Little props for big decisions at 12th & Delaware.
Living with the lies
By Miranda Inganni
"That's what abortions are for, to stop unwanted pregnancies. And this is an unwanted pregnancy," -- A 24-year-old mother of two in 12th & Delaware.
Thirty-seven years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, anti-choice movements are more prevalent, with a woman's right to choose what she wants to do with her own body now under attack more than ever since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision.
A perfect example of the warring reproductive rights conflict is the intersection at 12th Street and Delaware Avenue in Fort Pierce, Florida, where across the street from the A Woman's World abortion clinic resides a Pregnancy Care Center, an anti-choice outpost where unsuspecting women looking for abortion counseling and care meet people trying to convince you to keep the child.
As the director of the Pregnancy Care Center, Anne C. Lotierzo -- a woman with no children of her own -- spends time counseling pregnant girls and women. Frequently using gruesome images, deceptive tactics and flat out lies (there is no link between abortion and breast cancer!), Lotierzo lays the anti-choice rhetoric on pretty think, but it's the free ultrasounds the center provides that are the most persuasive argument the center has for these girls and women to see their pregnancies through birth. When a woman sees an image(s) of her child's heart beating "Hi Mommy," a decision to abort the abortion sometimes becomes less difficult.
Across the street at A Woman's World, Candace Dye and her husband, Arnold, run the clinic, doing everything in their power to inform and protect their clients, as well as the doctors they shuttle to and fro the clinic. Shrouded in sheets, the doctors with whom Candace and Arnold work with are brought in at great risk to all involved.
Outside A Woman's World, the small, but mighty (or at least loud) crowd that seems to be constantly protesting the clinic, go to great lengths to make their intentions known. An old religious lady yells at everyone going inside A Woman's World. Then there is the group of young Latinos offering goods and money to young Latinas changing their mind. One misogynistic muscular male goes so far as to follow Arnold in yellow muscle car to the location where he and the doctor, who the protester refers to as "the killer," meet up, thereby putting that very doctor's anonymity and life at risk. "I know people," he warns.
It is abundantly clear that both groups are passionate about the work they do. The main difference is that Lotierzo comes across as a religious fanatic, hellbent on winning at any cost whereas Candace and Arnold seem truly concerned about the women they treat. Lotierzo gloats about her "successes" and prides herself on her modus operandi for convincing women, sometimes as young as 15 years old, to keep their unborn child. Over at A Woman's World, with no pressure and the facts in hand, Candace makes sure the needs of her patients are met. "Abortions are never wanted," Candace tells her patients.
Shot over two years and edited down to a tidy 80 minutes, co-directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grad -- the team behind the Oscar-nominated documentary, Jesus Camp -- 12th & Delaware spends the majority of its time focusing on the Pregnancy Care Center and, true to form, their supporters who are both vocal and vigilant. For better or worse, A Woman's World receives far less attention.
Perhaps most surprisingly is that neither the center nor the clinic discusses adoption as an option. And that omission is indicative of how this HBO documentary fails to address an issue consuming much of America. (Europe is pretty much done discussing the validity of a woman's right to choose.) The documentary's narrative stresses the singlemindedness of and victory for each side and less about the the lives affected.
However, one thing remains perfectly clear at the end, with more than 4000 pro-life clinics and 816 abortion clinics in the United States, it's clear where America's money and mindset is blowing.