PPGWNI hosts screening of short film “Walla Walla”

Sara Marshall, News Editor

Jan. 22, 2023, would have marked the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling. To commemorate the day, Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and Idaho (PPGWNI) hosted a screening of the short film “Walla Walla” at the Gesa Powerhouse Theatre.

The short film featured two friends on a road trip from Idaho to Walla Walla in search of an out of state abortion. Directed by Hayley Durelle, “Walla Walla” focuses on the relationship between Kayla (Sammy Rat Rios) and Tori (Afomia Hailemeskel). After the screening, PPGWNI arranged a Q&A with Rios, one of the leads in the film.

Rios discussed a range of topics related to reproductive healthcare with an emphasis on destigmatizing abortions as a medical procedure. Rios also discussed circumstances like a person’s financial status or taking time off from work, which can prevent those seeking reproductive health care from receiving treatment.

Philanthropy Specialist Emily Anderson works for PPGWNI and helped organize the event. She wanted the screening to serve as a method of community engagement and as a positive alternative to the pro-life Walk for Life event in town coinciding with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

“We wanted, especially, students to turn up, and we wanted to share education and information about the services [Planned Parenthood] provides,” Anderson said. “We also wanted to do something a little more uplifting for the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.”

Stressing the importance of relationships, Rios asserted that the film was less about the abortion and much more about the friendship between the two leads.

“The purpose of the film was to make a film about, yes, abortions as a topic, but mostly about the friendships and the relationships that we have because that motivates all the decisions that we make,” Rios said. “The plot point of the film is getting an abortion, but the meat of it is how two people relate to each other and are each other’s support.”

Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, very little has changed for Planned Parenthood clinics located in Washington; however, abortion trigger laws in Idaho have resulted in a large-scale revocation of reproductive health care access. Anderson notes how the lack of access has driven people looking for reproductive health care across state lines.

“We have Washington which is a haven state and Idaho which tried to enact some of the strictest abortion bans in the country so we are seeing tons of more patients from Idaho,” Anderson said. “While Oregon is also a haven State, there actually are not a lot of abortion clinics in Eastern Oregon, so we’ve seen more patients from Oregon as well because of where we are located.”

Paul Dillon is the Vice President for Public Affairs at PPGWNI. He believes that the lack of access in Idaho will disproportionately affect those who are already struggling and marginalized within their communities.

“The consequences of [Roe v. Wade] will fall largely on people who already face the greatest barriers to health care due to this country’s legacy of racism and discrimination, including Black, Latino and Indigenous communities, people with low incomes, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants and people living in rural areas,” Dillon said.

According to Dillon, Planned Parenthood has already seen the detrimental consequences caused by the overturning of Roe v. Wade in Idaho.

“In the less than six months since the ban went into effect, Idahoans have already seen the devastating impacts of these laws, including some being denied care following miscarriages by doctors who fear legal retaliation,” Dillon said.

Though the fight for abortion rights is an ongoing battle for Planned Parenthood, Anderson sees a silver lining in the influx of support that has arisen from the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

“The Alito leak made people sit up and pay attention. We saw a deluge of new supporters; we had twice as many first time donors in 2022 than we did in 2021. We hosted rallies, and we hosted marches. It was a big coming together moment, but the fight is far from over,” Anderson said. “Obviously, what we’d like to see is Roe v. Wade codified at the federal level.”

The Walla Walla Planned Parenthood location offers a variety of health care services, including medical abortions. More information can be found on their website.

For students interested in helping Planned Parenthood, Whitman has a Generation Action chapter on campus and Planned Parenthood is always looking for volunteers.