Main content

Casting the First Stone

Casting the First Stone

CASTING THE FIRST STONE focuses on six women who regularly confront each other from opposite sides of a police barricade. Three believe that abortion is an inalienable right. Three consider it murder.

Shelley Miller, director of the Women's Suburban Clinic in Paoli, Pennsylvania, endures constant harassment from anti-abortion groups camped outside her doors. Joan Scalia, a Catholic mother of six, defies her husband to join Operation Rescue's efforts. Sharon Owens, clinic counselor and adoptive mother of three, is closer to the middle. She cannot decide when human life begins, but feels required—as a Christian—to serve others who must.

As it chronicles the daily lives of these and the other women, the camera records anti-abortion blockades, counseling sessions, a visit with a young mother the protesters persuaded to have her baby, and Planned Parenthood's emergency board meetings after the Supreme Court's historic Webster v. Missouri decision.

Rare in giving equal voice to both sides, CASTING THE FIRST STONE is among the most insightful documents of the abortion struggle ever made.

"A riveting, unblinking look at the realities of the abortion debate, giving us enormous insight into why American women are so deeply divided."—Faye Ginsburg, New York University; author, "Contested Lives: The Abortion Debate in an American Community"

"If you can use only one film or tape about abortion, this is the one to choose."—Professor Virginia Yans McGlaughlin, Rutgers University


Main credits

Gustafson, Julie (film director)
Gustafson, Julie (film producer)
Petito, John H. (film producer)

Other credits

Camera, Julie Gustafson; editor, Rebecca Haggerty.

Docuseek subjects

Distributor subjects

Health Issues
Women's Health
Women's Studies


abortion; reproductive; rights; right to life; ; "Casting the First Stone"; Icarus Films; "Casting the First Stone"; Icarus Films


Speaker 1: Next on POV.

Speaker: There's all the people out there that are protesting abortion. What answers are they offering?

Speaker: It's only going to be through suffering, Ben, that this even--

Ben: That's where your deep thinking, we've got to get arrested.

Speaker 1: Casting the First Stone probes the personal issues that fuel the public debate over abortion rights.

Speaker: It's about choices and options of how people choose to live their lives.

Speaker 1: Major funding for POV has been provided by the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation to increase public awareness of independent film and video, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and viewers like you. Julie Gustafson, director.

Julie Gustafson: What I found as I did this project is that people did not understand that in our society we have always made difficult choices about what lives were valuable, and what life to preserve at what given time. I wanted to use this tape as an opportunity just to see how different people weigh and value a life at a given point, and to make some comparisons. If you were to argue that the life of a fetus is as valuable as a fully grown woman who has aspirations and who has needs in the world now, what about the life of a prisoner on death row?

Is his life not as valuable as the life of that fetus? Why are there such inconsistencies in the way we work this out? What I found is that there are a lot of class differences, a lot of social differences, a lot of racial differences, a lot of age differences, a lot of religious differences about the way people decide to put a value on a life. That's what this work is about. It's about trying to, as fairly as possible, listen to both sides on this issue, and in a sense to try to see if there is any common ground, and to see if there's any possibility for a dialogue on this issue.

Speaker: Car 2268254.

[police radio chatter]

I've conducted a check of the clinic. Everything is clear for now.

[police radio chatter]

10-4, sir.

Speaker: Everyone listen very carefully to me. The pro-death people are inside the facility. They might try and break through one of these three doors. You've got to be prepared to do what you're told the moment you're told. Whether it's lock arms. Whatever it is, you've got to be prepared to do it immediately. Well, I'm thankful that we're all here. Are you glad we're here?

Crowd: Amen.

Speaker: Amen. Glory to God.

Shelley Miller: I don't think it is for blockading people from receiving medical care. I don't believe that is peaceful.

Speaker: Would you feel the same way about a civil rights March?

Shelley: We have always said, people are entitled to freedom of speech. They are not titled to harass, to intimidate, and torment women.

Speaker: They're entitled to live too.

Speaker: People right here are standing up for bigotry. We're standing up for bigotry.

Speaker: I'll tell you one thing, a country that kills 22 million children. That's not right.

Speaker: A religion that denies people their freedom is bigotry.

Speaker: An unjust law. An unjust law is no law.

Speaker: Who are you to determine what's unjust for me?

Speaker: You tell me it's all right to kill children.

Speaker: Who are you to tell me that.

Speaker: It's all right to kill children?

Speaker: Who are you to tell my religion you're wrong?

Speaker: I say you're wrong. It is wrong to kill children.

Speaker: Rome is wrong.

Randall Terry: The reason that we're doing this is to have an active repentance before God because we've let this go on for so long, and to help stimulate an upheaval, a peaceful, righteous upheaval that ultimately brings enough tension to produce political change.

Steven: Ma'am, I'm Steven Dintino, the police department, Chester County, Pennsylvania. You must leave this area immediately, or you'll be arrested. Ma'am, I'm arresting you for criminal trespass. Can you stand up for me, please?

Frances Sheehan: I think the most infuriating thing is to realize how this affects the patients. The patients who schedule to come here today who are already in difficult personal situations, how it affects the staff who really put themselves on the line everyday to come here to the clinic to work, to serve the women who come here.

Crowd: [singing] Holy, holy, holy

Merciful and mighty

God in three persons

Blessed trinity.

Speaker: Let the children live.

Mona: Am I really so different from anybody else.

Sharon Owens: You're feeling different than other people at this point? What way are you feeling different?

Mona: This shouldn't have happened.

Sharon: What does "shouldn't have happened" mean to you?

Mona: I shouldn't have gotten pregnant when I wasn't supposed to.

Sharon: What should you have done?

Mona: I don't know because I don't know when I got pregnant.

Sharon: Tell me a little about your relationship with him.

Mona: I've been seeing him for the past five years. He is the father of my second daughter.

Sharon: It's been hard for you.

Mona: He's actually married. He keeps saying that, just a couple more months or something, that he is going to leave, and he doesn't. I don't understand if he had left her. Maybe a couple months ago this would be okay, but now it's not okay.

Sharon: Help me understand that a little bit.

Mona: I just feel that they're going to rip it apart, and that's going to hurt. That hurts me because I don't want to do that. It's like killing my child, because I know, having had a child with him before, I already see a final product.

Sharon: I see.

[baby crying]

Shelley: Joan, I don't know if you want to get into this now, but I wanted to relay to you my feelings about something you said last week when you called and suggested. You told me you were praying for my conversion to Christ.

Joan: Conversion, right.

Shelley: I was real offended by it. I thought it showed a real lack of respect for me and my personal choice of the religion I've chosen for myself.

Joan: I still will pray for you, even though it offends you. If you had Jesus as your savior and God, you would not be the administrator of an abortion clinic.

Shelley: My impression in Jesus from what I have heard and read is, he was incredibly loving and caring person.

Joan: That's right. Exactly.

Shelley: Didn't judge people.

Joan: That's right, exactly. You're right. You're correct.

Shelley: Is it caring and respectful to come to a woman at this clinic saying, "Don't go in there and kill your baby. They shred babies parts, and you will never have babies again"? Is that a caring thing to say?

Joan: Do you believe this child at 10 weeks is a living human being breathing.

Shelley: At 10 weeks in utero. Fetus can't live and breathe.

Speaker: This is eight weeks.

Mona: I guess I'm more worried, not so much about the soul, but rather the pain. Does it feel anything?

Sharon: Well, that's a good question. It's one that we certainly look into because I would have a hard time working here if I thought that that were true. In terms of pain development, it appears that that happens much later. Now, the protesters say something different. I have to look at what the information is that's coming along to us. The people I trust now medically are saying that they don't think that there's any pain involved in fetus in a first, or probably even in a second trimester abortion.

Debbie Baker: Shelley, the abortionists acknowledge that life begins at conception. They just put a value on it. Whether it's a person or not.

Shelley: When does personhood--

Joan: At conception.

Shelley: At conception.

Joan: At conception, that is a unique person that has begun.

Shelley: It has soul and it has all the inalienable rates that I have.

Joan: Exactly.

Shelley: You would like to weigh the life of a 16 year old teenager against the life of a two week fetus.

Debbie: A person's value does not hinge on the value that another person places on him. It's an absolute. How can you say, if I decide that you're not valuable to me, you're expendable? That's not the ethic upon which we live. You are valuable to me. You are valuable because you are created in image and likeness of God, and you are on your own merits, valuable. That's how we feel about these children.

Mona: There's all the people out there that are protesting abortion. What answers are they offering? Are they offering any or they're just say just don't do it?

Sharon: In fairness to them, I think that some of them were willing to take in women until the baby is born. Some of them will help with that process of placing a baby for adoption. As far as long-term help is concerned, I don't think that there is any really. There's welfare. We might be able to get you some financial help for short-term, but it would be that. It would be short-term.

Shelley: You're right, you don't live in a perfect world. People get pregnant when they don't want to, people live in all sorts of situations in which they're forced into sex when they don't want to have sex. We have teenagers living in the society where they don't use birth control when they're sexually active. We live in a society in which women don't have food to put on the table for their children, or living on the streets now with their kids. Let's take care of those social evils, and then maybe we won't need abortion the way we need it today.

Speaker: You people aren't out there saying that.

Alberta Fay Horrocks: What you're saying is poverty, kill babies. 10 weeks, they don't mean anything, kill the baby.

Shelley: I would say social issue of poverty. I want the right for women of any means to make the decision--

Debbie: Excuse the crudity, but she could close her legs anytime.

Speaker: Shelley.

Speaker: She can decide.

Speaker: Shelley, are you not--

Shelley: Yes, women can very easily not have sex, you're absolutely right.

Debbie: Until she's ready to commit herself to marriage.

Ben Scalia: Yes, I'm dying here.

Joan Scalia: [laughs] He's dying. Those are his famous last words, is when he gets hungry, he's always dying. You remember when I said how good and evil, and the human, and the spiritual phases are-- Don't they look good?

Speaker: Yes.

Joan: Pretty good. I think that we're coming from such different directions that we're really not even communicating with one another. I can see where they're coming from, but do they see where I'm coming from? Can they understand?

Ben: I don't believe in this-- How do you say? What the word I'm looking for?

Speaker: Feminism?

Ben: Feminist movement. I'm from the old school, I'm from ethnic background. A man should be a man, a woman should be a woman, period. Amen.

It's good. It's too much.

Speaker: You think Joan too far in her work?

Ben: I don't believe in getting arrested.

Joan: I couldn't get arrested on July the 5th at the Paoli Clinic because I was obeying my husband's wishes.

Ben: Tell 'em the other story, don't tell them that story. That story is--

Joan: Then four days later I disobeyed Ben, and got arrested in Cherry Hill.

Ben: You hurt your movement when you do that.

Joan: After 16 years of writing to congressmen, you know what I've done through those, and nothing happening. When operation rescue came into being, that's when things started to happen. There was a tension that's put on to society. It's just the same as with the civil rights movement.

Ben: Take it, sing, pray. Don't get arrested.

Joan: If you're doing all that and the babies are still getting killed, what are you going to do now?

Ben: When the police say "Move," you move.

Speaker: Ben, does it bother you when she doesn't listen to you?

Ben: Does it bother me for what?

Speaker: When she doesn't listen to you, when she doesn't obey, as she said.

Ben: I don't use the word "obey", but when she doesn't listen, yes it does bother me.

Joan: He hurt me when he paid my fine, I was willing to go to jail. I would have gone to jail.

Speaker: You paid her fine?

Joan: He paid my fine without my knowledge, and that hurt. Right, Ben?

Ben: Talk about that happening to anybody. $155, [whistles] [laughs]

Joan: See. You could have saved the $155, I could have been--

Ben: Should I make coffee or--?

Joan: Yes. I would have only been in jail for what? Three days? Four days? He doesn't care much to discuss things when it's-- I'm not easy to live with. [laughs]

Shelley: Hello, it's Surburban Clinic. Hi Jenny, I'm Shelley. Okay. It would be helpful to know your first name so we know who [crosstalk]

Jenny: Jenny.

Shelley: You're [unintelligible 00:13:57] mom? How old are you?

Jenny: 32.

Shelley: Why don't you read this and give your mom a chance to read it overall? It's a consent form. Don't sign it yet. There'll be a counselor with you shortly. The counselor would probably want to see Jen by herself first.

Speaker: The clinic opened in 1973, shortly after the Roe versus Wade Supreme Court decision. The vision of the clinic just about from the beginning, I would say, has been to be a feminist clinic. We're not here to encourage women to have abortions, but to let them know that they have choices in their life, that they have self-determination.

Speaker: My issue with the protest has to do with how they treat people.

Speaker: It seems like it's so much wasted time.

Speaker: When you talk with them, you don't feel like they're really listening, they're ready to jump right in.

Speaker: On my way into clinic one of the protesters stopped me upfront and she said "Can I talk to you for a minute?" I said "Okay." There's reservation. She said "I just want to know, do you call yourself a self-professed Christian?" I said "No, I call myself a self-professed Jew." She just took three steps back and looked at me like I was an alien, and just walked away. I smiled to myself and said "Hey."


Sharon: I guess because I'm a Christian it's difficult to just discount everything that they have to say. Even though I don't want to be a born-again Christian and I don't want to be anti-choice or anti-abortion, some of the things that they say really get to me. I want to know too when a fetus receives a soul. That would make things maybe easier for me. I don't know, maybe in the long run it'd make it more difficult.

You kids want to come help me set the table? Ben, you better put the ice in the glasses, okay? Becca, how about you take the napkins? Maybe we should be thankful. I'd be thankful for anybody who could cut the defense budget and make sure that you kids have a safe world to grow up in.

Caroline: It's interesting how we place our value on our massive cells that we call a fetus when we don't place the same kind of value on human life at other stages.

Sharon: The protesters often get me in and say, "How can you be a Christian, and how could you be married to a minister and still work in an abortion clinic?" You know, Jesus always was there where the hardest decisions in life were being made in a non-judgmental kind of way. When they stand there and grab the clients, and pretend that they know what's good for them, I think that Jesus probably, were He there, would say "Any of those of you who are without sin, cast the first stone." They can't take that kind of Christianity away from me. I will work in an abortion clinic like you, Caroline, because I think that it behooves a Christian to be in the places where the hard decisions of life are being made.

Caroline: Where suffering is.

Sharon: Yes, right.

Speaker: If you need help, it's not too late to change your mind. We can get you free medical care, free housing, anything you need. There's time before the abortionist gets here. Think about it. You want to change your mind, come out here and let us help you.

Speaker: How far along are you?

Speaker: Eight weeks.

Speaker: Eight weeks, okay. By this time, your baby has brainwaves and a beating heart. Many physicians feel that at this stage of the pregnancy, the baby does feel pain.

Izelia Pollard: I remember when Alberta was telling me that the baby will be shredded apart, and I just couldn't see my baby being shredded apart like that. A part of me. I was like "No, I can't go through this." I don't see how other people can go through that neither.

Alberta: That's how we feel. We feel that if they knew what was going on, it just wouldn't be a choice.

Izelia: Then when you showed me the little pamphlet--

Alberta: With the baby.

Izelia: Yes. That's what they did.

Alberta: Yes, okay.


That's what they did.

Speaker: Aw, he's so sweet.

Izelia: Yes, she got a size two.

Speaker: I go once a week to the abortion clinic to do the sidewalk counseling. I approached the girls and ask them if they would like to look at the alternatives. I even tell them that we will give housing, and we'll be there for them.

Speaker: I'm ready to play here.

Izelia: They offered me a lot of help. If I need a babysitter, y'all send me places where I could go. If I needed things like cribs or anything-- I wasn't alone.

Alberta: Glad to see that you're getting your education too.

Izelia: Thank you.

Alberta: Yes. Real proud of you. [unintelligible 00:19:02]

Speaker: He say, "Hey everybody, move here."

Speaker: Hi.

Izelia: You want the best for yourself, you need education.

Crowd: [singing] America, America--


Speaker: Proud of yourself, and you're sitting on God's property, God bless you.

Crowd: [singing] [unintelligible 00:19:23] thy soul in self-control

By liberty in--

Denise James: The first national operation rescue was held last November in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Since then, the numbers of national and local demonstrations like this one have increased, but pro-choice advocates insist these demonstrations do not change people's minds.

Speaker: It makes people feel that abortion is very much under siege and the response that we get from pro-choice reporters is to become increasingly committed to the issue as a result.

Denise: The clinic plans to resume full operation tomorrow. Denise Jame, Channel 6 Action News, in Paoli.

Speaker: This has been a hectic day in the abortion battle in the Delaware Valley.

Shelley: It's fair to say we had good reason to believe we were going to be hit on Tuesday. I felt that our clinic was really well prepared. I was thrilled with our staff's reaction response. We all slept better Tuesday night. We probably slept for a week. I'm very happy it's over. There is no doubt about that.

Speaker: I don't want us to spend a lot of time overreacting to these people because I think that the press that they generated, they don't deserve. They don't deserve. If that's as many people they can get for a national demonstration, that's nothing. That's nothing.

Shelley: It was easy for all of us to do what we did because we know we're committed to what we're doing, and we're right.


Debbie: What do you want to do first, girls?

Speaker: Math.

Speaker: Math.

Debbie: Math?

Speaker: History.

Speaker: Math.

Debbie: We'll do math two against one. Joan, just wait till I get the girls settled. Jessica, you have--

Homeschooling has a lot to do with an attitude toward children. I want to teach them Christian values so when they are challenged, they will be strong enough to resist. Three. It's 14. That's good.

We have the physical world. No, we have mathematics, physical sciences, but we also had the spiritual world. There is a God, and He's very important. He was very, very important in shaping our nation and our history. That's totally ignored in public school textbooks, how God, and even in general, religion, influenced who we are today.

That say doing equation 16 x 4 + 6 - 8/2.

We have to shift from pricing things, and accomplishments, career accomplishments, to valuing the relationships that we have with one another. I'm poor, take a look around, you know I'm not very wealthy in worldly standards, but I consider myself rich because I have my children who I love, and I have my husband whom I love, and I have close friends whom I love.

Shelley: The cartwheel? You're better off doing it on the harder sand, I think, no?

Speaker: Hey.


Shelley: I grew up in the '60s and early '70s, and feel I was very much influenced by those times. I don't want my children to certainly think the way I think. I want them to understand my own value system, where I come from, and ultimately be able to figure out what's right for them. I would like my daughters, as they grow up, to be able to be economically independent people.

That must be very threatening for some people who are very traditional in the role of who a woman is and what a mother is. I think it has to do, again, with choices and options. That may have to do with the timing of pregnancies and when we choose to get married, when we choose to have children, if we choose to have children, if we choose to get married.

Debbie: You know what really offends me with the feminist? That somebody, for one, presumes to speak for me as a woman. These are women's rights activists,

Patrick Baker: I talk to people about what my wife does. Does she work at home? Yes, she works at home. [laughs] They can't see how you do all the reading you do, the homeschooling.

Debbie: Get myself into trouble. [chuckles]

Patrick: Yet you come home, you make me dinner, you get up in the morning, and you have coffee made for me. I am just totally blessed by that. Right now, we're sacrificing a good bit just so that we can stay current with our values.

Shelley: Because the two-income family is economically the norm. To me, the most important thing is that for the children, I have the ability to affect what happens in the future. When we're dead, our chapter in history is over. Pat and Debbie Baker, nobody will know us, say two generations from now, but they'll know our descendants. That's very, very powerful.

Speaker: All right, we're ready Pat.

[background music]

Father Roland Slobogin: Good evening, everyone. Welcome again to Voices for the unborn. My name is Father Roland Slobogin. I have a big decision to make in November. To help you to be informed concerning your decision, right now I just want to begin the show by playing a part of it, a talk that Vice President George Bush gave on July 22nd in Washington to the National Right to Life Committee. Let him speak to you exactly right now where he is at on the sanctity of life. Hear it now directly as we have programmed his speech concerning his position.

Vice President George Bush: I believe that abortion is wrong. I believe that we should work for a constitutional amendment to overturn Roe versus Wade, that states should have the right to prohibit abortions, that federal funds should not be used to finance abortion. I believe we need to human life amendment.

Roland: Five beautiful points.

Mary Beliveau: It is just a matter of time before the Roe v Wade, abortion on demand decision will be overturned.

Roland: Because of the Supreme Court.

Mary: That's correct. The person who is going to be in the presidency who will have the power to appoint the next justices to the US supreme court.

Roland: Three justices. I think right now, 80 years old.

Mary: That's correct.

Roland: Waiting to step down.

Dennis O'Brien: There is a moral agenda that has to be addressed in this country. I think that is the issue of this presidential election.

Roland: It is the issue that has to concern all of us. God be with you. Thanks for being a voice.

Mary: Thank you very much.

Frances: Hi, Mrs Asik. My name is Frances Gianne. I'm calling from Karen Ritter's campaign for re-election to the State House of Representatives. Can we count on you to vote for Karen on Tuesday? You haven't quite decided? Well, I hope you really look carefully at her record. Thanks so much. It's so unfortunate that so many people are not taking this election seriously, because it's going to change some people's lives. The whole drive to illegalize abortion is integrally connected to women being active players in the public sphere. That their concept of family values is different because to them, a family is a woman in the home, the man is outside working, the kids are in school, they're certainly not in daycare, and they're--

Karen Ritter: They're not getting sex education [inaudible 00:27:06]

Frances: That's for sure, which means they're probably be pregnant soon. Anyway, I think what's really unfortunate is that if abortion were to be illegalized, it is true that women's ability to compete in the public sphere or participate actively, and make decent incomes is going to be constrained, and they know that.

Speaker: This is the CBS evening news. The Bush [unintelligible 00:27:29] ticket was heavily favored in the pre-election polls.

Speaker: I'll put the focus on that on you and how you felt when you went to the polls today. What [crosstalk]--

Sharon: I'll put the focus on that.

Speaker: This election turns unchanged. Either you want it or you don't.

Sharon: Bush.

Joan: I based my whole life on faith. I lost my own mother when I was two and a half years old. I was raised by very good nuns, Roman-Catholic nuns. What my church teaches is so great that it's even beyond my understanding, and that if I obey it, even while at the present time, I may not understand it. With time, I do. I do understand now, their reasoning for birth control, especially when I see what has come into the world through technology.

Then I really understand the evil of contraception, and how it really even destroys the unity between a husband and a wife, because it causes them, the woman, to become nothing more than a sex object. In my day and age, the church gave us the rhythm method. Now, that didn't work. I had six children and I have proof that it didn't work. [chuckles] You can't say that the act itself is not pleasurable, and God did not mean it to be non-pleasurable because he made it pleasurable, but He just did not want you to use it for pleasure.

Alberta: When I was growing up it was you dated, then you went steady. Then you got engaged and they got married. Now there is dating--

Speaker: Then you got divorced.

Alberta: Then you got divorced.


That's what happened to me. Then I got divorced. Matter of fact, I met my husband, my first husband, when I was 14. That gives you the danger--

I developed a six-week teen chastity program as an alternative to Planned Parenthood sex education. Instead of the condom in the diaphragm, I advocate abstinence for teens. Abortion is brought about because of a value system, because of a worldview, not because of the lack of women not being able to get hold of a condom.

What's with birth control? If you do become sexually active, what would happen if there's a failure? Who wants to get married here when they grow up? Cassie, you don't, right?

Cassie: Boys get on my nerves, and I want to have my own money.

Speaker: If you want to go out and get a job and have your own money, that's fine, but he was the one who was meant to do it. I'm not saying that he's better than us. I'm saying that he's one who's supposed to hold up the house and protect them and stuff.

Alberta: So he'd be the one who does the economics, the working, she takes care of the children, the nurturing, so she'd be the nurturer. There are so many activists who are trying to close the abortion clinics down because the belief is that we have to draw the line.

Speaker: If you have AIDS and you are going to have a child that's going to have AIDS, I wouldn't have the child because that child would have to suffer because of you.

Alberta: When you're talking about the abortion you're talking about a very violent act. It's breaking up the baby. It's very violent. You may look benevolent, but it's not.

I do believe that women, because of the capability of bearing children, have to make different decisions than men. Women are the first nurturers of the human race. Their body nourishes the most vulnerable part of our society, and it's important attribute to bring into the world at large, not to strip it away in order to compete.

Ricardo Gelman: Did you remember to pick up those dishes?

Frances: No, I forgot. I have to make sure that I schedule the next pregnancy so that I'm not working on a campaign at all.

Ricardo: Every four years, or every two?

Frances: Or every two years, because that wasn't a good way to spend the beginning. How are you feeling now?

Ricardo: I'm excited, rapidly getting used to the idea. I just think we're very lucky though because at work I see so many products of unplanned pregnancy.

Frances: Of people who aren't ready to be parents.

Ricardo: Lots of 16 year old mothers and child abuse victims. They come to the emergency department, you do some little patch job and you send them back out again. What angers me is that at the same time that people don't want abortions to be legal, they also are very much against birth control.

Frances: I do think that the development of human life is a wonderful, wonderful thing, but I just can't believe that we would say, "Too bad. It's not okay to get an abortion if your economic circumstances simply will not support another child, or if you're somebody whose work is integral to who you are as a person." The only real difference that women make that is really valued is having a kid.

I would be the first one to say that that is one of the most significant things you can contribute to this world, is to reproduce and have another person who will live on after you are gone, but that is not the only way we can have an impact in the world. It's not the only way that men have an impact, and it's not the only way women have an impact. I think it's okay for a woman in college to say, "I want to finish my college education and it's not time for me to have a kid." I think that that is an intelligent decision, but I'm not sure that that's valued in our society.

Speaker: Another bit of history will be made here at the Supreme Court today when the justices hear the case of Webster versus Reproductive Health Services. This case is important because it could overrule the Roe v Wade abortion decision.

Randall Terry: While the Supreme Court was debating whether or not to return the child killing issue back to the States, thousands of pro-lifers across the country were preparing to risk arrest to keep children from being murdered and their mothers from being exploited in their hour of crisis.

Speaker: Mr Terry, isn't it true that this is just a publicity campaign to influence a couple members of the Supreme Court?

Randall: No. Americans have a lot of choices that they're privileged to make. Murder is not one of them. No one has the right to kill an innocent human being. Now, we also have a little girl with us called Baby Choice. This child is 19 weeks gestation, the burn marks on her body are the scars from the salt solution. This is what choice is all about. This is why our people are risking arrest, jail, brutalization. Ask your editors to just show this little girl to the American public.

Speaker: That is a five month fetus, which is far older than most fetuses at abortion.

Randall: I don't know if you have a question or if you--

Speaker: I'm just asking for your comments on this.

Randall: God help us, God forgive us.

Shelley: Does the fact abortion being legal or illegal affect the outcome of women having abortions?

Dr Stephen Ellen: No. Never did and never will. The only thing we've done by making abortion legal in this country in 1973 is make it safe. All the rhetoric that it's killing babies hasn't raised the consciousness of women to stop from having abortions, because that's not really relevant to the woman.

Shelley: What's relevant?

Stephen: Having a pregnancy that's unplanned and unwanted.

Sharon: Did you do some part of your training in an inner city hospital?

Stephen: Yes. We saw what is described as the old days. We did see hundreds of self-induced abortions. We saw people with-- They used to take these tablets of permanganate which burn. They used to throw them in the vagina. You'd open up vagina, see these big holes in the vagina.

Sharon: Oh no.

Stephen: These people would think they could get abortions. You see big round holes with blood coming out of it like a burn. They'd do anything. They were desperate. Yes, I did see things like catheters coming out of cervices. We did take people to the operating room at three o'clock in the morning and do hysterectomies. It happened. A woman who wants to have an abortion, for whatever reason, will have an abortion.

Speaker: The Lord Jesus said you're supposed to receive the kingdom of God like a little child.

Speaker: You don't care about them once they're born, do you?

Speaker: Every time a baby is turned into porridge-- Give me my sign.

Speaker: No way, you have no choice to have this sign.

Speaker: Give me my sign. It's a free country.

Speaker: It's not a free country. It's not free for women to have abortions.

Speaker: That's right. They're taking taking away the abortion.

Speaker: You're taking away our right.

Speaker: They're taking away their children. They're killing the baby.

Speaker: That's our way to have abortion.

Speaker: Give me my sign. Give me my sign.

Speaker: No they're not. We have the right to childcare.

Speaker: The holy God-- I guess you [unintelligible 00:36:22] murder. Give me my sign.

Speaker: We have a right to childcare and daycare. We have a right to free-

Speaker: Our holy God says you should do no murder.

Speaker: -and safe, and legal abortion-

Speaker: [unintelligible 00:36:27] to take their word?

Speaker: -in this country.

Speaker: No way. It's illegal to murder.

Speaker: Women are not going to get pushed back.

Speaker: [unintelligible 00:36:31]

Speaker: No more are we going to get pushed back. No more.

Faye Wattleton: Three Justices of the Supreme Court have indicated their willingness to permit the states to regulate and thereby restrict abortion from the moment of conception on. When did it become a political question as to whether women will make the most fundamental decisions about their privacy and about their personal lives? When did it become a political question as to whether poor people will have the same access to their constitutional rights as do affluent women?

Speaker: The bottom line of the day, have you lost this case?

Faye: The bottom line is that this Supreme Court decision today has once again slapped poor women in the face to say that you do not have constitutional protections if your state sees fit to restrict them, and you do not have the resources to circumvent those restrictions.

[crowd chanting]

Randall: The court has upheld the Webster Preamble which says that human life begins at conception, so this is a wonderful opportunity for us as citizens of United States to intervene on behalf of these children. I think the handwriting is on the wall, folks. Roe is going to go down. There's no question about it. We're going to begin to introduce an avalanche of legislation to protect these children.

Frances: Why don't we start, people? What I'd like to do is have us have a discussion that would prepare us for what we are afraid the court may do.

Speaker: The first question in my mind is whether or not, in worst case, if abortion became illegal, we might consider continuing to provide the service in some way.

Speaker: I think as people, we can certainly commit ourselves to that. I don't think we want to risk an institution in that way.

Speaker: You're really raising a civil disobedience question.

Speaker: That's right.

Speaker: Look at how many of them now. Our opponents are willing to go to jail, pay fines, block clinics. That's civil disobedience. If we really believe in this, then we may have to be open about it. Not back alley, not whisper down the lane, but say, "I will do abortions," or "I know." Then we advertise it, we put it in papers. That's the kind of civil disobedience we're talking about. Then, try to arrest 50,000, 100,000. Try to arrest 20,000 people in Philadelphia. What are you going to do with them? That's the tactic that they're using successfully. How did Atlanta handle? The jails were overburdened. That's the kind of momentum, the movement, that I think that we'd have to--

Speaker: I agree, but--

Speaker: Who's going to be arrested for what, though? Are you going to be arrested for having abortion or performing abortion?

Speaker: That's right. [unintelligible 00:39:26] patients or providers, or both.

Speaker: If we're going to openly do abortions when it's illegal, we're asking women to become abortion rights activist when they're just making a personal, private decision.

Speaker: My guess is that unless we decide to go [unintelligible 00:39:44] we're going to be out of business very shortly.

Speaker: If they totally--

Speaker: After they decide to do it, yes.

Frances: You're right.

Speaker: Hello.

Earl M Baker: Hello. Great, how are you doing? Great.

Speaker: Senator Baker, it's Dr [unintelligible 00:39:56]

Earl: Yes, good to see you again. Who wants to talk first?

Speaker: I think I will start since I'm on this end, Senator Baker. I wanted to present this little model of a 10 to 11-week old pre-born baby to you. Sometimes we don't realize how precious that gift of life is.

Earl: It's an interesting phenomenon to see how the court decision has invigorated all the proponents of each position. Today, I understand a group in the house is going to introduce pro-life legislation. I am a pro-life senator. The bulk of my mail has been pro-choice, just for your information. I'm not going to rule out being influenced by my constituents.

Alberta: I Was here to see you this past summer, and I really enjoyed the conversation. We talked about the exception clauses of rape and incest. We've had situations where women have been raped, and the answer to this is to promote the birth of these children and to heal the women, and to incorporate the children into our society.

Earl: My guess is that the legislature will not vote for [crosstalk]

Alberta: I can really identify with situations where women have been raped.

Earl: I believe in some exceptions to [crosstalk]

Speaker: I understand the pain that is there, but the basic issue is is it just to take a child's life before birth because of whatever? Abortion is about justice. It's not about feelings. It's not even about compassion. It's about justice. Is it just to not include the child before birth into the usness of society that we wish to protect?

Speaker: All they want from you in there is the money, it's blood money, money they'll make from your baby. She's talking to you now to distract you so that you won't hear the truth. They're going to kill your baby in there today. You're taking two people in and you're only going to bring one out.

Shelley: When we have a society that points to women and say, "You are a bad woman. You are a murderer for going into that abortion clinic and killing your baby, what are we telling those women when we say that about who they are as people, and their self-worth, and their dignity as a person? Often there's the argument of people want to adopt those babies. Why don't you stop your killings and make those babies available to women and couples who want them?

Sharon: It's an option. It's an option we raise. It's really hard for me to talk about this issue without being really personal and painfully personal because I am an infertile person. I've had to make other choices for my life and what to do about children because I love children, I've wanted children. To be able to adopt a child was extremely important to me.

I wrestle with the issues probably every day between adoption and abortion. I don't think any young woman in this country or any place else owes it to me as an infertile person to provide me with a child. When I ask my own children what the major question is they would ask if they ever met their birth parents, every one of them in separate conversations said that the thing that they would ask their birth mother in particular is why. What was wrong with me? Why was I given away? Every adoptee that I work with in the counseling room asks that question, why? It just isn't easy. It's not an easy answer.

Have you seen the picture of Martin and Beth when they came to us? Andy was two weeks old and Beth was four weeks old, and Martin was six weeks old. I'll never forget Owen, when they put Andy in his arms in the room. He held that baby. He then went home and called his parents, and said to his parents, "We have a son. He looks exactly like me." He didn't look one bit like him.

For him, that whole-- There was no doubt in my mind, or I don't think in that social worker's mind, that that son was going to be his. When Beth came to us, there was a letter from her birth mother asking us to love her and to take care of her. I was very aware always that there was another set of parents, that there wasn't just one line, and that I owed an unbelievable amount to two other people. They gave me my children. I didn't know how I could ever thank or repay them.

Patty: A finger, please?

Joan: Yes. You got it. Yes, how many times have I called you for your finger? That finger comes in handy for mommy.

I think of my own daughter, Patty, she's a handicapped child, and I think how fortunate I am to have Patty at this time in my life.

Speaker: Could you relate your feelings about Patty to being at the clinic and knowing that women are going in, some who may be afraid of having a mentally retarded child?

Joan: Many times women have actually said that, there's going to be something wrong with this child. Patty herself has said, "Look at me, there's something wrong with me, but I'm still a good person. I'm still within myself. I'm still happy. I'm still glad to be here." Even the people that have great difficulties, if their husbands desert them, if their unwed mothers, if they believe, God will help every single human being in this world. How do you feel, Patty?

Patty: Same. I feel that they God place special people with the right people. He knows what families can take the hardship, would come as a hardship.

Frances: Julia. God, she's really out. I missed you today, bunny.

Speaker: Anything that you've thought of while you were seeing at your desk, [laughs] thinking about her, that you want us to know?

Frances: Why am I doing this now? I guess I'm just surprised how much I miss her.

We'll see you tomorrow morning, around 8:30 or so. Okay, great. Thanks a lot.

Speaker: Feel free to call tomorrow.

Frances: Thanks. Okay, I will.

She's certainly not going to be timid.

Ricardo: Right. I think this is the best of both worlds, two days a week.

Frances: I told her that I thought I'd be ready to go back full time when Julia was between six and nine months old. I thought that waiting a year was too long, even though six months is only two hours, two months rather, away, and it's hard to imagine going back full-time at this point.

Ricardo: It sounds like she would even wait longer if you wanted to.

Frances: Yes, I think she would, but I just feel like professionally that to have an opportunity to do good full-time work and to make a good salary, I can't afford to give that for a long period of time, so I don't know. I just was surprised I missed her so much. I don't know how people do this. I don't know how people go back full-time.

Ricardo: I know. I think we have to play by ear.

Frances: How are you supposed to tell if your kid is going to be psychically deranged?

Alberta: As you already know, I have been keeping in touch. When Dante was two, she got pregnant again. She is still a single mom, but the father's helping her out. She just brought the baby home, and I thought I would bring my son, Josh, to come and see them all.

Come, let's look at the baby.

Izelia: See the baby, Jack. Why are you making that face?

Speaker: He was so tiny.

Alberta: How does it feel to be a mother of three?

Izelia: It's like that having three kids, really is. Just got to do the best you can.

Alberta: I remember when you called and told me that you were pregnant.

Izelia: I didn't want to tell you.

Alberta: I know you didn't want to tell me. Why, did you think I was going to yell at you?

Izelia: Be disappointed.

Alberta: Why would I be disappointed?

Izelia: I don't know.

Alberta: No, of course not. I'll help you out, you know that.

Izelia: By me being so young. Plus I like to work. This is a setback for me.

Alberta: Do you know if you'll be able to get back to school at any point?

Izelia: I haven't gave school a thought, bent on the position I'm in. Right now, finance is what I'm looking at, so I'm going back to work.

The master's up. Come here, Mo.

Alberta: Did you think about abortion this time?

Izelia: No

Alberta: That's good.

Izelia: No, no. Did not recommend that for no one, but it's people's choice.

Alberta: If you can wave a magic wand and say everything will be like the way you'd want it, what would you have?

Izelia: I have Miles sitting on top a hill. [chuckles] Lot's of rain, pretty cut grass and flowers. Just living, trying to get my soul safe for the Lord when He come back.

Speaker: The abortion issue takes center stage in the floor of the house in Harrisburg.

Speaker: The Pennsylvania legislation is among the most restrictive proposed in any state. It would outlaw abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy unless the mother would die or suffer serious and permanent injury. It mandates a 24 hour waiting period, requires that a husband be notified of--

Debbie: Looks like it's going to pass. This will have the greatest chance of protecting the most children and women.

We should maybe get some dinner.

Pat: Sure.

Debbie: How many do we have? We have six, seven, eight, eight plates. We'd make them double. What's eight times two?

Speaker: 8 times 2, 16.

Debbie: Good. That's how many plates we need.

Pat: Father thank you so much for this food. Whatever is the best way to get the majority of these children safe, I pray it would be done, Father, in Jesus' name, Amen.

Debbie: Amen.

Faye: History will remember you. We are now well over 600,000 marchers.



Faye: We join together today for women's equality, for the protection of women's lives. We say to the George Bushes of the world, stop interfering in the lives of women, we can take care of our own affairs.



Sharon: To hear people say, "We'll see in Washington, we'll see in Washington," and then to actually be here today, it feels very different than sitting in the clinic by ourselves or sitting at home alone and wondering about what's going to happen.

[crowd singing]

Sharon: I'm not pro-abortion, I'm pro-choice. I'm for a woman being allowed to make a decision that will govern the rest of her life. I think that choice will prevail, but it's going to be a long, hard fight, just as civil rights was, and just as peace always is.

Speaker: All right, woo.


Joan: Ben's still opposed to my getting arrested. When I mentioned about the rescue, and I said to him, "I really would like to go," he said, "Why are you asking me? Why don't you just tell me that you're going to go, because you're going to go and do it anyway." [laughs]

Speaker: Jesus says, "If a man wishes to come after Me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and follow in My steps."

Speaker: God does not stand apart from violence.

Speaker: People often accuse us of casting stones as we stand here before the clinic doors, but I believe we are justified by the lives that we save.

Speaker: Our purpose in being here, along with trying to save the lives of these babies, is prophetic.

Speaker: My questions is what will it take for the laws to change? What will it take for people to stop and to listen to us?

Speaker: The time is now 9:47 AM. You have 10 minutes to vacate the area, otherwise, you will be arrested.

[crowd singing]

Joan: Do I leave in when the 10 minutes is up, or do I have to--? If I stay past the 10 minutes, will they arrest me?

Speaker: No. When they're going to come for you next, then you can get up, or if you want to go right now that's fine.

Joan: No, I can stay as long as--

Speaker: As soon as they start arresting, just walk on.

Joan: Okay.

[crowd singing]

Joan: I don't want to hurt my husband, I must consider his feelings first. I won't get arrested until he is comfortable with that decision. I'm at peace with myself now, I'm just considering his wishes.

Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us of our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

[pause 00:55:29]

Mona: I kept expecting his response to be, "Well have to go through with it, have to have the child." Then he came back and he said, "No, you have to have an abortion." It's not that's not what I want, it's just that I wasn't ready.

Sharon: I am concerned that you aren't really sure that this is what you want to do.

Mona: It's not that, it's I really can't afford three children. Right now I work as a secretary. I pay for daycare and car insurance, and for rent, and at the end of the month, I have $300 left.

Sharon: It's not a lot of money, is it?

Mona: It's not. There aren't people that help you just pay for things, are there?

Sharon: I wish I could say yes. I would also want you to make sure that this is the right decision for you. We don't want you to have an abortion if you don't want to have an abortion. It's too hard a decision. An abortion's a loss, no matter how you look at it.


Speaker: Major funding for POV has been provided by The John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation to increase public awareness of independent film and video, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and viewers like you. A video cassette of Casting the First Stone is available for home use only for $29.95 plus $3.95 postage and handling. To order your cassette, call 1-800-367-8439.


Speaker: This is PBS.