Picks and Pans Review: Casting the First Stone
As recent events in Kansas indicate, the divisive issue of abortion never seems any closer to getting resolved. It just moves around the country finding fresh tinder.
This documentary, the season closer for public television's P.O.V. series, focuses on the Women's Suburban Clinic in Paoli, Pa., which has been providing counseling and abortions since shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision nearly two decades ago. The clinic has often been targeted by Operation Rescue, a grass-roots "pro-life" organization that has engaged in civil disobedience since 1987, inviting wholesale arrests by blockading clinics and other facilities.
The principal players in this program are six women, three of them pro-choice, three pro-life. Individually the women on either side present their beliefs in a calm, cogent, deeply felt way. Put them together, and the screaming and accusations begin immediately.
The saddest parts of this hour, though, are brief glimpses of the clinic's clients, women trying to arrive at a painful, profoundly personal decision while an acrimonious public debate rages around them.