“Ours to Tell”: New Film Highlights Personal Stories About Importance of Access to Abortion
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AMY GOOD MAN: Now we’ll move on to a new short film that challenges the stigma surrounding abortion, through stories of four people reflecting on their own decisions to terminate a pregnancy. It’s called Ours to say. This is the movie trailer.
COACH: Twenty. Come on, dig in, Brick House.
NATASHA ROTHWELL: It is a plea for love and for freedom, that each of us is free not only to dream our best life, but that we have the freedom to live it. It is about demanding an end to judgment, an end to stigma, an end to silence and an end to shame.
AMY GOOD MAN: Ours to say was directed by Rayka Zehtabchi and created by Planned Parenthood and We Testify. We’re now joined here in Park City, Utah, by Renee Bracey Sherman, Founder and Executive Director of We Testify, the executive producer of the film.
welcome to Democracy now! It’s great to have you with us.
RENÉE BRACEY SHERMAN: Thank you very much for having me.
AMY GOOD MAN: Then you are with We Testify. Explain your group.
RENÉE BRACEY SHERMAN: Yes. As such, our organization is dedicated to leadership and representation of people who have had abortions. For too long, we weren’t seen as the experts in the abortion conversation. We have been left out. We were sort of seen as this abstract idea. And it is we who abort. We should talk about it. And we must be represented with respect on television and in the news.
AMY GOOD MAN: And talk about your own experience.
RENÉE BRACEY SHERMAN: Yes. So I had an abortion at 19. I was in a dangerous relationship and just didn’t feel ready to parent. And I was lucky. At that time, I could just drive to the clinic 15 minutes from home. I used a credit card to the maximum to pay. And the procedure lasted 10 minutes. But the reality today is that most people have to travel long distances. They find it difficult to pay for their abortions. And it is simply inaccessible, even though it is legal. And this is what we hope to shed light on and show that people have difficulty accessing it.
AMY GOOD MAN: I wanted to go to another clip of Ours to say, where each of the four people featured in the film reflects on their reasons for choosing to terminate their pregnancy.
HANNAH: So, these are things I wrote when I was 18. “I believe that everyone has the freedom to do whatever they want with their own body. And if the timing is not right or the mother is not ready, then she should have the right to choose whether or not she wants to have a child, just like I did.
BRITTANY: I found out I was pregnant in May. Something in me was always like, “No. No girl. It’s not that. And you can go beyond that one way or another.
YLONDA: I just remember closing my eyes, praying, and just before I knew it the words came out, and I said, “I can’t, doctor. I can not. I knew I was at peace with it. I knew my god was at peace with it. And I think that was one of the first big decisions I made without considering anyone else. I knew I had to be the best mother I could be for the children I had.
PSEUDO: I just wasn’t in a place where I could physically or emotionally manage a pregnancy, let alone a child. I was just in a position where I felt absolutely trapped and terrified, and I just wouldn’t have been able to handle it.
HANNAH: Even then, I knew this was not the life I was in – I was not myself yet. I was not whole. I was not ready to be a good parent.
AMY GOOD MAN: Ours to say, just a snippet of that. Renee Bracey Sherman, talks about who the people are in the film, and also storytelling as a form of resistance.
RENÉE BRACEY SHERMAN: Absolutely. Thus, Brittany and Ylonda are two black moms, raising their children, who have aborted. Hannah is a Mexican woman. And Nick is a trans person from Houston, living in Houston, who talks about the resistance and power of trans people who have abortions.
And I think storytelling is extremely important at this time when the president is going to the March for Life, denigrating us; we have the education secretary denigrating black people who have abortions. Our voices must be heard, and we say we have had abortions. We make this decision for ourselves. And that is what is most important.
AMY GOOD MAN: Well I want to thank you very much, Renee Bracey Sherman, award winning activist, founder and executive director of We Testify, executive producer of the new short film Ours to say, which is also produced by Planned Parenthood. You can watch the full movie on OursToTell.org. And that’s the case with our first Park City show at the Sundance Film Festival.