Students and faculty gathered at the Shamrock Ballroom inside the Hilton Hotel for a free screening of Dawn Porter’s documentary “Trapped,” which depicts the on-going struggles that abortion clinic workers and lawyers face to keep abortion safe and legal for thousands of women.
The documentary follows the events after the introduction of Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers laws in 2008.
Women and Gender Resource Center’s program coordinator Malkia Hutchinson said that the timing could not have been better to hold a discussion on abortion and TRAP laws on campus.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case that challenges HB2 laws which aim to regulate abortion procedures and facilities.
“It can either set precedent nationally or it could significantly reduce the number of abortion clinics in Texas based off what the (Supreme Court of the United States) rules,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson said another reason for screening the film is not about discussing the pros and cons of abortion but was to discuss how the laws affect clinics not only in Texas but in the country.
A panel discussion followed the screening, which was led by Ana Rodriguez, a member of the board of directors of the Lilith Fund; Easha Pandit, a Houston-based writer and activist; Rebecca Robertson, vice president of communications of Whole Woman’s Health Fatimah Gifford and Lesli-Elise Simms from the Lilith Fund.
Panel members shared the importance for students and members of the community on getting involved with local elections because they have a huge impact on abortion laws that will affect women and their reproductive rights.
Audience members were also encouraged by the panel to get involved with direct actions such as continuing the abortion conversation, volunteering at local clinics and driving escorts to safely get women to their procedures.
Engineering technology freshman Daniel Bush said that he believes that abortion is a fundamental right and is inclined to volunteering after listening to the list of suggestions offered by the panelists.
WGRC, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, Texas Freedom Network, Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity and UH Law Students for Reproductive Justice sponsored the screening.
“I hope that students learn about the resources in Texas and Houston,” said Hutchinson.
Graduate social work student Sonia Martinez said she believes that is important for students to learn about the history of women getting access to abortion and how that right is being stripped by politics.
“The more kinds of presentations and events people have (on the topic) the more awareness there is,” Martinez said.
“Women (on campus) are in their reproductive years so things that happen now can affect their lives in their future.”