The Missing Project
by Katie Pearn
With the recent passing of “heartbeat” bills that protect the pre-born in the states of Ohio, Alabama and Georgia, you may have noticed a renewed spark in this debate that had seemed to have gone dormant in the public sphere here in Canada.
Now, when you turn on any news outlet or scroll the social media platform of your choice, you will likely see people on either side of the issue, passionately trying to persuade others to see their side of the debate. Many rhetorical strategies are used in these heated discussions, but it is stories that move us the most. It is stories that make us take pause and consider the implications of these decisions. And it is stories that bring faces and names to an issue that can seem faceless and nameless.
The makers of The Missing Project are giving voice to 50 of these powerful stories to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1969 law, which legalized abortion in Canada. These stories come from Canadians across the country, who have been affected by abortion over the last 50 years. Parliament legalized abortion but few films have shown the impact of this change on Canadians. The stories in The Missing Project include women who’ve chosen abortion, adopted children and activists involved in shaping the law.
“We call the documentary, The Missing Project because so much of the abortion discussion is now missing from the public sphere,” says documentary maker, Ryan Stockert. “We’re told that abortion is a private decision and so no one else should be involved. But as I’ve talked to Canadians across the country, it’s clear the stories of Canadians affected by abortion have to be heard.”
Natalie Sonnen, one of the producers of the film, says the film will tell stories that few others are sharing. “Women tell us they were given incomplete abortion information before choosing abortion; Men grieve lost fatherhood; and of course nearly four million Canadian children’s lives have ended with abortion. This documentary will ensure their stories are no longer missing.”
The stories in this project, which officially launched on Mother’s Day, will be released one at a time until Canada Day, at which point, the second phase of the project will be released: the full-length documentary that chronicles Canada’s history with the issue.
Mike Schouten, another producer, hopes that the 50 stories will add to the growing support for a legal framework surrounding abortion. “Canada is the only democracy in the world with no fetal protection laws. Abortion impacts 100,000 women, children and families every year. This does not serve Canadians well and we will continue to mobilize people to advance protections for the smallest members of the human family.”
He goes on to explain that of one the aims of the project is to help address some of the growing apathy among Christians on the topic of abortion that naturally occurs when something has been legal for a long period of time.
“We wanted to find a way to wake people up, to be able to share stories and to be able to document what’s gone on over the last 50 years and why it’s still incredibly important to stand up against the injustice of abortion,” he says. “I’m very optimistic and somewhat excited about the consequences this is going to have for people who have become a bit apathetic to it.”
When asked how hearing these stories firsthand has impacted himself personally, Schouten reflects, “It’s a very healthy and visceral reminder that this is not just an issue. It’s not just an abstract thing that is happening. We hear once in a while anecdotally from people who have been affected by abortion from all different sides of it, but to see it put together in film and to hear it directly from people themselves as they share their testimony has been pretty powerful.” You can find this collection of stories on The Missing Project channel on YouTube and The Missing Project page on Facebook.