Trapped by Undue Burden

A screening and conversation about the use of legal mechanisms in restricting access to abortion and social equality


Fields of Knowledge
  • Health / Sustainability
  • Politics / Economics
  • Social Justice

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Women's Medical Fund, and Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania

Contributing Institutions

Penn Cinema Studies, New Voices Philadelphia and Women's Law Project, ACLU of Pennsylvania, and Film Sprout


Aaron Levy, Katty Otto, Judy Walker

Opens to public





Meyerson Hall B1
210 South 34th Street
Philadelphia PA, 19104

On the web




25% Formal - 75% Informal

Slought, Women's Medical Fund, and Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania are pleased to announce "Trapped by Undue Burden," a screening and conversation about the use of legal mechanisms in restricting access to abortion and social equality. The program will feature Dawn Porter's recent documentary Trapped (2016), followed by a public conversation with activists and providers, including Lexi White of New Voices Philadelphia and of Curtiss Hannum of The Women's Centers, moderated by Stephanie Renée from WURD, on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 from 6:00-8:30pm in Meyerson Hall B1 at the University of Pennsylvania (210 South 34th Street).

From 2011 to 2013, hundreds of state regulations were passed restricting access to abortion in America. Reproductive rights advocates refer to these as "TRAP" laws, or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers. While these laws have been enacted in states across the country, Southern clinics in particular are now in a fight for survival. In Texas, less than half of the clinics open in 2013 are still functioning. In Alabama, a handful of clinics struggle to keep their doors open. And in Mississippi, just one abortion clinic remains. All of these clinics are struggling to comply with requirements that the American Medical Association has deemed medically unnecessary.

Trapped follows the clinic workers and lawyers --including those who are taking their case to the Supreme Court--who are fighting to keep abortion safe and legal for millions of American women, many of whom are poor, uninsured and of color. Discussion of abortion's racial and socio-economic disparities are often missing from the debate. The abortion rate for black women is almost five times that for white women. Yet nearly 50 perfect of Hispanic women and approximately 70 percent of black women live in states without public coverage of abortion, most of which are also now considered "hostile" due to newer state restrictions. Though these rates among black and Hispanic women have decreased along with the rest of the country, they remain significantly higher than the national average.

Across the board, low-income women have higher rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion as well. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation and Guttmacher Institute, these women are less likely to have health insurance or consistent access to healthcare, and therefore birth control. These health disparities, together with restrictive legal mechanisms, deny these women their reproductive rights, but also the institutional support and health services they urgently need. They are, in effect, being trapped twice over, by being required to carry pregnancies to term that they do not want or feel unprepared to handle, while also being denied the services they need to carry these pregnancies to term.

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"Over the course of making this film I witnessed what I truly believe is not only a threat to abortion access, but also a threat to our democratic ideals. States passing laws that flagrantly disregard the constitutional protections set forth in Roe v. Wade are not just a challenge to abortion access, they are a challenge to the rules of democracy. The film examines the obstacles all women—particularly low-income women and women of color—face as they seek to exercise their constitutional rights.

I've seen things that are frightening, like harassment and threats. I've also seen what real courage and resilience looks like. Despite an incredibly hostile environment, doctors and support staff at abortion clinics across America are refusing to give up."

-- Dawn Porter, on the making of Trapped

"Our government has taken a group of women who have little access to health care generally, a heightened incidence of disease and injury, and an increased risk of unintended pregnancy, and then walled off abortion care."

-- Jessica Arons and Madina Agénor, Separate and Unequal (December 2010)