In Huntsville, Alabama, Dr. Yashica Robinson is currently the only OBGYN who's certified to perform abortions. And as detailed in the The New York Times ' new documentary The Chosen Life , she could become the only abortion provider in all of Alabama if the state continues to place restrictions on abortion facilities. Called an "Op-Doc" and directed by Dawn Porter, The Chosen Life follows Robinson through hectic days spent jumping between her own clinic and a local hospital. In the midst of the chaos, the doc repeatedly highlights Robinson's compassion.
As the film follows Robinson out of her house at the beginning of her workday, we see a television screen laden with views from six different security cameras. She makes a phone call to let someone know where she's going and when she'll arrive. A few moments pass, and she pulls into the parking lot of her clinic, where she's faced with protesters who shout that she's making "blood money" or that "It's called murder when you end a life." To these people, Robinson's identity is defined by her job. Little do they care that she's a human being, or that she has an incredible story.
At the age of 15, Robinson could have had an abortion. Instead, she chose to go through with her pregnancy, and she had another child before graduating high school just a few years later. Prevailing over the stigma attached to young mothers who have children out of wedlock, Robinson graduated second in her class of over 400 students. After having to support her grandmother, along with two children, she recognized that continuing her education was the only way to take control of her future.
Today, she does indeed provide abortions, but she also works hard to ensure that women have healthy pregnancies and successful births. She sits with her daughter and listens to her read aloud. And despite those who label abortion supporters heartless "nonbelievers," she also goes to church on a regular basis.
Much too often, politics blinds people from recognizing that every individual has a story, as well as the capacity to feel. It's clear from the moment the documentary begins that Robinson fears for her life, yet she continues to fulfill what she believes is her purpose. Today, her abortion clinic is one of five in Alabama, and the only one that has admitting privileges.
I went into obstetrics and gynecology mainly because I wanted to work with young women like myself. I have patients, you know, they come in and they're going through their own struggles. I think that it's important for them to have somebody that they feel like they can really identify with.
She recalls how that determination nearly landed her in jail after the Department of Justice indicted her for using mislabelled products. Of over 1,000 doctors who also bought products from Medical Device King, which used labels that weren't approved by the FDA, Robinson was the only practitioner who was indicted. In Robinson's opinion, the case targeted her because she provides abortions in an extremely conservative environment.
This op-doc is a collaboration between The New York Times and Chicken & Egg Pictures. According to the company's website, it specializes in supporting "women non-fiction filmmakers whose artful and innovative storytelling catalyzes social change."
In light of recent legislation which limits admitting privileges in North Dakota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee, with the intention of forcing abortion clinics to close, this documentary not only humanizes the people who believe that abortion should be available to women everywhere, but also shows how one incredible woman goes through each day making sure that every woman receives the care they deserve.
Images: Courtesy of The Chosen Life, a New York Times Op-Doc by Dawn Porter