Debate teams representing the 300 students at Patrick Henry College have won the Moot Court national debate crown twice in the school’s eight-year existence, and they’ve defeated debating bastion Oxford twice, including once in England using UK laws, but now they’re reaching higher.
They are hoping that real life will imitate their art.
Combining with Advent Film Group, the Virginia evangelical school’s debaters are featured in a new film presenting arguments that one day could be used to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that found a right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution.
“Come What May,” which already has been shown to packed houses in Grants Pass, Ore., and Harrisonburg, Va., is expected to be available for screening online later this month.
In the movie, Caleb, a Christian student attending Patrick Henry, is caught in a moral tug-of-war as he challenges Roe v. Wade at the National Moot Court Championship. At the same time, the character’s mother, a feminist attorney, argues the case at the U.S. Supreme Court, but on the opposing side.
The microbudget project – essentially created with a volunteer team of students advised by a handful of movie professionals – already has had half a dozen offers for distribution, according to George Escobar of Advent Film Group.
He told WND the plans are for the movie to be streamed online on GodTube later this month, but exact details still are being worked out.
“Our intention is that people see the compelling arguments for overturning Roe v. Wade if there are the right Supreme Court justices on the bench,” he said.
In the Roe v. Wade opinion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun hinted the decision eventually could be overturned, leaving abortion laws up to individual states.
He concluded that if the “personhood” of the preborn could be established, “the case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life is then guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”
The advances in scientific and medical knowledge over the past four decades have created huge conflicts over the issue of the beginning of life. Voters in Colorado will decide Nov. 4 on a ballot initiative that would recognize the unborn as a person – given the same constitutional protections as anyone else – from the moment of conception.
Harrisonburg Valley Family Forum director Dean Welty believes the time for the issue to be given to American citizens is now.
“This movie tells how Roe v. Wade can be reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said. “Moviegoers [at a screening] were excited or agitated on both sides, because the movie shows in dramatic fashion just how flimsy the legal footing stands for Roe.
“New Justice appointees who believe in constitutional original intent will likely overturn Roe,” he said.
Since the next president is expected to appoint at least a few new justices during the coming term, the tipping point for many of the previous 5-4 decisions that have upheld abortions could be approaching.
Welty noted it’s possible a handful of voters in each precinct across the nation could make the choice between GOP candidate Sen. John McCain, who has a long record of largely pro-life votes, and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who has advocated for abortions beyond even the demands of the National Abortion Rights Action League.
“If this new movie gets widely known, and it could break out because it’s very controversial, then watch out,” Welty said.
Escobar has worked in the American Film Institute and in Hollywood as a freelance story analyst. He was assistant to the director on several television shows and vice president of product technologies for Tele-TV, which then was headed by Howard Stringer, now CEO of Sony.
The founder of Advent Film Group in 2007, he confirmed distributors already are bidding for the rights to distribute the movie.
“We know that Christians love ‘Come What May,’” said Escobar. “What surprised us were the secular, pro-choice audiences, some of whom have told us that ‘Come What May’ is causing them to reconsider their position.”
He cited the huge impact of recent low-budget movies, “Facing the Giants,” and “Fireproof,” as a sea change in the movie industry.
“Giants,” about a high school football team, was made by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga., on a budget of $100,000. It earned $10 million in box office sales and – so far – has sold more than a million DVDs.
“Our mission is to change culture for Christ through media,” said Escobar. “We are drawing from the outstanding talent and strength of the homeschooling community.
“If homeschoolers can turn the public education monopoly upside down, they can do the same for cinema,” he said.
Statistics indicate homeschooling is growing at a rate many times the rate of growth for schools nationwide, and there now are estimates of more than 2 million students who are homeschooled.
Endorsing the project were Michael Farris, founder and chancellor of Patrick Henry College, the nation’s only Christian liberal arts college established to serve homeschooled students; Graham Walker, president of the college; and Michael Smith, president of the Home School Legal Defense Association.
The project, in which students also received on-the-job training in the film industry, already has been honored. It was given a Redemptive Storyteller Award for 2008 from the Redemptive Film Festival.
Kurt Ramspott, founder of the pro-life group Guys-For-Life, said the film “could be a tipping point in this dramatic battle of Good vs. Evil in our lifetime.”
“It is a ‘must see’ that will spur you onto action,” he said.