Review: ‘Trapped’ is a primer on increased regulation of U.S. abortion providers


“Trapped,” a galvanizing and lucid documentary by Dawn Porter, is an essential primer on the ways in which increasing regulations affect the day-to-day realities of abortion providers in the United States. Taking its name from the TRAP laws — targeted regulation of abortion providers — the film takes on the tactics that anti-abortion lawmakers use to chip away at abortion rights piece by piece.

The film is filled with distressing statistics about the consequences of these laws on women’s health — one worrying statistic states that 240,000 women in Texas alone have attempted home abortions. The most touching moments demonstrate the power of humane and respectful care.

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Porter focuses her film on a few abortion providers in Louisiana and one clinic in Texas that are either overloaded — because so many other clinics have closed — or hamstrung by the regulations. These providers embody a remarkable mix of tenacity and tenderness as they comfort patients and attempt to discern and comply with labyrinthine regulations.

Despite what the anti-abortion protesters shout outside their doors, they are deeply caring people, who put everything — personal lives, careers, mortgages — on the line to help women. They pray and celebrate together, cry when they have to turn away a young rape victim because of red tape. The issue is urgent: A lawyer for the Center for Reproductive Rights predicts the Supreme Court will have to decide on abortion rights sooner rather than later. While the situation seems at times dire, “Trapped” contains a distinct hopeful streak that is at once defiant and singularly human.



No rating

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Landmark Theater, West Los Angeles