The greater Memphis area branch of Planned Parenthood will host a free screening of the Mississippi-made documentary “Jackson” at 6:30 tonight at the Malco Oxford Commons Cinema Grill.
“Jackson” is a documentary about the only health center that provides abortions in Mississippi, located in the state’s capital. It follows the lives and decisions of the health center’s director, an anti-choice pregnancy center director and a single mother who is pregnant with her fifth child.
“It takes a look through those three perspectives about the importance of access to abortion – not just in Mississippi, but across the country,” said Grace Weil, Director of Development for Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region.
This will not be the first time that “Jackson” has been shown in the Oxford area, and for Weil, the return is no accident. The choice to show “Jackson” in Oxford again is a deliberate response to recent legislation within the state.
In March, Gov. Phil Bryant signed a bill which bans abortions after 15 weeks’ gestation. The ban is currently blocked by a federal judge’s decision, but if it goes into effect, it will be the nation’s strictest abortion restriction.
“While these legal battles are being fought, we felt that it was important, given this latest attack on women’s rights, to bring ‘Jackson’ back to Oxford to have this conversation in a state that really needs its rights to be protected,” Weil said.
In a polarized political climate, adequate knowledge and informed conversations about hot-button topics such as abortion are few and far between. Abbie Perrault, the Community Outreach Coordinator for “Jackson,” said she hopes this screening will provide an avenue for discussion and education.
“Through gathering community members into discussions on tough issues, ‘Jackson’ can provide a clearer look into the issue of reproductive health access in America,” Perrault said. “As the coordinator of grassroots, community screenings of ‘Jackson,’ I believe local documentary screenings can spark conversations that mobilize communities to action.”
Perrault is not alone in her hopes that the upcoming screening of “Jackson” will serve as an eye-opening experience for its audience.
“It helps viewers see the actual impact that things like access to abortion have on individual women’s lives that aren’t as easily explained in a quick article or 30-second Facebook video,” Weil said.
Weil’s social rights advocacy group and Perrault, the filmmaker, have proven themselves a formidable duo that causes people to analyze their dearly held beliefs while also providing a fair and well-rounded view of the topic.
“Our hope with the film is to present the truthful perspectives of those involved in the debate over access to reproductive healthcare and let that guide viewers to a greater understanding of their own beliefs,” Perrault said.
The screening of “Jackson” will allow for viewers to have an intimate look into the struggles that many women in Mississippi face daily.
The screening is free of charge, but Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Area does ask viewers to consider donating, if they are financially able. Prospective viewers are invited to send questions to Grace Weil at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I hope that, by bringing the documentary ‘Jackson’ to Oxford, we help empower Mississippians to stand up against laws like a 15-week abortion ban or laws that restrict access to protected medical procedures,” Weil said. “I hope it allows Mississippians to see that Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region is willing to help Mississippians fight for what we know is right and stand up for patients everywhere.”