Film “Birthright: A War Story,” explores stories of women hurt in fight over reproductive health care

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The film, “Birthright: A War Story,” will have a special screening sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women’s Arizona Section at the Harkins Shea 4 Theater Oct. 22. The film tells the stories of women who have become collateral damage in the campaign to take control of their reproductive health care.

Filmmaker Civia Tamarkin talks about her work on Arizona Horizon.

Ted Simons: THE FILM BIRTHRIGHT, A WAR STORY, WILL BE SCREENED THIS SUNDAY IN SCOTTSDALE, THE DOCUMENTARY CHRONICLES THE FIGHT OVER WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS SINCE THE PASSAGE OF ROE V. WADE.

Trailer: THE ANTI-CHOICE MOVEMENT, THEY HAVE MOVEMENTS, POSITION OF POWER.

Trailer: WE DID NOT SEE THE ONSLAUGHT THAT WAS COMING.

Trailer: THE LAST TIME THIS COUNTRY DEALT WITH AN ISSUE OF THIS DYNAMIC, WE SHOT EACH OTHER TO DOLL RAGS ON THE CIVIL WAR BATTLE FIELD.

Trailer: A LOT HAS HAPPENED. IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL TO INDUCE MY PREGNANCY.

Trailer: I COULD HAVE LOST MY LOVE OF MY LIFE. IT WAS TEN DAYS OF TORTURE.

Ted Simons: WE WELCOME FILMMAKER CIVIA TAMARKIN TO TALK ABOUT HER WORK. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THIS SCREEN SUNDAYS WHERE? AT SHEA?

Civia Tamarkin: ACTUALLY THE FILM OPENS ON FRIDAY, THIS FRIDAY, THE 22ND, AT HARKINS SHEA AND IT RUNS THROUGH THE WEEK, FOUR SCREENINGS A DAY, BUT THERE IS A LARGER SCREENING SUNDAY MATINEE.

Ted Simons: 40-PLUS YEARS OF INCREMENTAL RESTRICTIONS TO ABORTION. TALK TO US ABOUT WHAT THIS FILM IS ABOUT.

Civia Tamarkin: WHAT THE FILM IS ABOUT IS THE SYSTEMATIC INSIDIOUS GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT TO ERODE WOMEN'S FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT OF BODILY AUTONOMY. SO MUCH OF THE DEBATE HAS ALWAYS BEEN ON ABORTION AND THAT SINGULAR MEDICAL PRACTICE AND WHAT HAS GOTTEN LOST IN THIS DEBATE IS THE FACT THAT WOMEN HAVE A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT TO BODILY INTEGRITY. AND AS A RESULT OF THIS BACKLASH AGAINST THE LEGALIZATION OF ABORTION, WOMEN WHO MAY HAVE NO INTENTION OF OBTAINING AN ABORTION ARE STILL ENSNARED AND SWEPT UP IN THE RHETORIC, IN THE PHILOSOPHY, IN THE PRACTICES.

Ted Simons: YOU CALL THOSE FOLKS COLLATERAL DAMAGE.

Civia Tamarkin: WE DO. IT'S PART OF THE FALLOUT. SO SOMEBODY WHO MAY BE CARRYING A MUCH-WANTED PREGNANCY THAT TURNS OUT TO BE NONVIABLE AFTER 20 WEEKS, IN SOME STATES WHERE THERE'S A 20-WEEK BAN, MAY FIND THAT HER PHYSICIANS CANNOT INDUCE LABOR, THAT HER HEALTH IS AT RISK, HER VERY LIFE IS AT RISK, BECAUSE OF THE MISAPPLICATION OF THESE ANTI-ABORTION LAWS.

Ted Simons: AND AGAIN, WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING AT IS NOT SO MUCH THE ACT BUT THE RESULT OF EFFORTS TO RESTRICT THE ACT OF ABORTION.

Civia Tamarkin: EXACTLY. SO THAT WOMEN WHO MAY WANT TO GIVE BIRTH NATURALLY AT HOME, THEY FIND THEMSELVES THE SUBJECT OF A COURT-ORDERED CAESAREAN. WOMEN WHO MAY BE MISCARRYING, WHO WIND UP UNDER A CATHOLIC HEALTHCARE FACILITY MAY FIND THAT THEY'RE SENT HOME AND THAT THEIR MISCARRIAGE IS MISMANAGED BECAUSE THERE'S STILL A VERY FAINT HEARTBEAT. SO WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO SHOW WITH THIS FILM, THAT EVEN WOMEN WHO MAY BE OPPOSED TO THE ABORTION PROCEDURE MAY FIND THEMSELVES AS PART OF THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE. ALL 6 MILLION WOMEN EACH YEAR WHO BECOME PREGNANT MAY BE ENSNARED IN THIS.

Ted Simons: ONE OF THE QUOTES IN THE FILM IS OF SOMEONE SAYING THAT A STATE HAS A RIGHT TO INTERVENE IN A WOMAN'S LIFE THE SECOND SHE BECOMES PREGNANT. IT'S AN INTERESTING WAY TO PUT IT, ISN'T IT?

Civia Tamarkin: WELL, IT'S PART OF THE QUOTE. WHAT THIS SPEAKER IS REFERRING TO IS THE PUSH FOR THE PERSON, THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT OF A FETUS BECAUSE YOU CANNOT GIVE A FETUS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS WITHOUT SUBTRACTING THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS FROM A WOMAN. SO THAT'S WHAT THE REFERENCE IS IF YOU CARRY THIS PERSONHOOD MOVEMENT TO THE LOGICAL EXTREME, THEN YOU'RE SAYING THE STATE HAS A RIGHT TO INTERVENE AT THAT STEP.

Ted Simons: THE COMPLETION OF THE QUOTE WAS THAT ANYONE WHO WAS INTERESTED, A CONSERVATIVE OR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS WOULD FIND THAT DIFFICULT TO COMPREHEND.

Civia Tamarkin: WELL, ABSOLUTELY. IT'S AN INTRUSION INTO THE LIFE AND THE MEDICAL DECISION-MAKING OF AN INDIVIDUAL THAT EVERY CONSERVATIVE WHO ARGUES AGAINST STATE INTRUSION SHOULD BE OPPOSED TO.

Ted Simons: TALK ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH ON THIS FILM. HOW DID YOU FIND FOLKS THAT WERE COLLATERAL DAMAGE? HOW DID YOU FIND FOLKS TO INCLUDE THAT ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ISSUE?

Civia Tamarkin: WELL, THE OPPOSITION, THE ANTI-ABORTION MOVEMENT, SOME OF THE PEOPLE WERE VERY WILLING TO TALK BECAUSE WE EXPLAINED THAT THE PURPOSE OF THIS FILM WAS TO SHOW THE STRATEGY, THE EVOLUTION, THE GROWTH AND THE IMPACT OF THEIR MOVEMENT, AND THEY'RE VERY PROUD OF THEIR SUCCESSES. AND IT WAS FAR MORE DIFFICULT TO FIND WOMEN WHO WOULD COME FORWARD AND TALK ABOUT THEIR VICTIMIZATION. THEY WERE AFRAID, THEY WERE AFRAID OF REPERCUSSION, THEY WERE EMBARRASSED BY WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM, AND IN SOME CASES THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO REALLY ARTICULATE WHAT HAPPENED BECAUSE OF THE TRAUMA THAT THEY HAD EXPERIENCED.

Ted Simons: WHEN YOU BEGAN MAKING THIS DOCUMENTARY, DID YOU HAVE SOMETHING IN MIND THAT YOU WANTED TO GET A POINT ACROSS, A THEME, AND DID THAT HOLD THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS OR DID IT CHANGE A LITTLE BIT AS YOU WENT THROUGH THIS?

Civia Tamarkin: I BEGAN THIS FILM, BEGAN RESEARCHING THE FILM ON THE HEELS OF THE HOBBY LOBBY DECISION BACK IN JUNE OF 2014 WHEN THE SUPREME COURT RULED THAT A PRIVATE COMPANY, BASED ON RELIGIOUS BELIEFS, COULD WITHHOLD CONTRACEPTION FROM THEIR EMPLOYEE INSURANCE PLANS. AS SOMEONE WHO HAD BEEN VERY INVOLVED IN THE WOMEN'S RIGHTS MOVEMENT, I COULDN'T UNDERSTAND HOW EVERYTHING HAD DISINTEGRATED, I COULDN'T UNDERSTAND HOW CONTRACEPTION HAD BECOME PART OF THE WAR ON WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH. AND SO I BEGAN TO INVESTIGATE IT, AND I DID WANT TO SHOW, I WANTED TO DO A FILM THAT I HOPE WILL BE NOT ANOTHER ABORTION FILM CERTAINLY, BUT A FILM THAT WOULD OPEN DIALOGUE, THAT WOULD MAKE PEOPLE ON THE OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE ISSUE AT LEAST HAVE A BRIDGE TO CONVERSATION, AT LEAST WOMEN AND THE MEN WHO CARE ABOUT WOMEN UNDERSTAND THAT IT'S NOT A CLEARLY-CUT ISSUE.

Ted Simons: AND IN RESEARCHING THE FILM, I SAW SOME CRITICISM, SOME GROUPS THAT WERE AGAINST THIS, THEY CALLED IT PROPAGANDA. HOW DO YOU RESPOND TO THAT?

Civia Tamarkin: IT IS WELL DOCUMENTED. THERE CERTAINLY IS REPRESENTATION ON BOTH SIDES. BUT THERE'S NO QUESTION THAT THERE'S A POINT OF VIEW. THE POINT OF VIEW IS VERY CLEAR, THAT WOMEN HAVE A FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT TO MAKE THEIR OWN MEDICAL DECISIONS. THERE'S NO OTHER SITUATION WHERE WITHOUT WRITTEN CONSENT YOU CAN HAVE AN ORGAN REMOVED, FORCIBLY REMOVED, BUT YET WHEN IT COMES TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE, WOMEN ARE SUBJECT TO THAT AROUND THE COUNTRY. SO IF IT IS CALLED PROPAGANDA, SO BE IT, BUT IT IS WELL REPORTED, IT IS BASED IN FACT, IT IS WELL DOCUMENTED, AND IT ILLUSTRATES THE DRASTIC PROBLEM THAT WOMEN IN THIS COUNTRY FACE TODAY.

Ted Simons: ALL RIGHT. AGAIN, OPENS FRIDAY.

Civia Tamarkin: IT OPENS FRIDAY AT HARKINS SHEA, AND IT RUNS THROUGH THE WEEK, FOUR SCREENINGS A DAY, AND THERE IS A VERY LARGE SCREENING SUNDAY AFTERNOON MATINEE.

Ted Simons: ALL RIGHT. AT HARKINS SHEA. BIRTHRIGHT, A WAR STORY. CIVIA TAMARKIN. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. WE APPRECIATE IT.

Civia Tamarkin: THANK YOU.

Ted Simons: ON WEDNESDAY ON ARIZONA HORIZON A SPECIAL INTERVIEW IN FRONT OF ALLY LIVE STUDIO AUDIENCE WITH PBS NEWSHOUR ANCHOR JUDY WOODRUFF WHO ALONG WITH THE LATE GWEN IFILL WILL BE HONORED WITH THE 2017 CRONKITE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM. THAT'S IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

Civia Tamarkin, Director, “Birthright: A War Story”

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