Abortion Rights Take Center Stage in ‘Jackson’
In November 2016, we were invited to cover the Lone Star Film Festival in Fort Worth, TX. Jackson was one of the featured documentaries during the festival. Unfortunately, we were unable to attend the screening during the festival. However, due to the recent threats to abortion rights nation-wide, we reached out to director Maisie Crow to see if we could get a copy of the film. We are so grateful that Maisie was willing to give us access to the film so that we could write up a review.
Jackson is a documentary centered around the last abortion clinic in Mississippi. Set amid the on-going battle over abortion rights, Jackson focuses on the lives of three women. Each woman is affected by the abortion rights debate in a different way and the documentary sets out to tell each of their stories.
Katie and I both watched Jackson and we both have quite a few thoughts about the film. This really isn’t going to be a review as much as it is going to be a reaction in two parts. I feel confident in saying that both Katie and I were deeply affected by Jackson and hopefully this post will be able to fully express how we feel.
I initially reached out to Maisie at the end of January and watched the film shortly after that. It’s taken me almost a month to finally sit down and punch out my thoughts about the film. My procrastination was in no small part due to the increasingly tense political climate in America and my home state of Texas.
Looking back on my life, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t pro-choice. I do vividly remember attending a lock-in at the local Baptist church during which we watched video of a “live” abortion. Somehow, I miraculously walked away from small-town conservative Texas still very much pro-choice. However, I didn’t think much about abortion rights until well into college. I’ve recently become even more outspoken on the issue. Hence, the reason I asked Maisie if we could review Jackson.
I was fully expecting to watch Jackson and come away with a fairly standard review.
What I was not expecting was to literally be rendered unable to talk about anything but the documentary. Over the past month, I’ve told anyone and everyone that would listen about Jackson and the story it so intricately tells. I’ve talked until I was blue in the face about abortion rights and the light that Jackson shines. My spiel about how lawmakers are overwhelmingly unable to empathize with the women abortion laws affect most is on point. I can give you a synopsis of the film and my argument in about eight minutes flat.
Since late January, I’ve been a one woman, walking movie promoter for Jackson, but until now I haven’t been able to write down my thoughts. I get fired up telling people they HAVE to watch Jackson but couldn’t put that in print. Honestly, I still don’t know if I’m fully conveying how this film affected me. This film is the first thing I’ve seen around the abortion debate that quietly screamed the question, “who is this really affecting?” Jackson does what many of us are unable to do. It features both sides of the debate with a calm eloquence while still maintaining a pulse of passion. This film is an important commentary on an important issue.
TLDR: Watch this film. Watch it and then force everyone you know to also watch it.
Michelle’s mom has a saying we both love: “History and the weather have not been kind to Jackson, Mississippi.” This never rang more true than when watching Maisie’s documentary. I also grew up in a small southern town so I’m not unfamiliar with a faith-driven, “pro life” narrative. For me, Jackson was about so much more than just abortion rights.
Let’s face it, no one is actually pro-abortion.
I’ve long held the belief that abortion – as well as any other form of birth control – should remain safe, legal, and accessible. I believe this because there are women in the world who do not want children, cannot afford to have a child, have been victims of sexual crimes or abuse, or whose lives may be at risk if they attempt to carry a baby to term. I do not believe a government has autonomy over any person’s body. Pregnancy and birth control are personal choices. Frankly, I think we should all just mind our own business and let people live their lives.
Jackson drove this point home for me in a big way. It was physically painful to see women actively discouraged from making decisions based on what they needed and wanted in life. Instead, they were encouraged to conform to societal and familial expectations. Beyond that, the socioeconomic and racial implications restrictions have on our society pushes us further and further into the past. As a student of civil and human rights, this is something I cannot stand for. Maisie illustrates this in a moving and tangible way.
TLDR: Jackson is relevant more than ever when women’s right to autonomy over their bodies is at risk.
Jackson is currently being screened at various film festivals and as of this posting we are not aware of plans for distribution. You can learn more info about how to see the film by visiting the website (link below). Also, we’ve included some information about how you can get involved in the fight for abortion rights.
For More About Jackson
Join in the Fight for Women’s Health and Abortion Rights