Starting today, for the rest of December, ASAP will be featuring some really great posts on books, movies and TV shows that either have an unwanted pregnancy, portrayed an abortion, or sort of avoided it entirely!!  There will also be music videos and other entertaining media that challenged some patriarchal stereotype!

Let’s start with If These Walls Could Talk – a series of short films about the lives of three women from three different times, who unknown to each other have lived in the same house and have needed an abortion.

The 1950s: When Abortion Was Criminal

Claire is a recently widowed nurse, who discovers she is pregnant with her brother-in-law’s child. It’s not a year since her husband has died, and she is sure that his family will not forgive her “transgression”.  So, she seeks an abortion at a time when it was criminalized in the U.S, and terribly hard to get a safe termination. Turned down by a doctor for not having “thought about it”, Claire tries to do it herself. When it fails, she decides to try an unsafe abortion. The episode closes with Claire passed out on her kitchen. Around her is a pool of blood.

The 1970s: When Abortion Became Legal

Barbara is the mother of four children, the oldest of whom is soon starting college. She is trying to finish a Ph.D. that she had to put on hold several times because of her pregnancies. But one morning she discovers she is pregnant again. But luckily for Barbara times have changed in the U.S. – as a wave of liberal politics sweeps across the U.S. as evidenced in her daughter’s clothes, or her own thesis, the government is forced to decriminalize abortion in the country. Barbara’s friend tells her about how relieved she felt after her abortion, and Barbara’s oldest daughter also offers her support. But abortion has not yet shaken off the stigma. Barbara considers it several times, and decides finally to have her baby to avoid regretting her abortion later in her life. Her daughter provides the pro-choice voice, pointing out to her that her husband’s opinion might in fact be oppressing her own.

The 1990s: When Religion Replaced Reason

Political environments have changed again – and at the heart of this change is religion. Pro-lifers have mushroomed around the country holding pictures of fetuses, and condemning abortion providers. They want abortion criminalized once again. Christine is a college student who is sure she does not support abortion. But then one day she finds herself pregnant. The movie highlights the journey of a young girl, who is afraid of losing her friend’s respect, and afraid all at once of finding herself unable to raise a child. She is accosted by pro-lifers and almost does not get her abortion. But when she finally meets Dr. Beth Thompson, she asks her why she does this job. The doctor tells her that she does not want to see the horrors that women had to face when abortion was not available. Unfortunately right after the procedure, Christine watches a pro-lifer kill her doctor.

The makers highlight through their lives the politics of three different times, and trace the history of abortion in the U.S. Yet as you watch the film you are struck by how lonesome the journey is for a woman who seeks a termination of her pregnancy – the angst, the shame and the doubts are for her to grapple with alone. While the movie makes it clear that abortion should always remain legal, it also shows us how much more difficult it is to fight stigma. As our coordinator Dr. Dalvie said, “I also wish at least one of the stories had had a positive ending or shown abortion as the solution not the problem!” Yes, it is true. As political environments turn hostile, abortion stories that highlight the relief that several women feel are a need of the hour.