New England Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson, a pro-life Christian, will tackle the subject of abortion in a new documentary that he hopes will inspire dialogue and empathy about the controversial issue.
Watson, 39, is executive producing “Divided Hearts of America,” a film that features interviews with roughly 30 Americans, some of whom support legalized abortion and some of whom do not. The voices featured in the film include influential figures like former Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson and Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“My goal is to unveil the truth about abortion, the laws, the history and where our country is headed,” Watson told The Hollywood Reporter. “I believe in the sanctity of life, be it in the womb or on your deathbed. That’s my conviction. But with the film, I’ll engage those who disagree and hear their reasoning. The number one thing I’m looking for is empathy on both sides.”
“I never thought I’d be involved in a movie, but so many different laws have passed in New York, Alabama, Georgia, it seems this issue — which has always been a part of our national consciousness — has ramped up recently,” Watson remarked. “Things are at a fever pitch.”
The 15-year veteran of the NFL started filming the documentary in May before the NFL season began and is currently tying up the last loose ends before the film’s release. The movie has a less than $1 million budget and is financed by several donors as well as the One More Foundation, the Christian charity Watson and his wife run.
Around the same time he began filming, the African-American father of seven made headlines for calling out actress Alyssa Milano on Twitter over the abortion issue.
Milano’s comment that abortion restrictions hurt “women of color” in particular “reveals ignorance, racism or some combination of both,” Watson told the actress, who is white.
“Our children and families are capable of greatness and lies like this harm our future. Don’t patronize us,” Watson added.
He argued in the interview that views like those held by Milano are not entirely representative of Hollywood but are not publicly aired because actors and filmmakers with pro-life opinions are cowed into silence.
“Dissenting views should be respected and in fact encouraged,” Watson said of his project. “There are many people in Hollywood who would consider themselves pro-life but they feel as though their viewpoint is unacceptable in the industry. No one should feel like their job is in danger because of their convictions on this issue.”
Over the last year, a slew of states have passed strict abortion restrictions including so-called “heartbeat bills,” which would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected around four weeks of pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant. Such bills are designed to spark court challenges that could potentially trigger a re-litigation of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion nationwide.