Original published through Catholic New World, Newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago.
By Michelle Martin
The two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion turned 40 years old last year, and now, in time for the 41st annual March for Life on Jan. 22, Chicago-based not-forprofit Prolife Champions has released “The 40 Film,” a documentary on the pro-life movement.
The film is the brainchild of John Morales, a pro-life activist who might be familiar to Chicago- area residents from his work as a local sports broadcaster. He and his wife, Cynthia, are parents to an adopted son, and the issue of abortion is personal to them.
John Morales got the idea for the movie while in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament at the Women’s Center, a pregnancy help center in Chicago.
“We thought originally we’d have the movie ready for the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade,” Cindy Morales said. “But then we ended up at the 40th anniversary march last year, and he did a lot of interviews with pro-life leaders. We finally got it together.”
The film premiered Dec. 11, the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, at the Pickwick Theater in suburban Park Ridge. It was produced in conjunction with Chicago’s Spirit Juice Studios.
Cindy Morales was the film’s development coordinator but “the Holy Spirit is the fundraiser,” she said.
In the movie, Kelsey Hazzard, founder and president of Secular Pro-Life, says the reasons women give for having abortions almost always have to do with what will happen after the baby is born, not the pregnancy itself.
“Nobody ever says I’m having an abortion because I feel my body is being invaded by an alien parasite,” Hazzard said.
According to the film, there were an estimated 1.2 million abortions in the United States in 2012 and 55 million abortions since the procedure was legalized in 1973.
The film includes interviews with pro-life leaders and activists of all stripes, from people whose mothers attempted to abort them, to people who were conceived in rape, to doctors who used to perform abortions and former clinic workers who have changed their minds about abortion. Several women who had abortions and now regret them appear. Some are religious, including Catholics and people of other faiths, and others approach the issue as a secular human right.
Indeed, producers avoided making the film overtly religious.
“You marginalize it by making it a religious issue,” Cindy Morales said. “it should be a mainstream issue.”
Pro-choice activist Sunsara Taylor participated, giving her perspective. Leaders from Planned Parenthood, NARAL and NOW would not agree to be interviewed for the film, John Morales said.
That information is included on a 5-minute “featurette” that is on the film’s DVD and also is available on YouTube. John Morales also talks about the effects a former girlfriend’s abortion had on him, including lingering guilt and bouts of depression.
When he looks at his son today, he said, he is aware that he also could never have been born.
Some parts of the movie are available for viewing on YouTube, and parishes, schools and other groups can schedule showings by working through its distributor, TUGG.
Meanwhile, Pro-Life Champions are still looking for financial support to get the film seen by as many people as possible, Cindy Morales said. She would like to get it into schools, perhaps starting with Catholic schools and then working to get it into public schools.
The Morales’ said the support they have received so far has been invaluable, including use of the Pickwick Theater two nights in a row at no charge and a month’s worth of free commercials on Relevant Radio.
“I don’t think anybody is going to watch this and say, all of the sudden, ‘I changed my mind,’” Cindy Morales said. “But you plant the seed.”