As 2017 moves along, reproductive health care in Texas and the US South promises to make as many headlines as in 2016. Under the Trump administration and a Conservative congress, more restrictive laws related to abortion are on the horizon. Only 19 abortion clinics remain in the state of Texas, with its population of more the 14 million adult women. One team has been working to document reproductive health care access in South Texas for the past two years.
Under the direction of Maya Cueva and Leah Galant, 3 Point Pictures produced the SXSW hit The Provider. Following that success, the filmmakers are continuing to follow these stories as a documentary series called The Last Clinics. This new documentary series takes the audience inside clinics and the surrounding communities throughout the United States to meet the people on the front lines of abortion care, facing unrelenting harassment and threats of violence. In this three-part series, 3 Point Pictures will travel to clinics and communities in Texas, Kentucky and Missouri.
The pilot episode focuses on the community of people working inside and protesting outside the last remaining clinic in the Rio Grande Valley along the US/Mexico border. Whole Woman’s Health McAllen opened and closed multiple times due to transient legislation in Texas and threats to the clinic. Women (many undocumented) seeking abortion in the Rio Grande Valley are often unable to receive care, since they must travel through border checkpoints to get to the nearest clinic, which is up to 250 miles away.
The city of McAllen is a close-knit community with the clinic at the center of tension. For those who work or volunteer at the clinic, just coming to work can be a life-threatening battle. The church community physically assaulted the clinic’s security guard, Rey Guerrero, multiple times on his days off. With optimism, Guerrero says, “I won’t be intimidated to quit.” Inside the clinic, Whole Woman’s Health Corporate Vice President Andrea Ferrigno receives intimidating letters and physical threats. Family members tell receptionist Diana never to walk alone to the clinic. Denni and Melissa, two sisters who volunteer to escort patients safely inside the clinic, are often tracked on anti-choice websites. The staff and clinic workers risk their lives every day to provide the services they know their patients can’t get anywhere else.
The series is not only about abortion care, but also about those affected by the state battle against reproductive rights.
To support The Last Clinics and the work of 3 Point Pictures, visit their Seed & Spark website to learn more.