Loss. Mother. Illegal. Those were some of the words moving through the Bryd Center for Legislative Studies on Jan. 15 as students and faculty attended “Motherless: A Legacy of Loss,” presented by the WV Free organization.
WV Free is a reproductive justice organization working to help increase education and birth control options in West Virginia. Sponsored by the Appalachian Studies Program and the Student Government Association (SGA), the program featured a documentary and follow up discussion.
Charles Sullivan, a student at Shepherd, declared he attended the presentation because “having an interest in women’s rights, I attended to help aide in representing women’s choices.”
Dr. Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, professor of English and coordinator of the Appalachian Studies Program, thought it heartening to see Shepherd students so thoughtful.
Shurbutt said, “Programs such as this allow our students opportunity to think critically about issues that touch their lives.”
The documentary presented, entitled “Motherless,” opened with a series of emotive black and white photographs showing the faces of young children and their mothers. The film moved into testimonial clips featuring both adult women and men after touching on a brief history of the restriction of reproductive rights in America.
The audience is told personal tales of last memories that these people hold of their mothers and stories of becoming motherless. These were not tales of mothers lost to illnesses or accidents. These were stories of mothers lost to unsafe and illegal abortions.
Tim Leonard, campus relations officer for the SGA, said, “It is relevant because regardless of your stance, you may have or know someone who has faced this difficult choice.”
“Motherless” was produced and directed by Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Diane Pontius. The film can be viewed at www.watchmotherless.org