The 40 Film: presenting the pro-life movement in a new light

BY MARGARET BOYLAN
STAFF WRITER

The director and producer of “The 40 Film” showed his pro-life documentary to Franciscan University students in Anathan Theater on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation and the 20th anniversary of “Evangelium Vitae.”

John E. Morales, director of the film said, “We believe our film is a compassionate and educational film.”

“The 40 Film” focuses on presenting the pro-life movement in a sensitive and approachable light.

With interviews of post-abortive mothers and fathers, victims and children of rape, former abortion clinic workers as well as some big names in the pro-life movement today, such as Abby Johnson, Lila Rose, the Rev. Frank Pavone and many others, the film is intended to reach the audience in a personal and thought-provoking way.

The creation of the documentary began in January of 2012 and covers all aspects of the pro-life issue. “The 40 Film” was first debuted this past December on the vigil of the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

“This film is dedicated to the 57 million children who have died since Roe vs. Wade,” said Morales, prior to the showing to film. “Without the right to life, there are no rights to talk about,” he said.

Before the showing, Morales shared that he had wished to interview big pro-choice institutions, such as Planned Parenthood, trying to convince them that he wanted their input as well, but they wanted nothing to do with the story.

The pro-choice activists who were able to be interviewed gave the basic argument, “It’s my body; it’s my choice.”

Sansara Taylor, a pro-choice activist and writer of the Revolution Newspaper, said, “The right to abortion means the rights of women.”

The movie shows that pro-choice activists believe that to be anti-abortion means to be anti-women and that they claim to be standing up for social justice and equality, as protected by the 14th Amendment. It shows that they fail to see pro-life groups stand for this as well because they often point at the pro-life movement as being “a Catholic thing.”

Instead of focusing on the religious aspect, however, “The 40 Film” focuses on a new approach: science. The documentary provides statistics and facts about abortion. It presents its argument in a psychological aspect, showing not only the pain and hurt the women go through but also the stories they had to share. Post-abortive mothers and former abortion clinic workers shared their experiences with abortion. Oftentimes, as one post-abortive mother explained, women block out the memory to block out the pain.

“I was kind of surprised how they showed that women don’t ask the question, ‘why?’ They don’t stop to think because they’re afraid of regret,” said Jake Konkolics, a freshman theology and catechetics major at Franciscan. “It gets you thinking why they do what they do.”

Another issue addressed by the movie was how many people do not know what happens in abortion clinics. There have been cases where crimes have been committed. The film even addressed Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s case in 2011 with Planned Parenthood. Oftentimes, as one post-abortive mother said, the girls believe themselves to have no other option but abortion.

With the coming of pregnancy clinics and women’s centers as well as organizations such as 40 Days for Life, many women are being saved from having abortions. The documentary shared that help and hope have been provided to these women, preventing a staggering number of 80 percent from having abortions.

Riley Veronica Laffoon, a junior theology and catechetics major, shared her thoughts as well, having already seen the documentary on one of Franciscan’s buses on the way to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. this past January.

“Seeing it on the bus for the first time, it really equipped us to fight for life,” said Laffoon, “This film gave us an education in standing up for life through science and psychology.”

Morales said, “The tide is turning, and the biggest reason is you, the youth.”

With one-third of this generation lost through abortion, Morales said he believed the youth to be the only ones who would be able to respond to the abortion issue.

“I believe you are the pro-life generation,” he said to the Franciscan students present. He believes attributes, such as being media savvy, relentless and hopeful will help this generation to end abortion. “After 40 years, it’s time to tell the truth,” he said.

Morales closed his presentation by drawing a quote from “Evangelium Vitae,” in which Pope St. John Paul II stated: “America, you are beautiful…and blessed….the ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life.”

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