Friday 20 September 2019

Irish couple's controversial film about abortion to screen at White House

Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer will screen at the White House today

Filmmakers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer get the sand between their toes
Filmmakers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer get the sand between their toes
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

A controversial film about a US doctor who ran a secret abortion clinic will reportedly be screened at the White House today.

Gosnell: The Trial of America's Biggest Serial Killer was co-created by Donegal woman Anne McElhinney and her husband, Phelim McAleer, from Tyrone.

The film stars Dean Cain as Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia-based doctor and abortion provider who was convicted in 2013 of murdering three babies who were born alive during attempted abortions and of dozens of counts of providing abortions past the legal limit. reports that around 150 guests from anti-abortion and faith groups have been invited to attend the screening although President Trump is not expected to attend.

The pro-life film, which is directed by Nick Searcy, has been criticised for allegedly villifying legal abortion by presenting Gosnell as typical of abortion providers.  It also reportedly features graphic depictions of second and third trimester abortions.

McElhinney and McAleer, who have been vocal about their own pro-life views, addressed the fact that many media outlets across the US refused to review the flim in an interview with The Sunday Independent.

"We've been trying to get the film out for three years," McElhinney said. "And that makes the refusal of much of the media to review the film all the more ludicrous", added McAleer. "Here you have the hottest political topic in America and it's the subject of a successful movie like this, and still they won't touch it - it's pathetic really."

They had to use crowdfunding to finance the film.  However, Gosnell has been gaining traction and support from anti-abortion activists and groups across the US since its release and the screening at the White House aligns with President Trump's pro-life stance.

During his State of the Union speech in February he said, “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life."  He also criticised late term abortion bills passed in New York and Virginia.

Earlier this month the administration outlined plans to extend the Mexico City Policy which is a US government policy that blocks US federal funding for NGOs that provide abortion counselling or referrals, advocate to decriminalise abortion or expand abortion services.

It would see the restrictions expanded to any groups or organizations affiliated to international NGOs that promote "abortion as a method of birth control".

Vice President Mike Pence, who also opposes abortion, last week tweeted in support of another abortion film, Unplanned, which is based on the book by Abby Johnson,a  former Planned Parenthood clinic director who is now an anti-abortion activist.

Films have been screened at the White House since 1915.  The Trump administration's first screening was Finding Dory.

Read more: Why have critics ignored Irish couple's top 10 US box office movie hit?

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