KAYLA KUMARI UPADHYAYA
OCTOBER 20, 2020
Conversations about abortion have been playing out on the big screen since decades before Roe V. Wade legalized them in the United States in 1973. One of the first known movies that deals with the topic is a 1916 film called Where Are My Children? Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the early year, it was a negative portrayal of abortion.
In recent years, however, depictions of abortion in movies have become more common and somewhat more realistic. In 2020 alone, there have been nine films that depict a character obtaining an abortion, double the number of 2019, according to Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH)’s Abortion Onscreen Database. Only two of these movies showed an adverse physical outcome as a result of an abortion, and none portray an adverse psychological outcome. Two are comedies.
Hollywood rarely tells the truth about abortion. ‘Little Woods’ is different.
By Renee Bracey Sherman
April 23, 2019
Pop culture has made some progress since 1956, when an addition to the Motion Picture Production Code that governed Hollywood movie-making declared, “The subject of abortion shall be discouraged, shall never be more than suggested, and, when referred to, shall be condemned.” But even by contemporary standards, in which characters are allowed to have abortions and movies can depict those decisions positively, Nia DaCosta’s debut feature film, “Little Woods,” is a politically urgent revelation.
Rather than making the decision to have an abortion the major source of tension in the film, DaCosta starkly depicts the sacrifices that families make to afford health care, dramatizing the recent onslaught of restrictions on abortion. And her character’s choices place abortion in conversation with our national debate about opioid addiction and drug trafficking to illuminate these well-worn subjects in new ways.