I Had an Abortion
Distributed by Women Make Movies, 462 Broadway, New York, NY 10013; 212-925-0606
Produced by Gillian Aldrich and Jennifer Baumgardner
Directed by Gillian Aldrich
color, 55 min.
College - Adult

Women's Studies
Unborn in the USA: Inside the War on Abortion
Distributed by First Run/Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Stephen Fell and Will Thompson
Directed by Stephen Fell and Will Thompson
color, 110 min.
College - General Adult


Reviewed by Mary Northrup, Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods, Kansas City, Missouri

For a look at both sides of the abortion debate in the United States, these films provide plenty of material for discussion and reflection.

I Had an Abortion features a number of women talking about their decision, as well as their lives and background. Ranging in dates from 1938 to 2003, the time periods that the women had the abortions reflect the historical context, especially of the pre-1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The women represent a variety of different situations: teen, unwed, married, victim of incest, Catholic, Mormon, black, white, Hispanic, and Vietnamese. Gloria Steinem describes her experience; otherwise, the other women filmed are not famous.

Unborn in the USA takes a look at a number of pro-life organizations over the course of one year: interviews with the organizers, scenes of marches and protests, and a lengthy section on how college students are trained to speak with pro-choice people in the Justice for All campus displays. All types of groups, from the Army of God which condones violence to other groups which believe in a gentle approach, are presented.

The production aspects are very good in both. As the women in I Had an Abortion are talking, historic and other film footage is shown to illustrate their stories. Graphics, in plain black and white, appear between each story, with the woman's name and when she had the abortion. The editing between the many scenes is seamless and of high quality in both DVDs. The volume in Unborn in the USA is variable at times, though, becoming very low in sections.

While I Had an Abortion is obviously pro-choice, with all the women expressing feelings of relief and no regrets, Unborn in the USA takes an objective look at the issue, although pro-life groups would probably embrace it.

Together these films offer a look at people with strong opinions on both sides of this controversy. Although supporters of each side could claim one of these as showing their arguments, both could be used to promote discussion. Use of these films would be most appropriate in college courses dealing with this issue. The DVDs could also be added to a public library collection, available for patrons who were interested in this subject. 

Date Entered: 7/26/2007