both sides of the street, and you are allowed to make up your own mind.
The film shows the humanity and passion of all involved. I suspect that the filmmakers have their own opinion, but they were careful not to sloganeer about it. Most poignant, of course, are the women who come to the clinics. Their stories are all too human, and we see them agonizing over wrenching decisions and often impossible circumstances.
Here is my full review of the movie 12th and Delaware in The Lancet.
Danielle Ofri is a writer and practicing internist at New York City's Bellevue Hospital. She is the editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her newest book is Medicine in Translation: Journeys with my Patients.
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