OVID.tv August Documentary Lineup A Timely Look At The Fight For Abortion Rights

June 24, 2022 will forever be etched into our minds as a dark day in American history – the day the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, with their ruling in the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. It shocked the nation, and the rest of the world. But for those within the reproductive rights and justice spaces, they saw this coming. So how did we get here? The history of the fight for and against abortion rights is well documented, and during the month of August, OVID.tv are highlighting 10 documentaries about abortion specifically (among other topics and issues featured over the 4 weeks) for its second annual Doc Month. Every film in August is a documentary, all of which will be exclusively streaming on OVID.

Below we have chosen to highlight five films that cover areas of abortion rights in OVID’s ‘The Right To Choose‘ collection, including abortion storytelling, life before Roe v Wade, the connection with the Religious Right, and more.

The first is a documentary series and an OVID exclusive called ‘With God On Our Side’, streaming Wednesday August 3. Directed by Calvin Skaggs and David Van Taylor, this is a six-hour documentary series treating one of the most important political and cultural stories in contemporary America: the rising power of the Religious Right. This in-depth, non-ideological series traces its roots from the anxious “Christian anti-Communism” of the 1950s to the sophisticated politics of the Christian Coalition of the late 1990s.

With over a hundred interviews with leaders and grassroots activists, ‘With God on Our Side’ captures the spirit of the Religious Right and addresses the persistent questions the movement raises: How does a free society draw the line between Church and State while preserving a place for religious conviction in public life? How do media images of the Religious Right differ from reality? Finally, when politicians and religious activists join forces, who holds the reins?

Image from ‘With God on Our Side’ documentary series.

The third film is a documentary short called ‘When Abortion Was Illegal’, directed by Dorothy Fadiman, streaming Thursday August 4 on OVID. The era of illegal abortion, roughly the period between the turn of the century and the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, has been a sealed chapter in women’s history. 

The profound aura of shame and fear surrounding unwanted pregnancies and abortions before Roe v. Wade kept most women from ever admitting that they had had illegal abortions. Women suffering complications from back alley or self-induced abortions risked arrest if they admitted what they had done, as did their husbands and doctors if they acknowledged compliance and aid.

‘When Abortion Was Illegal’ illuminates this largely undocumented era and reveals the physical, emotional, and legal consequences of having an abortion when it was a criminal act. Now that we are living in a post-Roe America, this short is a timely look back at what it is like to live in a country where abortion is illegal.

When Abortion Was Illegal (1:43) from Dorothy Fadiman on Vimeo.

The third film is is an OVID exclusive and streaming premiere of a documentary film called A Man’s Place’ on Friday August 5. Directed by Coline Grando, in this film men get a chance to speak candidly about the role they play when a partner faces an unplanned pregnancy.  

“I’ve always liked to be in charge. Suddenly, I wasn’t in charge at all.”

The film starts with an empty chair and a simple, monochromatic background. Over the next hour, five men ranging in age from their twenties to fifties sit in the chair and look into the camera—or deliberately away from it. They talk about unexpected pregnancies: how they reacted to learning a partner was pregnant, the complex feelings that arose, and the lasting effects on themselves, their partners, and their relationships.

“Raises the debate on the role of the man in the decision to have an abortion, [and] succeeds in questioning the distribution of parenting responsibilities,” says La Libre Belgique in a review of the film.

A MAN’S PLACE Trailer from Icarus Films on Vimeo.

The fourth film is ‘I Had An Abortion‘, Directed by Gillian Aldrich and Jennifer Baumgardner, streaming Friday August 5. Cutting across age, race, class, and religion, the film unfolds personal narratives with intimate interviews, archival footage, family photos, and home movies. Arranged chronologically, the stories begin with Florence Rice, now 86, telling without regret about her abortion in the 1930s.

Other women speaking out include Marion Banzhaf, who, inspired by both the Miss America protests and the Stonewall rebellion, fundraised on her campus to pay for her abortion, and Robin Ringleka-Kottke, who found herself pregnant as an 18-year-old pro-life Catholic. With heartfelt stories that are never sentimentalized, ‘I Had an Abortion’ personalizes what has become a vicious and abstract debate.

Abortion storytelling has become one of the most powerful ways to push back against stigma and misinformation from the Religious Right and anti-abortion movement. And in an era where we are going to sadly see many pregnant people being impacted by restrictions across America going forward, individuals sharing their stories is a great way to break through the noise.

The final film we want to highlight is ‘Rosita’ Directed by award-winning filmmakers Barbara Attie and Janet Goldwater, which traces a young girl’s journey from an innocent victim to an unwitting victor. This film will see its streaming premiere exclusively on OVID, Friday August 5.

When a nine-year-old Nicaraguan girl becomes pregnant as a result of a rape, her parents — illiterate campesinos working in Costa Rica — seek a legal “therapeutic” abortion to save their only child’s life. Their quest pits them against the governments of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, the medical establishment, and the Catholic Church. When their story gains international media attention, the repercussions ripple across Latin America and Europe.

This film was originally released in 2005, and since then we have seen numerous heartbreaking stories similar to this from across Latin America. As the Green Wave feminist movement is now starting to have an impact on abortion laws (Argentina legalized it in 2020 with Mexico and Colombia seeing their laws impacted by this monumental decision), this film is a timely look at what happens to the most vulnerable among us when abortion is outlawed.

To watch all these films and more during Doc Month in August, head to OVID.tv. OVID is available in the U.S. and Canada. New subscribers can sign-up for a free 7-day trial. Afterwards, subscriptions are just $6.99/month or $69.99 for an annual subscription. 

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