When award-winning film producer and director John Morales asked God what was his next assignment, it became crystal clear while at a noon Mass at the Women’s Center in Chicago. It was to be about the issue of abortion.
Two years later, after countless hours of writing, editing footage and fundraising, his film “40” will premiere Dec. 11 in Park Ridge, Ill.
Since day one, he has worked with the production team from Chicago-based Spirit Juice Studios. He also has teamed up with Movie to Movement to help raise money for and distribute the film.
Roe v. Wade,“40” takes its name from the fact that 2013 marked the 40th anniversary of and the 40th annual March for Life took place in Washington, D.C., in January.
“This is not a Catholic film per se; rather it is a cross section of all the different groups that are fighting against this holocaust,” Morales told Our Sunday Visitor.
The film is in many ways a “who’s who” of pro-life leaders. For instance, Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, Dr. Day Gardner, president of the National Black Pro-Life Union, and Lila Rose, the founder of Live Action, are all highlighted.
Morales does not shy away from interviewing those who are in favor of abortion as well. He told OSV he contacted the national offices of Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the National Organization for Women (NOW) to get comment, but none of those organizations responded.
One of the things that Morales learned during filming was the tragedy that goes on daily in the African-American and Hispanic communities.
“It is just horrific,” he said. “Over 1,500 African-American babies die every single day in the United States. It is more than 825 babies in the Hispanic community. So few people know about this. It is clear that there has been a very strategic attack from Planned Parenthood. They have more than 80 percent of their clinics in these minority neighborhoods.”
Morales is adamant that abortion is not a religious issue nor a political issue. Rather, he said, it is the premier civil rights issue of our times. With that in mind, he uses footage from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
It is also a personal issue. In his early 20s, his girlfriend became pregnant; despite his pleading, she had an abortion.
“It left a hole in my heart for many, many years,” he said.
Looking to the future
Will Roe v. Wade be overturned? Though hoping and praying it will, Morales is not sure. Instead, he sees hope working with state legislation such as the Personhood Amendment movement. “I think that personhood is going to be a very important part of the puzzle to end legalized abortion in this country,” he said.
Eddie O’Neill writes from Missouri.