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3 Things to Know about The Matter of Life, the Powerful New Pro-Life Film about Abortion

3 Things to Know about <em>The Matter of Life</em>, the Powerful New Pro-Life Film about Abortion

Movies that promote the pro-life cause are prevalent, but ones that do so in a compassionate and fair way – and that also stand out with excellent filmmaking – are less common.

Benjamin Watson's Divided Hearts of America (2020) fit that bill. So did the short film 180 (2011), the Erwin Brothers drama October Baby (2011) and the award-winning indie Bella (2006).

We can add the new film The Matter of Life to that list. The Matter of Life examines multiple facets of the abortion issue while tackling a single question: Are the unborn one of us?

Now on home video, the film includes interviews with more than two dozen experts about the philosophy, science and history surrounding the abortion debate in the U.S.

Unless you have followed the issue closely in recent years, you likely have never heard of any of the speakers – a fact that keeps the viewer focused squarely on the issue and makes this one of the best pro-life films ever made. (At about +-90 minutes, it's also concise.)

Here are three things you should know about The Matter of Life:

Photo courtesy: ©The Matter of Life Movie/Fathom

a woman holding a pro-life sign

1. It Was Directed by a Pro-Life Convert

Filmmaker Tracy Robinson, who directed The Matter of Life, considers herself a convert to the pro-life cause. Just six years ago, she was on the fence on the issue of abortion, believing pro-lifers should not enforce their opinions on others, she says.

At the time, she was working as a freelance video editor. One of her clients was a pro-life pregnancy resource center.

"The staff at the pregnancy center invited me to an apologetics conference, and the topic was the case against abortion," she told Crosswalk.

The conference was a turning point in her outlook. There, Alan Shlemon of Stand to Reason ministry delivered what she calls a "clear, concise argument for the full humanity of the unborn child."

"In that moment, I was pretty much convinced" to become pro-life, she said.

She decided to film a documentary based on the conference's core subject.

Photo courtesy: ©The Matter of Life Movie/Fathom

a woman in The Matter of Life

2. It Is Full of Facts, Logic and Compassion

The Matter of Life contains the history of and the facts behind the abortion legalization movement – information that is part of many pro-life films – but it also includes stories from women who were previously faced with the choice to abort. They describe their emotions, their circumstances and the reasons they chose life.

Although the movie's message is pro-life, it is filmed with the pro-choice viewer in mind.

"I didn't want to preach to the choir and hit people over the head with a message," Robinson told Crosswalk. "I wanted to speak to people that were on the fence like I was, that were very not engaged, who never really gave it thought. … I wanted to convey the truth without attacking the so-called opposing side."

The Matter of Life is an apologetics masterpiece, continually bringing the viewer back to the one subject the pro-choice community tries to avoid: What is the unborn? (It features the top pro-life apologists of the day, including Scott Klusendorf and Alan Shlemon, as well as a former abortion doctor.)

Yet woven through the movie's discussion of science and philosophy is a thread of compassion and forgiveness.

"I know there are so many women and men in the audience with abortions in their past," Robinson said.

Such people, she added, should not be "judged and ousted from this conversation."

Photo courtesy: ©The Matter of Life Movie/Fathom

Two women holding up protest signs

3. It Offers Hope

As one speaker in the film says: The church "can't just vote pro-life – we have to be pro-love." In other words, voting for pro-life candidates and policies is essential … but our actions must go further.

About 40 percent of women who have abortions were attending church during the month they became pregnant, Robinson said. Such a statistic, she said, can be blamed on "how uninvolved and how quiet" the American church – particularly, she said, the Protestant church – is on abortion.

Women are "being led by the culture and not by the pulpit," she said.

"This film is a huge opportunity for people to educate their church – maybe they're not comfortable speaking about it from the pulpit," she said.

The film spotlights pro-life pregnancy resource centers (also known as crisis pregnancy centers), which number more than 2,500 nationwide and offer pregnant women free financial and material assistance in addition to counseling.

Such centers, Robinson said, provide hope to women who believe their only option is abortion. The average woman in a crisis pregnancy, Robinson said, does not know about pregnancy resource centers.

"She's been lied to and told that her pregnancy is a huge problem – that it's a blot on her life," she said.

If a pregnant woman is to choose life rather than an abortion, Robinson added, then she "has to be surrounded by support."

"And that's what the church really can do," Robinson said. "... There's really a great opportunity here for Christians to respond to this need."



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Photo courtesy: ©The Matter of Life Movie/Fathom

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.