Films That Celebrate Women’s Reproductive Rights
There are many things that people cannot agree on. It doesn’t matter what century it is, which country we live in, and what are the customs in our cultures. Some things are simply far too complicated for every person to agree on. One of such things is women’s reproductive rights, specifically, abortion. Today in the United States, news platforms report that various state legislators are pushing towards limiting access to abortion in 2021.
In 2019, there were about 300 abortion restrictions introduced in the Supreme Court. In 2021, there are more than 500. Alexis McGill Johnson, the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood, said, “This legislative season is shaping up to be one of the most hostile in recent history for reproductive health and rights. These abortion restrictions are about power and control over our bodies.”
But even with such news reports, it’s still important to note how there are still people out there who are celebrating women’s rights to their own bodies. And many of them are doing so through the creation of films. These are some films within the last few years that talked about the pro-choice movement and women’s reproductive rights.
A woman trying to get an abortion is one of the hardest to talk about with friends and family, much less with a crowd of strangers. And yet, this is exactly what Donna Stern (played by Jenny Slate) does in the 2014 movie, Obvious Child. Donna is a standup comedian and it’s fairly common with people in this line of work to talk about their personal lives — intimate details and all.
As a standup comedian, Donna doesn’t exactly have a stable income. So when she gets pregnant after a one night stand, her biggest problem is how she will be able to pay for the procedure at an abortion clinic. So she finds a way to overcome this issue while also dealing with her disastrous love life and complicated relationship with her mother. What’s great about this film is that it subtly explores a woman’s readiness to become a mother. And she herself still feels like a child in many ways, then she can openly explore other options if an unplanned pregnancy happens.
It’s hard enough to talk about women’s reproductive rights and abortion in some communities. So it’s even harder when a young woman is at the center of it all. And this is what Premature, which premiered in 2019 at Sundance, exactly does. Ayanna (played by Zora Howard) is a 17-year-old budding college student, meets Isaiah (played by Joshua Boone). The movie starts out just like any movie about a summer romance. But, it turns out, it’s so much more nuanced than that, exploring themes in sexual freedom, the Black community, and coming of age.
The abortion aspect of the plot is tied well with the coming-of-age theme of the movie. It shows how young women grapple with growing up, newfound freedom, and making responsible decisions.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Another coming-of-age story, Never Rarely Sometimes Always premiered at Sundance in 2020. Autumn (played by Sidney Flanigan), a 17-year-old young woman goes through a crisis when she finds out that she’s pregnant. She finds solace in her cousin, Skylar (played by Talia Ryder), who goes with her to New York City, where underage women can get an abortion without consent from their parents.
Although this movie is heartbreaking, especially considering the financial troubles that Autumn and Skylar are going through, it highlights one thing: women helping women.
We’re all quite familiar with road trip comedies. But we’ve never seen one about two young women who are going on a road trip so one of them could get an abortion until now. Unpregnant premiered on HBO Max in 2020. The story starts out like the previous movie. Because her home state needed parents’ consent before conducting an abortion, Veronica (played by Haley Lu Richardson) decides to go on a road trip with her best friend, Bailey Butler (played by Barbie Ferreira) to get the procedure done in New Mexico.
The movie explores female friendships as well. Veronica and Bailey had their ups and downs. But, in the end, they realize how much they need each other.
Films are one of the best ways to explore difficult topics such as abortion. But it’s great that the industry has been taking a stab at it. By doing so, they are recognizing the struggles women go through when it comes to their reproductive rights. If more Hollywood films would join this conversation, then it will help more engage more women.
Meta title: Movies for Pro-choice Women
meta desc: Films are among the best ways to address heavy issues that affect most, if not all, people. Fortunately, there are movies that are opening positive conversations about abortion and freedom.