June 20, 2016


Dawn Porter

The story of reproductive health care providers in the South struggling against controversial new regulations.


About the Documentary

TRAPPED goes to the front lines of the controversial battle currently being waged over so-called TRAP laws — Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers — which reproductive rights advocates believe are designed to restrict access to abortion. Told through the eyes of doctors, clinic owners, and staff in Alabama and Texas who are fighting to keep their facilities open, the film reveals the impact of the hundreds of new laws passed since 2011 that set additional standards and regulations for abortion providers. Compliance often requires costly facility modifications or staffing requirements and has resulted in the closure of many clinics.

Proponents of these laws, most of which have been passed in Southern states, maintain that they are necessary to protect women’s health. Opponents believe that the regulations are unnecessary and designed to limit access to abortion. The current case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, will decide whether these laws are constitutional.

TRAPPED also includes interviews with the legal team arguing before the Supreme Court that TRAP laws are designed to undermine and circumvent the right to choose granted under Roe v. Wade. In Texas, more than half of the clinics open in 2013 have closed; the handful remaining in Alabama are struggling, and only one remains in Mississippi. TRAPPED provides an on-the-ground, up-to-the minute look at the latest battle in America’s ongoing struggle over abortion rights.

The Filmmakers

Dawn Porter

Dawn Porter is an award-winning filmmaker whose 2013 documentary Gideon’s Army won the Sundance Film Festival Editing Award, the Tribeca All Access Creative Promise Award, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy. The film broadcast on HBO and has been used to engage local communities about indigent defense, the U.S. justice system, and socioeconomic influences on crime. Porter’s other films include Spies of Mississippi (Independent Lens, 2014) and Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper (Discovery Channel and OWN, 2015), a documentary chronicling President Obama’s program to help young men and boys of color succeed. During the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, Mashable named Porter to its list of “10 Female Directors to Watch in 2016,” along with Jodie Foster, Angelina Jolie, and Niki Caro. Porter is a Keppler Speaker. Prior to her work as a filmmaker, she was director of standards and practices at ABC News and vice president of standards and practices at A&E.

Full Credits


  • Independent Lens Audience Award

  • Peabody Award

    Best Documentary

  • Sundance Film Festival

    U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for For Social Impact Filmmaking

  • Cleveland International Film Festival

    ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman

Learn more about the documentary

Join the Discussion

Do you think TRAP laws infringe on women's civil rights, or do you believe that they're concerned with women's health?


Connect with the Documentary