This past week HBO, the American cable network, aired a documentary titled 12th and Delaware. The documentary was about a pregnancy help center and an abortion clinic on opposing corners in a residential area of Ft. Pierce, Florida. I watched the documentary with great trepidation, expecting that it would be one-sided for the abortion view. I was surprised that it was fairly balanced, although the makers, I feel, were more sympathetic to the abortion side. The scene starts at around 5:30 AM, in the dark of the early morning in front of the abortion clinic which looked like a home turned into a clinic by a woman and her husband. An abortion opponent is walking in front with a sign “Thou Shall not Kill.” Later in the morning, the garage door of the abortion clinic opens and a bright yellow Ford Mustang pulls out. This same car returns later with a passenger covered by a white sheet. The car pulls into the garage and the door closes. It is well understood that the passenger in the covered sheet is the abortion doctor that the owner of the clinic just picked up. The car later pulls out with the same passenger covered by a sheet and disappears. The following scenes involve a middle-aged man in shorts who walks in front of the abortion clinic exhorting clients going in why they should not go there. Later the film crew follows him in his car as he is trying to find out who the abortion doctor is. They arrive in front of a Wal Mart parking lot where he waits. A few moments later he sees what he came there for: the yellow Mustang pulls up and drops off a man whose face is masked by the film makers and gets in to a Lexus – obviously, this is the abortionist.
The film then follows the events that go on as a young woman visits the Pregnancy Care Center at 12th & Delaware. The first young woman looked to be a teenager, around 18 or 19 years old and fairly attractive. The counselor talks to her about her pregnancy, including showing her an ultra sound view of her baby, and shows her a plastic form of what the baby looks like in the womb at eight weeks of pregnancy, which was where she was. This young lady seemed totally unimpressed at what she was looking. You could tell by her non verbal reactions that she was not leaning to keeping the baby. She mentions that she’s had an earlier abortion. A few moments later her boyfriend walks in. He is tattooed and is wearing a baseball cap askew on his head, as is customary in some teenage circles of his age. He also looked totally unimpressed by what the fetus looked like. Later on the Pregnancy Care Center counselor calls her on the phone to check up on her and is told that she went through with the abortion.
The second part of the documentary chronicles the events at the abortion clinic. The woman who runs the clinic interviews a woman who came in for an abortion. None of the abortion clients show their face. this young women who is being interviewed is greatly troubled by her predicament; she tells her interviewer that she feels like a murderer. The abortion clinic person reassures her that she is not and that this is no big deal.
In later scenes at the abortion clinic the woman owner is discussing her disgust for the Pregnancy Care Center across the street. She laments that they are doing so much damage to women. She claims that the Pregnancy Care Center lies to the women and tells them that they are much later on their pregnancy than they really are so they will not be able to get an abortion. She makes the statement: “I’d like to shoot them,” referring to those that work at the Pregnancy Care Center.
There are two very moving scenes in the documentary: One is of a group of Hispanic people pleading with a Hispanic woman going in to the abortion clinic; they all speak to her in Spanish. The woman states that she already has six children and can’t afford another one. One of the women pleading with her not to go through with it is emotionally moved and make a great case to try to convince her not to do it; she has tears in her eyes as she pleads her case. She tells her that since she has six kids she loves children and she should not kill this one that she has in her. The woman is convinced and is seen going across the street to the Pregnancy Care Center. The scene shifts to the abortion clinic and the rage that the woman owner feels for those trying to convince her potential clients. The other moving scene is that of a woman being interviewed by the abortion clinic. She speaks with desperation that she feels like a murderer for wanting to abort. Her interviewer assures her that she is not. The scene is reminiscent of a sales pitch where it is just you and an assertive salesman and you have no way out and give in just to get out of the situation.
What is clear from this documentary is how stark and different the two sides are: To the abortion clinic owners, what they do is strictly a business to make money and what they see as “helping women.” To those opposed, it is a matter of life and death. The abortion clinic owner states that she wants to shoot the people in the Pregnancy Care Center. How more stark can you be. One believes that killing unborn children is helping women and those opposed believe that saving an unborn life is the right course. How can we be so different? How can people be so different in dealing with life and death?