‘The Other Roe’: Abortion Documentary Spotlights Atlanta Attorney Margie Pitts Hames

Producer-director Wendy Eley Jackson interviewing Donia Hames Robinson for The Other Roe.

I am working on a new documentary in production, The Other Roe, that explores the overlooked history of Atlanta swashbuckling attorney Margie Pitts Hames through the eyes of her daughter, Donia Hames Robinson, and me, her best friend. It focuses on Hames’ groundbreaking work on Doe v. Bolton—the lesser-known companion Supreme Court case to Roe v. Wade—that helped legalize abortion in 1973.

Margie Pitts Hames and Ann Rose. (Courtesy of Ann Rose)

After Hames’ death in 1994, I lost touch with her daughter. She went to a prestigious women’s college, moved to California, married, and pursued a diverse career in small business entrepreneurship, wine education and the health and wellness industry. I remained in Atlanta and opened an abortion clinic in Jackson, Miss., tried stand-up comedy, and started the first online abortion clinic directory: Abortion Clinics Online.

Robinson later said she often thought about me: She fondly remembered the time Hames and I took her to celebrate her first menstrual period with a fancy dinner. I had tried to find Robinson over the years but didn’t know her new last name. 

Margie Pitts Hames, Ann Rose and Donia Hames Robinson in the early ’80s. (Courtesy of Ann Rose)

But, during the pandemic, Robinson’s father’s obituary reached me and revealed her new name. Reconnecting after over 25 years, we reminisced about Hames and her political significance. Robinson, a teenager during those times, remembered prominent figures like Andrew Young, Maynard Jackson, Julian Bond and Jimmy Carter attending fundraisers and events at their Buckhead home.

Margie Pitts Hames, Bella Abzug (founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus) and Ann Rose. (Courtesy of Ann Rose)

Aside from these Buckhead events, Hames and I had been embroiled in the political machinations of the day, including attending lobbying events, hanging out at the Georgia Capitol, and testifying at committees. The socializing we did back in the late ‘80s and ‘90s seems impossible today. We fraternized with Republicans and Democrats and generally kept their worst anti-abortion instincts at bay.

Most people are unaware that Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton were both argued on the same day before the Supreme Court and upheld in the 1973 decision that legalized abortion. Roe legalized the right to abortion, while Doe ensured its availability and accessibility.

Ann Rose, Margie Pitts Hames and reproductive rights pioneer Bill Baird at the March for Women’s Lives. (Courtesy of Ann Rose)

After nearly 50 years, both decisions were overturned in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Supreme Court case in June 2022, leading to a fragmented legalization of abortion across the country. Ironically, the Jackson clinic that brought the suit was started by Susan Hill and me in 1995.

I was puzzled that both Hames and the Doe decision did not have a more prominent place in the history of abortion rights. Despite frequent searches, I found few articles and pictures of Hames. It was disheartening to find that such an influential figure held such a negligible online presence.

The idea of a documentary centering Hames arose. Without filmmaking contacts, we conducted Zoom calls during the pandemic with people who knew Hames to gauge interest. We found a compelling story but didn’t know how to proceed.

In early 2023, Robinson reconnected with high school friend Wendy Eley Jackson, a professor of filmmaking at UC Santa Barbara. Director and producer Jackson recognized the significance of Hames’ story and assembled a professional team including producer Elisa Gambino and director of photography and Editor Neal Broffman. Filming began in August 2023, and a three-minute trailer was produced (viewable below and at TheOtherRoeFilm.com).

Significant funding has come from executive producers Robinson and me, the Feminist Majority Foundation (publisher of Ms.) and Dr. Warren Hern—who is especially supportive of this production because he attended the Supreme Court arguments for Roe and Doe in 1972.

So far, the team has interviewed over 25 people, obtained archival footage, and created supporting animation to tell the story. The production team aims to release the entire film by the end of the year, educating the public about this crucial history and restoring the protections of Roe and Doe.

Additional tax-deductible donations to support the project are welcome through the website.

View the three-minute official trailer here:

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Ann Rose is an Atlanta-based abortion rights activist who has worked with abortion clinics since 1975. Currently she is an executive producer of The Other Roe, a documentary film in production about her friend and mentor Margie Pitts Hames. In 1995, she also started the first online abortion clinic directory Abortion Clinics OnLine which is still active today at AbortionClinics.com.