Audrey Diwan’s 1960s-set drama Happening is the latest in a wave of films on an issue that is increasingly topical
Fri 22 Apr 2022
When Audrey Diwan first started writing a script about abortion, people would ask her why. Adapting Annie Ernaux’s memoir about the author’s struggle to obtain an illegal abortion as a student in 1960s France, Diwan knew the story was important, but it was difficult to persuade others of its relevance. Fast forward a few years, and no one is asking why. When Happening premiered at the Venice film festival last year, critics were quick to draw connections between the plight of Anne (the character in the film) and the tightening of abortion restrictions around the world. As it lands in UK cinemas this week, this period piece feels timelier than ever.
Alison Leiby has an hourlong set looking at the experience of an unwanted pregnancy. She’s among a spate of female artists finding humor in the issue.
By Jason Zinoman
Sept. 24, 2021
A stand-up show about abortion sounds like a bad idea. The comic Alison Leiby knows that. Just look at her title: “Oh God, an Hour About Abortion.”
Leiby doesn’t just anticipate your expectations. She subverts them. As states like Texas pass laws dramatically restricting abortion rights, and the Supreme Court prepares to hear a case in December that could overturn Roe v. Wade, her deftly funny, jarringly understated show doesn’t respond to the news so much as clarify it.
From buddy comedies to dramas, movies focused on abortion barriers tell a story that shouldn’t need to be told
By KYLIE CHEUNG
PUBLISHED JUNE 6, 2021
Last week, Hulu's "Plan B" became the latest movie to focus on the complex, stigmatizing and sexist barriers to reproductive care, which are especially difficult for young people. In Natalie Morales' directorial debut, two South Dakota high school students, Sunny (Kuhoo Verma) and Lupe (Victoria Morales) have 24 hours to find emergency contraception after Sunny's first sexual encounter. The problem is, the only pharmacist in their small hometown denies Sunny access to the pill citing the "conscience clause."
To be clear, emergency contraception is entirely different from abortion care, preventing rather than ending a pregnancy that's already underway. But other than that important distinction, "Plan B" continues a growing trend of movies in which seeking abortion or other reproductive care through tremendous cost, geographical and legislative barriers isn't just a subplot — it's the main storyline.
December 29, 2020
Herold and Gretchen Sisson
According to decades of research, abortion is an incredibly common and safe
But if you learned about abortion only from movies and TV, that’s not the story
you’d see. For the last eight years, we’ve been studying onscreen depictions of
abortion. We’ve found that Hollywood tends to dramatically exaggerate the
medical risks associated with abortion while downplaying real barriers to
Aside from a few exceptions, 2020’s onscreen content continued to reflect
patterns we’d identified in previous years.
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.
And we need them more than ever.
By Jenny Singer
September 10, 2020
There’s a moment in Unpregnant, a buddy comedy movie about abortion now streaming on HBO Max, that is so magical, so dead on in its rendering of the fearful joy of being alive that it will stay with you far longer than any headline spelling the doom of legal abortion.
Two teenage girls—played by Barbie Ferreira and Haley Lu Richardson—are hundreds of miles from home, literally upside down on a whirling fairground ride on a spring night in Texas, shouting truths to each other.
By JAMI GANZ, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
SEP 08, 2020
This isn’t the kind of buddy road trip you’d expect to be played for laughs.
In the dramedy “Unpregnant” — hitting HBO Max Thursday and based on last year’s novel of the same name by Jenni Hendriks and Ted Caplan — Haley Lu Richardson stars as overachieving Missouri teen Veronica, who will do anything to get an abortion.
By Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz
Aug 12, 2020
In an interminably looooong list of bummer abortion movies — with some great exceptions like Obvious Child, Saint Frances, and Grandma — it’s still not all that often that a terminated pregnancy is anything other than the dark center of an upsetting story line. So, when a movie that depicts abortion as not only essential but ordinary — perhaps even comedic — I breathe a sigh of relief.
Needless to say I am thrilled about HBO Max’s Unpregnant, which is one part road-movie, one-part buddy comedy, where the protagonist needs to terminate her pregnancy (but that fact is a part of the broader story arc of her character and not just her One Thing.)