New Film ‘The Matter of Life’ Opens in Theaters for Two Days Only

Why not buy a ticket for yourself and one for an abortion advocate among your family or friends?

‘The Matter of Life’ poster
‘The Matter of Life’ poster (photo: © 2022 The Matter of Life)

It was my great privilege this week to watch an advance screening of The Matter of Life. The documentary by self-described “former pro-choice Christian” Tracy Robinson is distributed by Fathom Events and will air in theaters nationwide for only two days: May 16 and 17.

A quick comment on the film itself: I loved it! Watching as a pro-life Catholic, I appreciated the beautiful film footage and the honest explanation of what an unborn child is, what abortion does, and why that matters. As the movie’s website explains, The Matter of Life clarifies the most contentious issue of our day. So I found myself wishing that friends who identify as “pro-choice” and those who embrace abortion activism will see the film.

But I believe they won’t. I’d love to think that Americans who support abortion on demand will stream into the theaters, waving their fists and exclaiming, “I dare you to change my mind!” But my gut reaction is that despite the filmmakers’ best intentions, the movie will attract the choir — those who already oppose abortion and who pray that the infamous Roe v. Wade decision will finally be overturned.

Obviously, The Matter of Life is a pro-life film. It is replete with images of unborn children at various stages of development, and with live footage from both leftist protests and pro-life rallies. But what the film does differently is to return consistently to an important question: What exactly is this?

Sure, sometimes pregnancy is unwelcomed because the mother wants to go to college, or she feels she doesn’t want children (or, if she’s already a mother, she doesn’t want any more children). Sometimes the father is not in the picture. Sometimes there are concerns about the baby itself, in those cases when early indications are that the child will be born with a physical impairment or a grave illness.

But in response to each of these concerns, the film draws the viewer back to the seminal question: Is the developing fetus a human person? And if the answer is yes, if the unborn are one of us, then they are deserving of protection under the law.

Writer and director Tracy Robinson explained how that question, “Is an unborn child one of us?” tugged at her heartstrings and forced her to change her views. Tracy, like so many Americans who demand that women be permitted to decide whether their child lives or dies, had never given the ethics of abortion much thought. Not exactly “pro-abortion,” Tracy described her point of view in her earlier years as “personally pro-life.” In other words, Tracy didn’t want to force her beliefs upon others.

Tracy’s background was in film and video production — specifically, as an editor for documentaries. For several years, she had been producing promotional videos for a pregnancy resource center on the side. But one day in 2016, something changed. Tracy explained that her friends on staff at the Center invited her to a special presentation at a church. The speaker was Alan Schlemon of Stand to Reason, an organization that trains Christians to think more clearly about their faith and to make an even-handed, incisive, yet gracious defense for classical Christianity and classical Christian values in the public square. Schlemon’s topic was “The Case Against Abortion.”

“He gave logically sound arguments,” Tracy said,

... and invited the audience to look at images of abortion aftermath. It struck me. I was convinced of the full humanity of the unborn child and finally understood the truth about abortion.
I was shocked that I had never heard this information until that point. And I knew there were many young adults out there like me who were still in the dark about the abortion issue. And it was in that presentation that I felt a calling to make a documentary that eventually became The Matter of Life.

Your pro-abortion friends I talked about, the ones who are unlikely to decide for themselves that they should spend their time and their money to watch a pro-life film — they are today as confused and uninformed as Tracy Robinson was then.

This is where you come in! Why don’t you buy a ticket for yourself and one for an abortion advocate in your family, or among your coworkers or classmates? Perhaps, like Tracy Robinson, your friend or relative has never really heard and understood the solid arguments in favor of defending life. Your personal challenge, your invitation, could be the impetus that would help to reshape a person’s perspective — and when one mind is changed, that person’s respect for all life will touch other hearts, in his or her family, in the workplace, in the classroom and beyond.

The Matter of Life will show in theaters for only two days, May 16 and 17. I don’t think it’ll be widely distributed; here in my own community, I found only two theaters that will be screening the film. I’m hoping, though, that while abortion supporters may not seek out this documentary on their own, they’ll give in when their pro-life friends challenge them to a movie, then a friendly but serious conversation. Then I’m hoping that they’ll listen earnestly, with an open heart. If they do, I’m pretty hopeful that they’ll change. That may be the best gift you can offer to society and to God for this week.

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

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