“The Matter of Life” is a new pro-life documentary that takes on the scientific, philosophical, and moral issues behind abortion and addresses the issue of apathy about abortion within a surprisingly large number of churches. It can be seen in nearly 700 theaters nationwide today and tomorrow.
“The Matter of Life” tries to answer the question, “Is the unborn one of us?” It does this by taking the viewer through the history of abortion and Planned Parenthood; the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling; the decision-making process and experiences of mothers facing unplanned pregnancies and the resources available to them; and into the abortion clinic itself, showing what’s actually involved in the abortion procedure at all levels of fetal development. The documentary has received disclaimers noting that the film does depict violence and gore, which further underscores the often-ignored reality that abortion is neither sterile nor free of suffering and victims.
Tracy Robinson, the documentary’s director and producer, was once a pro-choice Christian. “When it came to the abortion issue — even as an evangelical Christian — I was still very on-the-fence and apathetic at best,” she said. “I felt that I was personally pro-life, but it seemed wrong to try to enforce my preference onto others.”
Her view changed when she heard speaker Alan Shlemon of Stand to Reason speak on abortion at an apologetics conference. His “clear, concise argument for the full humanity of the unborn child from the moment of conception” swayed her. She explained,
“The truth struck me. That evening, I felt the vision to make this message into a feature-length documentary that was downloaded to me. I knew there were so many young adults in my shoes who deserved to be informed but never were — perhaps they attended public school and neither their family nor their church ever broached the topic.”
Robinson had previously edited documentaries and produced promotional materials, but “The Matter of Life” is her first full-length feature. “I love documentaries that peel back the layers versus hammer the information over your head. So, I was really passionate about unraveling all of the complexities of abortion and addressing these very common concerns that people legitimately have.”
The documentary is also unique in that it addresses the issue of abortion within the church, bringing out the facts that 4 out of 10 women who have an abortion attend church monthly or more often and 7 out of 10 consider themselves Christians. She explained,
“From the beginning, I knew that my target audience would be Christians because, at the very least, those are the people that would be willing to watch the film…. In the film, Roland Warren, CEO of Care Net, makes the point that ‘this is an issue for us as Christians.… We need to overturn Roe v. Wade in our own pews.’ It occurred to me that this film was being made in order to be a rallying cry for more Christians to confront the issue of abortion.”
She says that the movie challenges the church to take up ways to help pregnant women and provides examples of those doing so.
Pro-life advocates have praised the film. David Bereit, author and former CEO of Forty Days for Life, said, “In 24 years of pro-life work, I have never seen the pro-life message more effectively told in a more concise package which covers every aspect of the movement, every angle, and done so in such a beautiful and compelling way…”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life, described “The Matter of Life” as a “must-watch” film that “does an amazing job unraveling the complexities of the abortion issue through science, philosophy, history and powerful personal stories.”
Meanwhile some abortion advocates are attempting to get the movie canceled, and Facebook has removed all advertisements. Lisa Wheeler of Carmel Communications said,
“There is a grassroots effort to cancel The Matter of Life in theaters. At this point, we do not know if it is gaining any traction, but we do know that social media posts labelling the movie as a ‘forced birth propaganda film’ have been spreading. Theaters are now getting calls telling them to cancel the film. The Matter of Life is a pro-love film as much as it is a pro-life film. It steps into the reality of abortion without ever degrading those who support abortion. The film shares truth in love, and cuts through angry rhetoric, revealing a message of care and concern for the unborn and the women who carry them.“
Christian movie reviewers are praising the movie’s quality, tone, and thought-provoking content. They are warning that the documentary is graphic and shows the violent and disturbing nature of abortion so it is not advisable to bring children. Sites differ on at what age teenagers are able to see it.
Those interested in seeing the documentary can find theaters showing the film and pre-purchase tickets by visiting Fantom Events.
This documentary does something the church has failed to do: Show Christians why being pro-life is so important. Unfortunately, many Christians are ignorant on the abortion issue, opting to be personally pro-life but believing that others should be able to decide for themselves. When people learn what abortion really is and are challenged to wrestle with the propaganda forced on them by the abortion lobby, they become pro-life. The truth is each baby in the womb is a human life, and abortion brutally murders that baby.
Churches must speak out on this issue and they must educate their congregations on exactly what abortion is and what’s involved. Not everyone wants to know the truth behind abortion, but everyone needs to know. Churches may be pro-life in their principles but by ignoring the issue they are functionally neutral. As William Wolfe, a Standing for Freedom Center contributor, recently noted, “Courage is the operating system on which your convictions run. Without it, it really doesn’t matter what you say you believe.”
Scripture is replete with examples of believers who stood for biblical principles despite the financial, social, and physical risks. Churches must remember Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who took a stand against a ruler who wanted to force them to worship an image and, as a result, were arrested, bound, and thrown into a fiery furnace. They must remember Moses, who risked his royal status to save the life of a slave and to ultimately seek and find God’s will for his life. They must remember Stephen who in the face of a mob confronted them with the truth of the Gospel, which only enraged them further and led them to stone him to death.
It must also remember that the early church was slandered by the surrounding culture for saving babies who had been abandoned to die. It was common practice in ancient society to leave infants outside and let them languish and perish of exposure at any point during their first eight days if they were girls or sick or disabled, or simply unwanted; Greek historian Plutarch stated that at that stage of development a child “was more like a plant than a human being.”
Christians, however, recalling the words of Jesus describing His love for children and the inherent value of each and every one of them, would rescue those babies. The culture claimed that Christians were eating the babies. Today, the slander is different. Instead of calling them cannibals, today’s secularists accuse Christians of being bigots; misogynists; advocates of extreme, forced birth; or pro-birthers, who only care about the lives of children before birth and not after.
The American church lives in a nation that is blinded to the truth and faces zealous advocates who never want to see the act of abortion threatened in any way. The church must be equally zealous for the pro-life position, Robinson says, to grab the “opportunity to be the hands and feet for Jesus” and “to model His grace” in supporting women and protecting children. And that starts with confronting the true facts around the one issue the church doesn’t always want to talk about: abortion.