“Trapped”: When Politics Trump Medicine

Cincinnati Law screens award-winning film 10/27 and welcomes filmmaker Dawn Porter.

“I feel like I can break at any moment.”

The woman quoted above is the mother of two boys, who are 13 months apart.  One is in third grade; the younger is autistic.  She is pregnant and feels “emotionally unfit” to take on the responsibility of another child.“Trapped,” a documentary by Dawn Porter, gives voice to this woman and others for whom the law has made a difficult choice more challenging.  Cincinnati Law screens this film Wednesday, October 27 in Room 118. 

In the past five years, state lawmakers testing the boundaries of Roe v. Wade have passed almost 300 laws limiting access to abortion through waiting periods, requiring doctors to recite scripts of questionable medical value, or regulations that treat abortion clinics like surgical centers (even though there’s no surgery involved in the procedure).  These statutes–or TRAP laws (for Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers)–dictate hallway widths, closet size; or even the permitted distance from a school, all in the name of protecting women’s health.

To test that assertion, the film follows women affected by TRAP laws in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas.  In addition, it profiles providers and physicians to demonstrate the wide ranging impact of statutes on families living in the South.

“Trapped” is especially timely as the Supreme Court recently struck down one of the most onerous statutes, HB 2 passed by Texas’s legislature in 2015, in Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt (WWH).  While the Court’s decision means the end of existing TRAP laws, lawmakers no doubt will attempt new ways of limiting women’s rights in this important area.

After the film, a panel of experts will discuss the implications of WWH, among other things.  Our guests will be Dawn Porter, award-winning filmmaker of “Trapped”; UC student Batsheva Guy, whom Rolling Stone profiled;  and  Jennifer Branch of noted civil rights law firm Gerhardstein & Branch, which has long challenged TRAP laws and other limits on women’s constitutional rights.  Please join us in what promises to be a provocative evening.

The Details:

  • Trapped
  • Reception at 5:30; film screening at 6, with panel discussion to follow.
  • Cincinnati Law, Room 118
  • Register here. It’s free!

Author: Verna L. Williams

Interim Dean, Nippert Professor of Law, co-founder and co-director of Cincinnati Law's Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice. Professor Williams joined Cincinnati Law's faculty in 2001. She teaches Constitutional Law; Gender and the Law; and Family Law. Her research examines the intersection of race and gender in law and society.

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