Coming to theatres today, Friday, July 14:
BIRTHRIGHT: A WAR STORY
theatrical (July 2017)
A wide-ranging look at the impact on women of restrictive abortion laws, religious hospital mergers, and fetal personhood laws.
Tamarkin’s film offers an expansive historical and contemporary look at how women’s rights have been trampled by anti-abortion forces, who have moved beyond simply picketing clinics to infiltrating legislatures and passing increasingly restrictive laws, shifting somewhat from overturning Roe vs Wade to simply bypassing it. Beyond the TRAP laws that films like TRAPPED and JACKSON have already effectively documented, this project also focuses on the history and consequences of the personhood movement – attempts to assign rights to embryos, often at the cost of maternal health, safety, or choice. The influence of anti-abortion forces on sex education, the availability of contraception, and the access of poor women to health care, are also covered, while another thread includes the conversion of secular medical institutions to Catholic hospitals, subject to religious beliefs rather than medical facts, with women not being offered tubal ligation, contraceptive advice, or any assistance when it involves fetal termination. While clearly taking a pro-choice stance, the film notably includes voices from both sides of the abortion debate, and shares often very affecting personal stories. Unfortunately, in addition to casting its net just a bit too wide, the film is also marred by subpar, uncinematic production values that favor a parade of talking heads and manipulative music, making this more geared to small screens.