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7 Documentaries About Abortion You Can Watch Right Now

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March 31, 2015

Because Women’s Herstory Month is coming to a close and because I am an URGE Student Journalist, I decided to create a list of documentaries about abortion. Some of these films are available on Netflix while the other films can be found on external sites. I for one, believe in the power of films to change perceptions, create new perspectives, and start dialogues. Here they are:

1. After Tiller (Available on iTunes) 

Directors: Martha Shane and Lana Wilson

This film discusses the life and legacy of Dr. Georgia Tiller.  Before his assassination in 2009 in Wichita, Kansas, he was one of five people in the United States still performing third-trimester abortions. Furthermore, the documentary examines the lives of women who seek third-term abortions. It also focuses on the courageousness of  doctors and staff to continue servicing women who seek third-trimester abortions.

2. No Woman, No Cry (Available on iTunes and Netflix)

Director: Christy Turlington Burns

This film explores maternal mortality and its relation to poverty in the lives of women from different places. The film continually articulates that these troubling instances of maternal mortality are preventable provided that women have access to health care and education, facilities were women feel comfortable, and efficient transportation to attend women’s health facilities. The director’s journey takes her to Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemela, and a prenatal clinic in the United States.

3.The Abortion Diaries (Available on Vimeo)

Director: Penny Lane

In this documentary, 12 women from different backgrounds ranging between the ages of 19 and 54 share their experiences with abortion, sexuality, love, and spirituality.

4. Vessel (Available on Netflix and iTunes)

Director: Diana Whitten

This documentary tells the story of a young doctor named Rebecca Gomperts. After realizing the consequences of anti-abortion law around the world, she took it upon herself to provide abortions on ships in the ocean. The actions she took on became known as Women on Waves. She met obstacles from governmental organizations as well other civil society groups. She was determined to be part of a global movement for reproductive justice.

5. 12th and Delaware (Available on Amazon)

Director: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady

This documentary focuses on two different women’s health facilities that are across the street from one another in Fort Pierce, Florida.  One of the facilities, Woman’s World clinic provides abortion services. The other facility, Pregnancy Care, tries to sway women away from accessing abortion services.

6. When Abortion Was Illegal: Untold Stories (Available on Youtube)

Director: Dorothy Fadiman and Daniel Myers

This story captures an era before the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision. The film consists of the first-hand experiences of women living in a time when seeking abortion care was deemed punishable by law. The stigmatization associated with the choices of these women as well as the possibility for legal repercussions led many to seek alternative measures. The complications associated with self-induced abortions caused infections that would lead to death if untreated.

7. Motherhood By Choice, Not Chance (Available at Archive and Vimeo)

Director: Dorothy Fadiman and Katie Peterson

This documentary looks at the reproductive justice movement in the US in a historical context while looking at ways in which reproductive justice rights are continually being suppressed. The film is composed of crucial moments in a 2 and a half hour series titled,  CHOICE: From the Back Alleys to the Supreme Court & Beyond. The activism of women “who moved abortion from the danger of the back alleys to a safe, legal choice” is evident (Concentric).


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