In this episode of the podcast, we are honored to share a Q&A with Erika Cohn filmmaker of Belly of the Beast.
Belly of the Beast is an incredibly powerful film-from their trailer: It is about when a courageous young woman and a radical lawyer discover a pattern of illegal sterilizations in California's women's prisons. They wage a near impossible battle against the department of corrections. With the growing team of investigators inside prison, working with colleagues on the outside, they uncover a series of statewide crimes from inadequate health care to sexual assault, to coercive sterilizations primarily targeting women of color. The shocking legal drama captured over seven years features extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated people demanding attention to a shameful and ongoing legacy of eugenics and reproductive injustice in the United States.
In this conversation with Erika, we want to share more with you to grow our understanding about these injustices, about what has happened and what continues to happen in our carceral system.
We are diving into these themes:
~Honoring the lived experiences of those incarcerated
~Structural racism's impact on the carceral reproductive care
~How eugenics presently operates in the USA
~Consent within coercive environments
~Overcoming obstacles to create change
Find more of Erika's info here at her guest profile!
Watch Belly of the Beast film for additional context and insight
Email email@example.com to get involved
Apply for Involuntary Sterilization Reparations
Maggie, RNC-OB 0:03
Welcome to Your BIRTH Partners, the podcast identifying gaps, acknowledging biases, and co-reating a trauma informed standard of birth care with change agents across the spectrum of birth work. I'm your host Maggie Runyon. I'm a birth nurse, educator and advocate who has been searching since 2010 for the answers to how to provide better care during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Through my own pregnancies and supporting births in home and hospitals around the country. I've seen firsthand many the systemic flaws that exist in perinatal care. Through these conversations, I'm thrilled to share with you insights and inspiration as we work collectively to transform birth care.
In this episode of the podcast, we are honored to share a q&a with EriKa Cohn, filmmaker of belly of the beast. Belly of the Beast is an incredibly powerful film, I will share from their trailer. It is about "when a courageous young woman and a radical lawyer discover a pattern of illegal sterilizations in California's women's prisons, they wage in near impossible battle against the Department of Corrections. With a growing team of investigators inside prison working with colleagues on the outside, they uncover a series of statewide crimes from inadequate health care to sexual assault to coercive sterilizations, primarily targeting women of color. This shocking legal drama captured over seven years features extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated people demanding attention to a shameful and ongoing legacy of eugenics and reproductive injustice in the United States." This is a such a powerful film. And in this conversation with Erika, we want to share more with you to grow our understanding about these injustices about what has happened and what continues to happen in our carceral system. We are diving into themes of consent, eugenics, reproductive injustice, patient autonomy, and the role that each of us can play as we look to right these wrongs, and create a health care system that honors and respects people regardless of their life circumstances on the show.
Well, welcome Erica, I am so excited to be hosting this q&a diving into the belly of the beast. And thank you to the attendees who are here live with us in this q&a. This will be a different kind of format for our podcast as we're going to be kind of reviewing this film and sharing our impressions and taking some of these themes and thinking of how it applies to the care that all of us are involved in in the birth care arena. So I'm really excited to have you, Erika, if you want to just introduce yourself to our audience and share a little bit about yourself and maybe just what kind of a quick synopsis of what drew you to the film.
Erika, Filmmaker 2:47
Laura, thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to have this conversation today. I am a filmmaker who is based all all over between Salt Lake LA and San Francisco. And anywhere that film kind of takes me my pronouns are she her and for those listening in, I'm the director of belly of the beast, also one of the producers and I am a white woman in my 30s with medium length brown hair and wearing a yellow sweater because it's a little bit chilly where I am and I started Belly of the Beast. Wow, over 12 years ago at this point, I was introduced to Attorney Cynthia Chandler who's featured in the film, if you haven't yet seen it, she's one of the protagonists. I met her through a mutual friend and was really inspired by her compassionate release work. She was the first attorney in California to get someone out of prison under compassionate release. And I was also very inspired by her organization Justice Now, which was an organization the only organization at the time potentially, still might be one of the only organizations that had board members who are currently incarcerated, really informing strategy and informing policy from the inside out, as opposed to the outside in which is how so many organizations in the prison kind of reform prison abolition space work. And they had a particular campaign called the let our families have a future campaign, which essentially exposed the multiple ways that prisons destroy the basic fundamental human rights of family, one of the most heinous ways being know the illegal sterilization is primarily targeting women of color. And to me immediately that screamed eugenics. You know, as a Jewish woman, the phrase "never again" was always kind of in the back of my mind. And when I learned about the different ways that prisons are another form of genocide, specifically, you know, through mass incarceration and through these forms of illegal sterilization, I knew that I wanted to get involved some way somehow and initially that was as a volunteer doing legal advocacy work form for justice now Oh, and through that work, I provided direct services for over 150 people inside California's women's prisons. And as a result of that work in collaboration with folks inside, we began a project that would ultimately become belly of the beast. And kind of in the initial inception of this idea, it was really to chronicle the incredible human rights documentation work that was happening peer to peer inside prison, and how that information was being funneled out to this incredible network of underground activists, because of course, the prison didn't want this information getting out. And that kind of shifted when I had a chance to meet our other protagonist, Kelly Dillon, who at the time was doing the incredible gang intervention work and domestic violence prevention work that she does in Los Angeles. And at that moment, she was not interested in telling her personal story of sterilization of having been incarcerated in the world's largest women's prison, CCWF, which you see in the film, but was really interested in being a creative partner kind of behind the scenes. And so we began this collaborative process with her kind of advising how to really bring audiences in to a world behind bars that they wouldn't otherwise have access to so much of the time, we see, you know, imprisonment in very like in a lot of crime shows or when it's over dramatized, or over hyper sexualized in regards to women's prisons. And that collaboration ultimately started changing when Kelly was called in to testify, as you see in the film, on behalf of so many other people who otherwise would be unable to testify. And that was the moment that Kelly and I decided that we would start filming for leading up to her testifying. And ultimately, the more and more we filmed together, it became so abundantly clear that the film really needed to center around her story, being the catalyst to discover any of these reproductive health violations that were going on inside present. And it kind of all really centered around her story and her relationship with Cynthia and exposing these human rights abuses.
Maggie, RNC-OB 7:16
Yes, I mean, such a powerful story. And I absolutely can see how centering Kelly's story, I mean, it is her testimony, the recordings that they share from like, early on, as she's recounting, you know, her experience. I mean, it's a visceral response, watching her share these pieces that have been hidden for so long, brushed under the rug, ignored. And, you know, I think maybe the first question and it was certainly how I felt watching the film, and it was echoed by a couple people who had sent questions in was just kind of this idea of the multifactorial piece of like, why wasn't this a big deal. And even as you're seeing in the film, as his gains a stage, you know, it's coming across the California State Senate, it's gonna get there. We felt like as people who've been involved in, in this pregnancy, reproductive justice space for well over a decade, like we still didn't hear about it in live time back in 2012, or whenever, you know, whenever it was kind of first, like really getting out there. And there's a huge frustration there. And I'm wondering if you want to speak to maybe some of those pieces that you've seen why White still hasn't gotten as much notoriety and support as it should to see more practices change around this?
Unknown Speaker 8:27
Well, it's really interesting, because I experienced this both as a filmmaker and as a legal advocate. And one of the challenges in getting attention in the kind of legal space or in the policy space, very much echoed the challenge and getting funding to make this film. And in the beginning of this, we were told that one, how many people was this actually happening to, and despite the fact that we had hundreds of testimonials from folks inside testimonies weren't legitimate enough. And I think that that is slowly changing, both in the filmmaking space in the policy space in the legal space. I, you know, we all know that if it's happening to one person, it's happening to enough and is absolutely deserving of our time and attention. And we need to listen to people who are directly impacted by these human rights abuses, and follow their lead and how to address them. At the time, there hadn't been the Center for Investigative Reporting's work done on this. And honestly, it was really after that reporting, was released in 2013. Thanks to Corey Johnson. He also see featured in the film. That was really the moment when all of a sudden there was this momentum. For the first time. People were talking about legislative hearings. People were talking about this in a way that hadn't been spoken about before. You know, Cynthia always says when she started this work, When she would talk about eugenics, people would say, are you talking about something dystopic? Like, what is this eugenics word? It's like a relic of the past. And so there was this momentum that was quickly, like, dealt with, let's put it that way after SB 1135, which you see in the film, the bill in California that made sterilizations for the purpose of birth control, quote, illegal, because it was already illegal. And as a result of this bill, while it provided some additional safety for folks inside, what actually ended up happening as folks inside were denied with any reproductive health care, as you see at the end of the film, and there wasn't any justice for survivors. So our next kind of big movement became how to get justice for survivors. And at this point in the process, I think that funders felt like this was dealt with the Center for Investigative Reporting dealt with this a bill was passed, legislators felt like well, there's a bill was passed, what more do you want. And so there was another hurdle to keep this conversation happening in the public eye, and to keep pushing for additional support for survivors justice for survivors. And thanks to the film, this was brought into conversation again, and created the political will for reparations to pass in California for sterilization survivors. And that happened last year. And the application for sterilization survivors actually just opened in January. So for those who are listening, if you are interested in being an ally, to support the process, and helping sterilization survivors access their medical records, or to be able to fill out the application process, I mean, which is very complicated. Or if you're a survivor who's listening to this right now, the Victims Compensation Board has a website where you can fill out the application and of course, you can reach out to us at info@BellyoftheBeastfilm.com for any support, we're a part of the coalition working on making sure that one reparations passed and to that, that folks know how to and have access to the application. So please reach out if you have any questions. But I think that it has been very challenging for California specifically to reckon with our heinous eugenics history. You see in the film that Nazi Germany actually came to California to learn from our eugenics policies. And so it has been any issues surrounding reproductive health is an issue, a challenge and getting attention. But this in particular, brought up so many additional questions. And then is at the intersection of mass incarceration of racial justice of healthcare injustice that I think it was, it was a challenging subject for people to confront.
Maggie, RNC-OB 12:52
Oh, my gosh, yeah. I mean, so many threads to pull from, from what you just shared. So I'm certainly for everyone listening, I will link in the show notes where to reach out for that information it for yourself or for someone else you're looking to support. I had noted that in my notes for this conversation. You know, when I think in modern ish day, you know, we think eugenics, we think of Nazi Germany, particularly, that's kind of like the first example that comes everyone's mind. And watching the film, how they had come to California to, to learn and study their eugenics, like how horrifying, certainly, and then just what a call that is that we need to be more aware and examining our history in the US, which certainly is a conversation we've had over and over on the podcast, particularly in terms of how racialized we have made healthcare and all of the racism driven disparities and inequities within care that we can't, you know, we can't have honest conversations, we can't move forward without acknowledging this. And I think that, you know, certainly the investigative reporting and doing all that I think there was that piece I believe Corey had shared where, you know, he kind of made this this announcement, they kind of he put out the information about it. The absolutely disgusting comments that he received from folks around the country who supported the idea of illegal forced sterilization was It's haunting thinking about how that and that was not again, this is not ancient past, this was less than 10 years ago.
Erika, Filmmaker 14:18
It's interesting. You bring that up, maybe because, you know, someone might be able to say like, Well, that was still a few years ago. Well, in response to the film being released, we received those same comments in response to some of our reviews. And one in particular, Fox actually did an incredible review of of our film, and the comments section in response to that was worse than anything that was actually featured in the film. So it's not a thing of the past. This is, you know, in the past couple of years post racial justice kind of uprising in our country, that this is still you know, something that we need to turn our attention to and acknowledge that eugenics is alive and well, and that we witness, you know, systemic racism and population control. in so many different facets of our country through to enter through so many institutions through policing, through imprisonment through our immigration detention system through who has access to health care, we thought who has access to health care during the pandemic? These are all kind of a part of the the broad themes that I'm really appreciating. How was that you're bringing this up?
Maggie, RNC-OB 15:21
Oh, yeah, I think we, we recently had Dr. Deann Butler on speaking about her work examining structural racism, and how we reach a shared understanding of that, and it's absolutely ties into this whole conversation, you know, none of these things are happening in their own bubble, you know, certainly like the, the carceral system, the criminal legal system, like those are very much tied into all of these different structures from the redlining, health care, all of it is, is tied in together. And, you know, sometimes when we have had conversations on the podcast, we will get commentary from folks who are maybe looking for us to have kind of more like, stay in our lane ish, you know, like, Okay, if we're talking about pregnancy, birth postpartum, that's like, technically our mission statement. That's our thing. But, you know, each of these issues like they all overlap, and certainly, you know, at one point, I had written down a quote from, you know, Kelly, where she was kind of reflecting on her experience. And you know, she's asking, like, you know, didn't happen to me, because I'm black, because I'm a woman, because I'm incarcerated, all three, you know, as she shared this experience, like, we have to think about how all of those pieces of someone's identity, impact every other element of their life. And I think sometimes we still in healthcare, try to paint broad strokes, blush, kind of like, see that if we're, if we're healthcare for here caring for people, that we can pretend that all of these different factors don't play into how they're treated, that they don't play into our own biases. Because we all have biases, we've talked at length about that. But like, each of us has a different feeling about what it means when we think of someone who is in the carceral system, processing through all of that, to think about how that impacts how we think about the choices, they're able to make the autonomy that they have over their bodies and their healthcare like I could go on. But to get back to I think it's so important. I'm so glad that your film brought together so many of those different pieces, because it is not. It's not an isolated issue at all. And like you said, it is something that is horrifyingly Not, not in our past. It's not part of our history. It's just part of our present. And so it has to be something that we take action for, if we don't want this to keep being part of our future, and the way that we reflect on us as a country, as you know, as a people. One of the questions was about the barriers that you ran into when filming, because there are certainly like, such incredible access, seemingly, at least from our point of view, as a viewer into, you know, kind of behind the scenes at prison and speaking to folks who are on the inside. I'm sure that did not happen easily. What were some of the barriers you you kind of came across? And how did you address them?
Unknown Speaker 17:56
Yeah, we actually didn't have access to a lot of these spaces. And so our team chose to really carefully reconstruct advised by folks who had direct live experience or whose stories were telling, you know, kind of agonizing over every little detail, feeling the weight of responsibility, because as we talked about earlier, for so many people, prisons are so far out of our sight, out of our consciousness, far from our physical reach, they're placed in locations that are inaccessible to public transportation are placed in locations where we don't see prisons on a daily basis. And it's very challenging to get to. And so we wanted to use imagery that really evoked memory and passage of time and contrast, confinement and freedom, and really, viscerally place the viewer within these intimate, vulnerable, uncomfortable spaces, you know, what would it feel like to be handcuffed to a gurney being wheeled into a surgical operating room? What would it feel like to be waiting to be seen on an exam room table? Completely naked? The doctor who is going to be seeing you is employed by the prison where your daily existence is threatened by force? What would some of those things feel like? What would it feel like as Kelly describes to be sitting on the toilet or changing your pad with no privacy always, you know, being watched and monitored, policed. And so we actually shot all of these moments as recreations in three different facilities a medical simulation center, an actual working jail, and that allows filming and also dilapidated jail that is used just for filmmaking that we could recreate to be kind of the environment that we really wanted to show. So I think in some ways, challenges surrounding access actually provided us with a lot of freedom to ensure that the visual language really conjured the notion of whether consent is even possible within these coercive environments. And really to evoke an emotional response of what it would feel like to be in these spaces.
Maggie, RNC-OB 20:16
Yeah, so, so powerful, and obviously for formatting is something we haven't experienced, personally. And it's necessary to kind of, to take those lengths to put us there so that we can we can take that piece of it in looking at one of the next questions we had was kind of about that, that piece of consent. And, again, something we've talked about at length, I think you touched on it and kind of your first, your first kind of explanation about, you know, the film, when we think about the way we think about autonomy, personal autonomy, about our choices, how we consent to any sort of health care, you know, if and how that is even, we do a terrible job of really having informed consent outside. So how is it possible to have informed consent inside when there all of these other very visible reminders of how you are not in control of what happens to you? And I think maybe in concert with the fact that then when ACOG had opposition to the bill, their thought was, you know, that this is by banning sterilization? You know, we're taking away reproductive autonomy. And so I think the question was about how do we how do we kind of hold those two things together? Both of people do have the right, yes, to elect for reproductive care that they want, whatever that looks like, but also, in a carceral setting, the ability to really have informed consent. Is that possible? Is it ethical?
Unknown Speaker 21:39
Yeah, absolutely. I think that this is one of the biggest challenges and understanding kind of the legacy of white supremacy and how that exists within our criminal legal system. And through mass incarceration. When you look at who is being locked up, when you look at the length of sentences, you see that prisons themselves function as another form of sterilization, because they are there for preventing a certain population from having the right to have children, destroying families, preventing them the right to be a parent, when you kind of dive into to the legacy, of coercive environments. I mean, there's been legislation passed at a federal and a state level, rendering, you know, decisions like sterilization, within institutions that receive federal funding, essentially illegal. So there is legislation that exists, there are waiting periods that exist in the free world to be able to make decisions so that people don't have the same kind of coercive experiences that existed. But despite that, these instances of forced sterilization still go on. And when we think about reproductive freedom, when we think about bodily autonomy, its access to you know, all, you know, health care, the same kind of choices that we would have in the free world, which are so I think it's important to mention, which are also limited in the free world as well. And it's not to say that, that informed consent exists perfectly in the free world at all. But within these coercive environments, I think what a lot of people don't understand is how, when your daily existence is threatened by force, when you do not have access to information, access to a second opinion, access to different providers, the idea that informed consent is is a fallacy. And I think that that kind of conversation really brings in the kind of reproductive justice component versus the reproductive kind of Rights Framework, which took a long time to get reproductive rights kind of communities on board with the fact that we work further rendering illegal sterilization. Illegal, I say illegal sterilization. So it's already illegal, because people feared it would be preventing someone the ability to have choice, but it's important to know that that choice doesn't exist in those sorts of environments.
Maggie, RNC-OB 24:02
Thank you for clarifying, because I think that is definitely something that clearly then nudged against people who probably think of themselves as advocates for patient autonomy, just recognition that it's not possible in a carceral setting. And so we have to be aware of that, that nuance there. Overall, the care that these folks were receiving outside of sterilization as well like that, that is obviously agreed, horrific, everyone like most of us, at least people listening to this are in agreement that that is not appropriate. But there was also so many elements shared about their experience during standard care, you know, the physician is sitting there eating his lunch as they are laying on a table. You know, there were all of these comments made about you know, folks coming to to receive pelvic care as some sort of substitute for sexual contact like there were so many instances where these folks seeking care coming in because something was wrong. It was trivialized. It was dismissed. It was warped. I mean, it's completely dehumanized at each level. And I'm wondering if you as part of your kind of your other work, maybe outside of the film, how you see that being, you know, addressed? Or what are the things that we take to make overall reproductive care in, inside safer in concurrence with these kinds of laws that say, yes, it's illegal to do certain things.
Erika, Filmmaker 25:31
Like, I think it's also important to note that the sterilization procedures didn't take place at the actual prison. They happened in 23 other different medical facilities across the state, including two teaching hospitals. And so when you look at kind of the layers of approval, and the layers of who is complicit in this, we are all at fault for this happening. And I think it's easy to say that this is healthcare that exists within like the prison walls, but this is also healthcare that exists in our major, you know, healthcare institutions and our teaching hospitals. So one of the things that I think was very illuminating is after the film came out, you know, this has always been made in collaboration, cross collaboration behind prison walls, was that folks inside said, you know, this is spurning a really interesting conversation, the film was on PBS, so that folks inside would have access to the film, PbS is one of the only consistent station that stations that people inside have access to. And they requested a lot of books and resources. And we did a book drive that was very successful around the holidays of 2020. But we found out the majority of the books that they were requesting, or majority of topics that were addressed in certain books were banned. And so you know, access to information access to resources that we have in the free world that we can Google and like literally have a freedom of like wealth of information, or have access to go to the library and get a book or purchase a book does not exist. So one of the one of the ways that we kind of like to we as a film team, and we as a lot of advocates in the space, like to think about this is how do you support folks inside without further, you know, supporting a system? So the way that we'd like to think about it is it's always people first. So if folks inside request information, if folks inside advise us on the steps that we need to take, we are really following that people first approach as opposed to prison expansion, prison reform. Yes.
Maggie, RNC-OB 27:44
Yeah. I wonder, too, if and I don't know how much of your your kind of research this certainly you know, the film focuses on California as somewhat microcosm, but also obviously, very powerful force within this. I'm wondering if you can speak to how prevalent you've seen this across like the US because we know certainly California is not the only place doing this.
Erika, Filmmaker 28:03
Yeah, absolutely. As a part of our research, we sent dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests across the country. And a lot of states responded, a lot of states did not respond. But from that work, and from that research, we know that at least eight states practice the sterilizations in prison. We don't know to what degree we do know that in speaking with other organizations that do direct service work with folks inside prison, that it is happening, but because of the barriers and the layers of secrecy and privacy that these institutions hide behind, it's so incredibly difficult to know what scale it's happening. So it is continuing to happen. And I see like what we saw in 2020, with news of the mass hysterectomy is at the immigration detention center in Georgia, that it is just further affirmation that this is going on in our detention system in our you know, in our carceral systems and needs to have, you know, our continuous attention.
Maggie, RNC-OB 29:04
Yeah, absolutely. I think that that link there as well, in terms of in what areas of our of our health care system? Are we particularly do we turn a blind eye to these injustices? Where are they excused by those in power? You know, and how can we be more aware of where that's happening? Certainly, because like so this is something that is happening all around our country. I think one of the things that was so powerful to certainly in the beginning of the film, when Kelly was first discovering what had been done to her how little access she had How is still I think it still took her six or nine months to get her actual medical records. Even when she was having issues. She was having symptoms there was clearly she knew her body and there was something wrong with it and how hard it was still for her to get access and then to also understand the records and the information that was present. And I imagine that that is an issue that is across the country as well where it is challenging to even understand for these folks who've had, who have had procedures done, what happened to get that information to translate that, is there a way that we can create better access to that information? Is that something that it's asked for? as well? It wasn't that a jumped out to one of one of their viewers just wondering like, is that something that for those of us who are healthcare workers who have experience in this kind of perinatal reproductive health space? Is that something that we can like, lend time and talents to understanding some of these procedures and helping to kind of bridge that gap? Perhaps there?
Erika, Filmmaker 30:32
Yeah, it's a really good question. Thank you to that person who submitted that question. One of the challenges, it's, it is illegal right to have access to your medical records. Folks inside have incredible difficulties in accessing their medical records, as well as us advocates in the free world who are requesting records on behalf of someone. It wasn't until Cynthia Chandler was able to request Kelly's medical records, which took months and months and months, then to be able to sit down and try and interpret them with her. I remember one particular instance where it took me two years to get someone's medical records, because every time I requested them, I was sent different dates, or blank pages, or I was told that those records didn't exist. And finally, after never taking any of those answers, I was able to get those medical records, but was said, you know, probably four or 500 different pages that I had to sort through medical terminology, I don't work in the medical space. I don't understand shorthand. It's hard to read coding, it's hard to even read handwriting to be able to interpret those and then be able to sit down with someone inside and explain those records to them, as you saw Cynthia do in the in the film. I mean, it's unbelievable. The barriers that that one can experience. And that is like an actual legal right. So I think that more attention, more exposure, more conversation around that is helpful in terms of what people can do to help right now. I think it's really essential in this reparations process, that medical professionals who have the ability to donate time to volunteer to help folks apply for compensation for reparations could potentially volunteer and help people access their medical records and interpret them and fill out the fill out the application because that is an important part of being able to apply. There is another kind of aspect of the reparations bill that was tasked that requires the state to notify folks who have been sterilized, okay, that process is just getting off the ground and running. But as you can imagine, there are many people who still to this day don't know that they were sterilized either they went in for other abdominal surgeries and experienced a variety of symptoms like Kelly did, or they did not consent to a tubal ligation or didn't know they were consenting to a tubal ligation in the middle of labor and delivery and still to this day don't know that they were sterilized.
Maggie, RNC-OB 33:03
Yeah. Yeah, I think the I mean, so many layers of I mean, deceit. And it's really you shared in that film how, you know, Kelly explicitly asked after her procedure, like, okay, everything was fine, I'll still be able to have kids because it was very, very important to her and she was completely point blank, blatant lying. Oh, yeah. I don't see any reason why not. When clearly, Upon removal of her uterus, he knew that that was something she wouldn't be able to do. Like, there are just so many aspects of it, that are just inconscioubly cruel and important for us to know how we can kind of take steps forward to assist folks in getting down to the truth of what and what's been done with to their bodies. I know we've we've been, this is a heavy conversation. So thank you for diving into all this with us. Erica, is there the positive feedback and change that you've seen since the film that you can you share with us?
Erika, Filmmaker 33:58
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the film, so those, hopefully, you'll be able to see it in the next couple of days, if you haven't yet had a chance to see it. The film is, is also accessible on all platforms, Amazon, iTunes, Apple TV, wherever you typically rent a film, it is accessible. What came out of the film was was always an impactful of ours, which was to ensure that there was justice for survivors that reparations passed, and that we believe, as a filmmaking team and our impact team and our coalition of folks who have worked very hard to get this passed that this will provide really a catalyst for other states to provide reparations, and not just for sterilization survivors, for other you know, for reparations for those who were enslaved, who's who are indigenous people for the Japanese internment camps, etc, etc, that this will be kind of a ripple effect. So that is something that's been very important to us. We've seen a lot of amazing change like this. A lot of discussions being spurred and other locations and a lot of kind of local activism being encouraged as a result of, of this film. So we see a lot of a lot of change happening. And I think that one of the important takeaways for me in making this film and also I hope that other people who are inspired to create change and watching this film can take away from is that if a small activist group was able to go up against the Department of Corrections, it's very much this David and Goliath story, that I believe that we all can make change. And I encourage everyone who's listening to this to find one small way to challenge white supremacy in your community. And I hope that this film provides a bit of inspiration to do that.
Maggie, RNC-OB 35:49
Well, absolutely, yeah. It's so powerful. And I this whole season, you know, we've been focused on change agents, and how do we step forward? And particularly how do we take those changes that we have made in our personal practice and bring them into a bigger onto a bigger stage within our community as we address these systemic layers of injustice? And absolutely, you and and your team, Kelly and Cynthia, and you know, everyone justice now, like, certainly you all are doing that, on an incredible level and showcasing how it is possible, to take this passion and advocacy, and be triumphant and show up against these systems that are so powerful, and can seem so daunting and overwhelming, but that there is it is possible to create change. And you know, using these, these conversations we have that absolutely are really they're hard to hear. I mean, it's hard to watch the film, it is it is hard to understand in our mind, that all these things are happening now in our country like that is it is easy to live in cognitive dissonance, it is easy to try to turn not pay attention to it, and to look the other way. And so I appreciate you all like shedding a light on it and making it easier for us to access this information and to you know, connect with folks on the inside, who we might not have the chance to understand their experience and to see to see what's going on. I want to make sure we've opened it up if there's any other questions for anyone here on the call, who didn't have a chance yet to
Erika, Filmmaker 37:15
wait. And just notice that someone put in the chat that sometimes folks are told that it's a fee per page. And that folks inside are not given the significant pages? That is absolutely correct. It has happened in numerous instances that I'm aware of. And that to be able to have access to your medical records to have to pay for those per page is just an additional barrier, as we've talked about and pretty horrific. And then in requesting records multiple times or given wrong dates, it's still a fee per page. So thanks for bringing that up. Barbara.
Maggie, RNC-OB 37:46
Erica, is there anything else you want to share with our audience highlight and how they can next steps for them. Just get
Erika, Filmmaker 37:55
in touch at info@BellyoftheBeastfilm.com. And we can connect to with the appropriate parties. If you're interested in volunteering to help support survivors in applying for reparation.
Maggie, RNC-OB 38:07
Thank you so much, Erica, it just such a pleasure getting to dive into this with you and to think about how we can use this awareness and take action and create change. So I appreciate you and all of your advocacy and the work you do in
Erika, Filmmaker 38:20
this space. Thank you so much for having me. What a pleasure to have this conversation. I hope we continue to do absolutely.
Maggie, RNC-OB 38:30
Well, I am just so grateful for the opportunity to dive into this really necessary conversation as we think about consent as we think about taking care of those who are most marginalized within our society. As you know, we learn and unlearn our biases around carceral settings and how we show up and support people no matter where they are in life as they navigate their reproductive journey. So I welcome you to share your feedback with us in the your birth partners community group on Facebook. We would love to see you in there and I am sending you support as we all look to move this awareness into action and create change that reverberates. till next time