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New documentary tackles the less-talked about topic of abortion later in pregnancy

Three women share their stories on the barriers to obtaining an abortion later in pregnancy in new documentary, Someone You Know
Asha Dahya
/
Someone You Know
Three women share their stories on the barriers to obtaining an abortion later in pregnancy in new documentary, Someone You Know

A Conejo-Valley film-maker has made the timely documentary.

The documentary is called Someone You Know, and directed by film-maker and producer Asha Dahya.

The short film introduces us to three women – Mindy Swank, Valerie Peterson and Sharon Lagos - who all found themselves navigating an abortion later in pregnancy.

"These stories took place before 2022, before Roe v Wade was overturned, so that hostility and those barriers have existed for a long time now. It's only going to get worse and is getting worse," said Dahya.

Dahya says with no abortion services in at least 89% of US counties, and the number of facilities offering abortion after the first trimester even more limited – the barriers are high and the topic is taboo.

"The cost of having to travel out of state, find a provider, the shame and the stigma. So those barriers are becoming more and more common in the United States, especially with Roe v Wade being overturned. But a lot of the times it [later abortion] is under the most dire circumstance. So to make it inaccessible and to make it heavily stigmatized, and for pro-choice people not to speak out in favor it, we're only perpetuating an environment that causes harm. And so I want to change that," said Dahya.

Dahya said the documentary puts a human side to the many reasons women may need an abortion later in pregnancy – and the seemingly insurmountable barriers to accessing one.

Stories like Mindy Swank's.

"Her story is just heartbreaking. She is from the Midwest. She was already a mother at this point. She previously considered herself, 'pro-life'. She was very religious and was brought up to think that abortions are easy to access...that they kind of just hand them out wherever you go. Until she got to her second pregnancy and was given a very heartbreaking diagnosis at about the 15/16 week mark. So she's already in a second trimester, and she naively thought, okay, my fetus is incompatible with life. I'm going to be able to get the care that I need, because this is what the doctors are telling me. She couldn't have been more wrong, and that's because she was caught up in the Catholic hospital system, and they own 1 in 6 hospital beds across the United States. They routinely deny a number of reproductive services, including abortion, tubal ligation, IVF, birth control and many more," she said.

"So even though she had this diagnosis that a fetus was incompatible with life, she went to see ten different doctors, and she even got to the point where she started hemorrhaging. Her water had broken and it just kept going on week after week after week. But she kept getting denied from the hospital or denied from the doctor. They wouldn't help her. They wouldn't give her the paperwork she needed. And at this point, she needs to raise thousands of dollars. She's bleeding. She goes to the hospital and says, 'My water is broken. I'm bleeding. This is it. I mean, surely this is far enough along that I can get the care they need?' And they said, 'Yes, we can see you bleeding, but you're not bleeding enough. So come back when there's a little bit more blood.' And she and her husband were just flabbergasted, like, how much do I have to bleed?"

Dahya says she’s not seeking to change minds - but to generate empathy and understanding on the divisive topic.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 10 Golden Mike Awards, 5 Los Angeles Press Club Awards, 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Writing.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for eleven years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.