POV: On the split | KPBS Public Media

Premieres Monday, April 18, 2022 at 11pm on KPBS TV / On Demand

McAllen, Texas, located at the state’s southern tip within the Rio Grande Valley, is the largest city in Hidalgo County. A true binational city, it’s home to Complete Women’s Health in McAllen – the last abortion clinic on the US/Mexico border. Since there is only one abortion clinic in the entire Rio Grande Valley, if that clinic closed its patients—whether US citizens or non-registered—they would have to travel more than 250 miles to access a full range of reproductive services.

In “On The Divide,” first-time filmmakers Maya Cueva and Leah Galant (recognized 2021 DOC NYC “40 Under 40 Filmmakers”) follow the stories of three Latinos living in McAllen, Texas who, despite their opinions, relate to more Unexpected Places: The Last Abortion Clinic on the US/Mexico Border. As threats to the clinic and their personal safety mount, these three are forced to make decisions they would never have imagined.

POV: Trailer | on the split

During On the Divide, filmmakers Cueva and Galant expertly bring audiences to the rising tensions — and humanity — at the heart of this contentious issue.

Featured participants are Mercedes, a Latina woman in her 30s who was involved in gangs and is now part of the Church’s pro-life movement, embracing support from the Christian Pregnancy Center located next to the clinic.

Courtesy of On The Divide LLC


Denise, a young mother of four, is a volunteer with the Whole Woman’s Health of McAllen and helps direct women to the clinic, providing much-needed relief and assistance.


Courtesy of On The Divide LLC


The entrance to the clinic protects Ray, a Latino security guard in his late 60s and strict in his religious beliefs, but also deeply affected by the plight of the women arriving at the abortion clinic.

Ray, a latin security guard

Courtesy of On The Divide LLC

Ray, a latin security guard

Also featured in the documentary are organizations Melissa and Denny, co-founders of the South Texas Organization for Reproductive Justice, and Yolanda Chapa, founder of the McAllen Pregnancy Center.

The lives of the film’s heroes are intertwined in the clinic, as they grapple with how their devotion affects their role in the struggle for or against reproductive rights. Filmed over the course of seven years, the documentary chronicles this community during the Trump administration’s political climate, and the storytelling is underpinned by an empathetic lens and genuine interest in highlighting reproductive rights as a charged national issue.

Yolanda Chapa, founder of McAllen Pregnancy Center, protests

Courtesy of On The Divide LLC

Yolanda Chapa, founder of McAllen Pregnancy Center, protests

Director’s quotes:

“When we began production on ‘On the Divide’ in 2014, we noticed that many members of the community were frustrated because they felt that the media often misrepresented, ignored, or created ‘pornographic poverty’ from their stories,” said co-director, Maya Koiva. “For this reason, we wanted to make sure that the stories of the film’s heroes drove the film rather than talking about presidents or politicians. We hope the film will show that there is room in the abortion debate to be someone who is a believer and pro-choice, and it is right to decide whether or not to interfere in other people’s decisions and Support that the choice should be legal. Ultimately, it is about bodily autonomy and how the choice is necessary for survival.”

“It was important to me and Maya that we make a film that would reach outside the echo chambers and the dichotomy that often plagues discussions about abortion,” said co-director Leah Gallant. “We follow people who challenge preconceptions of what it means to have a stake in reproductive justice. We focus on those most affected by anti-abortion legislation and often low-income communities of color. We want to leave this question to the masses: What does choice really mean when you don’t have a choice? Many options?”

Cueva and Galant worked closely with the organizers and people from the McAllen area and the Rio Grande Valley to ensure that community representation was central to the storytelling. The diverse women-led team included a local McAllen or Texan crew, such as the film’s co-producer Gisela Zuniga and field producer Omar Casas.

The film made its world premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival. The film won Best Documentary Film at the 2021 New Orleans Film Festival and Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. The film will also be shown at the upcoming 2022 Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London and the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival.

Watch on your schedule:

The film will be available to stream for free in conjunction with its airing until May 18, 2022, on all PBS-branded platforms, including and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV and Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO.


Produced by Fishbowl Films in association with Giving Voice Films, Willa Productions and Latino Public Broadcasting, it is a co-production of POV.

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