This article was originally published on June 27, 2017. We're bringing it to your attention in light of International Safe Abortion Day today.
Just beyond the parking lot of the Jackson Women's Health Center in Mississippi, protesters gather, brandishing signs, singing hymns, and clutching their Bibles. Escorts and security guards hold the line between the protestors and the women entering the clinic, but the protesters raise their voices for all to hear.
"Mommy, mommy, don't kill me, mommy," a man in a pro-life T-shirt says to a woman approaching the clinic. A child among the protesters calls out, "In the end, there will be judgment!"
As the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, the Health Center has become the front line of the state's war on reproductive rights. On one side of the parking lot stand the doctors who wish to protect women's right to choose, and on the other stand those who'd like to see the clinic shut down for good. This contentious fight has been documented by Maisie Crow, a documentary film director, cinematographer, and photographer.
After finishing The Last Clinic, her short film about the Health Center, Crow started working on another film, Jackson, a full-length version that tells the story of abortion access in Mississippi from all angles. In fact, Jackson features abortion providers and crisis pregnancy center (CPC) employees in equal measure.
For those who aren't familiar with CPCs, they are essentially offices that work to deter women from having abortions. The tactics they use involve false information and emotional manipulation, and they're usually in close proximity to actual abortion clinics — it's not uncommon for CPC employees to intercept women on their way to terminate a pregnancy.
Crow says that the goals of a CPC go well beyond stopping an abortion. Oftentimes, women leave these facilities believing that giving birth is their only "real" option. That's exactly the impression that April Jackson, the pregnant mother of four whom Crow features in Jackson, came away with.
"She didn’t know that she could go to the [abortion] clinic, or [she] was too fearful to go because of what the anti-abortion movement had instilled in her," Crow says. "In places like Mississippi, the anti-abortion movement’s message is just so much louder than the message for choice."
And according to Crow, that's exactly what the Jackson Women's Health Center is working to counteract: Its goal is to promote choice. "Not to provide women necessarily with abortions, but to provide women with the option to have an abortion," she says.
This message lies at the heart of Jackson, and all of Crow's work in Mississippi, for that matter. Abortion isn't accessible simply when a clinic is allowed to remain open. It's accessible when women have the information, resources, and emotional space to decide for themselves whether they're going to walk into that clinic in the first place.
Throughout her time filming in Mississippi, Crow shot still photos of the clinic and the people in and around it. On the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down abortion restrictions in Texas, we're bringing Crow's images to your attention as a reminder of the state of abortion access nationwide. "We need to work hard for the people in Mississippi, but we also need to be aware that this is happening across the country," Crow says.
Ahead, view a selection of Crow's work and read about her experiences in her own words.