A month after the showing of a controversial anti-abortion film at a high school theatre in New Brunswick, opponents of that film are screening a documentary on access to abortions at the same school Saturday night.
Organizer Raven Blue was among the opponents when the controversial film “Unplanned” was shown at Saint John High School in August.
“Unplanned” looks at a Planned Parenthood clinic director in Texas who becomes an anti-abortion speaker.
Blue said “Unplanned” has factual errors and is misleading.
“We felt it was very harmful to be showing it in a public school,” he said.
However, Blue said he has no problem with “Trapped” being shown in the same location because it’s a documentary.
“‘Trapped’ is showing how in the United States, even though constitutionally they are protected to have access to abortions, individual states have been slowly whittling away access to abortion through different laws that restrict access,” he said.
He calls it a cautionary tale for provinces like New Brunswick.
“Even though we are protected by charter rights to have access, the actual reality of it is many people can’t afford to have an abortion and they can’t get transportation. We think this is relevant here in New Brunswick and many parts of Canada.”
“Trapped” follows clinic workers and lawyers fighting to maintain access to abortions across the United States.
Saint John city councillor David Hickey identifies himself as pro-choice, but said showing the latest film just looks like an effort to “one-up” the first movie and that doesn’t help the debate.
“I don’t think going ahead and showing something at the school in an attempt to retaliate against the showing of ‘Unplanned’ is the way to do things,” he said.
Hickey was among a group of people who protested against the screening of the first film at the school.
That group organized via a Facebook group stated “a public school is not the place for such dishonest, dangerous, political and religious propaganda.”
Zoe Watson, superintendent of Anglophone School District South, said the films have not been organized by the district and the people who rented the theatre have the rights to show the film.
Still, Hickey — who isn’t involved in the showing of “Trapped” — said he doesn’t think it should he shown at the school either.
“I don’t think it’s the place for these political statements, either pro-life or pro-choice. I don’t think a school is the place for this,” he said in an interview.
“Unplanned” had been listed on the City of Saint John events webpage, but “Trapped” didn’t get the same promotion, because the city has taken down the page while a policy on its content is developed.
“It became clear to senior staff that there was no policy in place around what goes onto that events page. It wasn’t because of this event but rather because there was no policy in general,” Hickey said.
Blue said a dollar from every ticket sold to the Saturday night viewing will be donated to Clinic 554 — the former Morgentaler abortion clinic in Fredericton.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press