Director Bruce Isacson claims that his "dramumentary," titled "South Dakota: A Woman's Right To Choose," is meant to educate viewers on both sides of the abortion debate. Yet as Robin Abcarian of the LA Times reports, that claim is questionable.
The film centers around two pregnant girls, Barb and Chris, whose stories are based on the real life experiences of several women. (Barb's story, Abcarian notes, is based on one woman, while Chris' story is a composite sketch of several women.) The two are followed as they make important decisions regarding their pregnancies, and their stories are interspersed with shots of "16- to 22-week-old fetuses floating in utero," as well as interviews and clips of discussing abortion, such as Bill Clinton, Gloria Allred, and Mother Teresa. Below is a trailer for the film:
The afterschool special nature of the film is intentional, it seems, as the film was screened for 1000 girls in California last October , as part of a screening/forum designed to encourage discussion and debate. Watching a clip of the reaction of the teen screening is quite fascinating, as the girls take up both sides of the debate, though it seems that the anti-choice side is perhaps better represented:
I haven't seen the film yet, so it would be unfair for me to make an overall judgment on it, yet I do find it somewhat unsettling that an abortion documentary (or "dramumentary," rather) that sells itself as neutral is being promoted by the same company, Motive Entertainment, that marketed both "The Passion of the Christ" and Ben Stein's pro-intelligent design documentary, "Expelled."
The use of fetus pictures and clips of people thanking their mother for having them also ring quite familiar as typical practices of the anti-choice camp, and according to Abcarian, "Thus far, no high-profile abortion rights supporter has seen it," though Elisabeth Hasselbeck and James Dobson have, which sets off a few alarm bells, as well. As I said, I'll have to watch the entire film to really get a sense of its neutrality or lack thereof, but it seems that the filmmaker has already accomplished his goal: his movie has people talking.