Today is the third of a trilogy of articles I've done to mark the March for Life and the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. My first column covered the local Chicago version of the march, the second covered a local Mass being said in the Chicago area in solidarity with the marchers, and the third is about a widely acclaimed pro-life film that recently debuted. What does that have to do with Chicago, you may wonder. As it turns out, there's a great deal.
“The 40 Film" premiered last December, and is the brainchild of John Morales, a nationally known pro-life activist who is well known to Chicago area residents from his work as a local sports broadcaster. The film made its national premiere on Jan. 22 – just in time for the 41st annual March for Life, and was released by the Chicago-based not-for-profit company Prolife Champions. It was produced in conjunction with Chicago’s Spirit Juice Studios. The film is a documentary about 40 different people who have been involved or affected by the pro-life movement. John Morales says he got the idea for the film while in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament at the Women’s Center, a pregnancy help center in Chicago.
So what makes this pro-life documentary stand out from all the others? Many pro-abortion people argue that pro-lifers are insensitive to the issues of women because they've never been in that situation, and need to put themselves in the pregnant woman's shoes. “The 40 Film” does exactly that. Morales notes that he and his wife, Cynthia, are parents to an adopted son, whose mother choose to give him for adoption rather than abort him. The subject of abortion is something that directly affected them, and this is also the case with the other people featured in the documentary.
Subjects include people from all sides of the abortion issue, including abortion survivors whose mothers attempted to abort them, people who were conceived in rape, doctors who used to perform abortions, and former abortion clinic workers. For example, the film opens and closes with Yvonne Florczak-Seeman, who underwent an abortion procedure on five different occasions before she became a pro-life activist. Florczak-Seeman talks about the horrible consequences of having an abortion, noting that she experienced severe bouts of depression and began using drugs and even attempted suicide to dull the post-abortive pain. Today, she is the mother of four children. Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood director, is another person featured in the video. She tackles the standard pro-choice talking point that abortion should be "safe, legal, and rare". Abby Johnson notes that after pro-abortion people got their way, "The only thing right now out of those three that we're living with is that it's legal", and point out that people who support abortion have done little to focus on the “safe” or “rare” parts of their argument. John Morales even spend a portion of the film talking about the effects that a former girlfriend’s abortion had on him, including lingering guilt and bouts of depression.
The film got its start on December 11th, 2013, when it debuted on the eve of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, at the Pickwick Theater in suburban Park Ridge, IL. The filmmakers are Catholic, and some of the people who appear in the film are religious, including other Catholics and people of various religious faiths. However, the film itself doesn't use a religious argument to make the case for the pro-life cause. Many of the films subjects approach the issue as a basic secular human right, and the producers specifically avoided making the film overtly religious in nature. “You marginalize it by making it a religious issue,” Cindy Morales noted. The film also does not take a political position about government or candidates. "I'm a devout Catholic but the film is not a religious film," John Morales added. He states that the truth is universal, regardless of faith or political affiliation.
The 40 Film is now available for screenings nationwide, and will soon be coming to DVD as well. If you're curious and want to learn more about the film or make a donation to the effort, you can visit www.The40Film.com. And if you're not pro-life because you think those silly anti-abortion people just don't understand the situation that pregnant women find themselves in, you'll probably want to check out this film as well. You may be surprised.