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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 15th July 2016 > PRO–VIRTUAL LIFE

PRO–VIRTUAL LIFE

Planned Parenthood is hoping that VR can get the world to understand just how bad it has gotten for patients seeking help at its clinics

WHEN PLANNED PARENTHOOD first invited me to see its virtual reality film Across the Line, I thought the focus would be on the many hurdles women face seeking reproductive health care in Mexico. The line in the title could have been the U.S.-Mexico border—Mexico has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world.

But when I don the goggles, I instead find myself inside a clinic in the United States. Off to one side—the view is 360 degrees—is Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, chief medical officer of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, comforting a visibly shaken patient named Christina who, it seems, has just walked through an anti-abortion protest outside. These are real women, not actors, re-enacting the experience of verbal harassment the organization’s employees and patients routinely endure on the way to a clinic’s front door.

Next, we’re in the backseat of a car as Christina’s friend tries to find the entrance to the center. The driver slows as she sees lines of protesters, many with detailed pleas on cardboard signs— the only word I can make out is rape, which is followed by a question mark. When Christina cracks her window to ask for directions to the health care clinic, a man tells her it’s an abortion clinic and then, inching closer to the window, says, “Look, there’s a place that’s very safe down the street.… Let me take you there, please. Please.”

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About Newsweek International

Can Europe Save Itself? - On the morning after the Brexit vote, a dazed Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, a body consisting of the heads of government of the 28 countries in the European Union, was asked to react to the historic vote. Ironically, he quoted Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th-century philosopher whose work influenced the rise of German militarism that led to two world wars - the conflagrations the EU was designed to prevent from happening again. “What doesn’t kill you,” Tusk proclaimed, “makes you stronger.”
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