"On the Divide" (Review), abortion issue on the southern border

On the Divide”: three women and the only abortion clinic on the Texas-Mexico border

On the Divide”, directed by Maya Cueva and Leah Gallant, is a 2021 documentary concerning the lives of three women connected to the Whole Woman’s Health Clinic, the only abortion clinic on the Texas-Mexico border, in McAllen.

Merdedes is part of a Catholic pro-life movement and supports a Christian pregnancy center next door, Denisse, with four kids of her own, volunteers at a women’s health clinic. Rey, an elderly security guard, is divided between caring for the women in the clinic and her own beliefs.  The film show models of very tiny unborn children, a few inches long, who do look human in form.

We’ve seen Texas pass an anti-abortion law which makes private citizens of any state the posse enforcement, and yet it seems to any common sense to violate basic constitutional principles, encourages vigilantism, and disregards the legal idea of standing.  Several other states, expecting Roe v. Wade to fall (like Jeffrey Toobin always predicts on CNN with gloom) with the current makeup of SCOTUS, have passed laws that don’t allow exceptions for rape or incest;  in theory a woman does not keep agency over her own body even if she is deliberately violated. That compares to saying a man can be conscripted into sacrificing his own life defending women and children.  SCOTUS will rule on a Mississippi law (15 weeks) in June 2022.

There are discussions in the film about what devices, like IUD’s, would violate abortion laws in any such state.  Olga Khazan had looked at this question for the Atlantic with respect to Hobby Lobby in 2014, link.

I sometimes see anti-abortion protesters along US 29 just south of Falls Church VA driving past.

I even get criticized by others for my own lack of “passion” – for their issues, whatever they be.

I visited the border area at the end of May 2018, especially the border town of Pharra, east of McAllen, as well as Harlingen (the nearest passenger airport).

PBS follows the presentation (April 18) with statements by both directors (a sort of QA without audience).

It followed with a short film “A Mother’s Promise”, animated, by Richard O’Connor, about a child with TPS immigration status who will soon lose the status (Story Corps).

This film was at Tribeca.

PBS Frontline has a film “The Abortion Divide” (April 2019) which I have not yet seen.


Name:  “On the Divide”

Director, writer: Maya Cueva, Leah Gallant

Released:  2021

Format:  1.85:1

When and how viewed:          PBS Independent Lens, 2021/4/18

Length:            79

Rating:            NA

Companies: Fishbowl Films, PBS Independent Lens

Stars:   ****

(Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2022 at 11 AM EDT)