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3 Documentaries To Understand Abortion In The United States

The annulment of abortion as a constitutional right in the United States has generated indignation and debate. We recommend 3 documentaries that will allow you to understand the nuances of this discussion of abortion in the United States.

Covers of the documentaries 'Reversing Roe' and 'AKA Jane Roe'

Photos: YT-Netflix, YT-FX Networks

LatinAmerican Post | Joshua Radesca

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Leer en español: 3 documentales para entender el conflicto sobre el aborto en Estados Unidos

Abortion is a topic that causes heated debates. At one extreme are those who consider the interruption of a pregnancy as an attack against the fetus, at the opposite point are those who claim that the criminalization of abortion violates the freedom of women to decide about their bodies, their health and their reproductive fate. This last group considers that the decision to interrupt a pregnancy or not should correspond solely to the pregnant person and not to the state.

This debate has had very particular characteristics in the American reality since the last century. Social, racial, economic, gender and religious aspects have been present throughout history when this issue is discussed.

Recently, the United States Supreme Court overturned the 1978 Roe v. Wade ruling, which made access to free, safe, and unaccounted-for abortions a constitutional right.

The annulment of the sentence means that the possibility of interrupting a pregnancy is no longer a right present throughout the nation, but that each state will decide its policies in this regard. Specialists estimate that in at least half of the United States abortion will be illegal.

The decision of the Supreme Court has generated indignation in a wide sector of the North American nation that considers it a setback to take away from women a right that they had possessed for almost 50 years. There are many politicians, artists and figures from various fields who have raised their voices to show their discontent.

If you want to understand the conflict around abortion and the weight that the annulment of Roe vs. Wade, then, in this article we recommend 3 documentaries that deal with the matter from different angles.

“Reversing Roe”

Lawyers Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee would represent a woman who would be identified by the pseudonym Jane Roe when she sued the state of Texas for considering the laws that prohibited her from accessing an abortion to be unconstitutional.

The case, which would become known as Roe vs. Wade, would climb various legal instances until reaching the Supreme Court. The favorable ruling for Jane in 1973 would make abortion legal throughout the United States.

The 2018 documentary "Reversing Roe" reviews the conditions in which women aborted when this procedure was illegal in the country. Then it focuses on recounting the legal and social comings and goings for and against abortion.

In the production, both women who defend abortion and individuals who are against it are interviewed.

“Reversing Roe” delineates the fence of regulations and prohibitions around abortion procedures and the health centers that provided the service. All this with the intention of hindering and limiting access to that constitutional right as much as possible.

The documentary portrays several of the actions of religious groups and political figures focused on restricting the right to abortion over the years and their firm objective of finding a way to annul it. Which, as we already pointed out, would end up materializing this year. This makes “Reversing Roe” have a foreboding air and in turn, offers us a notion of how and why abortion would end up being annulled as a constitutional right.

"Reversing Roe" is available on Netflix.

Also read: "Roe Vs Wade": The Abortion Ban is a Risk to Public Health

“The Janes”

This HBO Max documentary tells us how in the late 1960s a group of ordinary young women decided to create an organization called “Jane” in Chicago. At a time when women were not allowed to access contraceptive treatment if they were not married, could not work while pregnant, and abortions, being illegal, were only practiced mainly by the mafia, this group of young people decided to organize a network that moved in the shadows to support thousands of women, treat unwanted pregnancies and provide free or low-cost abortions that would provide the greatest possible safety in those cases.

In the production, members of “Jane” are interviewed, women who had abortions with this organization, and even agents who worked on the police case.

The documentary shows the reality before Roe vs. Wade and describes the political environment and the struggle for fundamental rights in the 1960s that would lead these women to form a clandestine network.

This title focuses especially on exposing the situation of women in the 1960s on reproductive issues. The production shows the helplessness of these when facing an unwanted pregnancy. “The Janes” manages to portray how the subject of the interruption of pregnancy was taboo, but not for that reason a non-existent problem, since it afflicted thousands of women from different contexts.

“AKA Jane Roe”

Norma McCorvey is the person behind the pseudonym Jane Roe in Roe vs. Wade. For years she was one of the distinguished figures of the woman's right to decide on her body and reproductive destiny. However, in 1995 she would surprise by declaring herself pro-life and joining one of the most intense anti-abortion religious groups in the United States.

What led Norma to make that decision? Shortly before his death, McCorvey decides to answer this question in the most honest and revealing way. "This is my deathbed confession," he says in one of the opening scenes of the documentary.

An interesting aspect of the production is that apart from recounting Norma's life, it also gives us glimpses of the two extremes in which this woman militated. “AKA Jane Roe” is available on Disney Plus.

The vision of these documentaries allows a panning of the issue of abortion in the United States from the last century to the present day. This not only provides a historical perspective, but also invites us to reflect on what the loss of this right means after 5 decades.