Tracking Shots: This Week in Film

Jul 13, 2017     Birthright   0 Comment     Reviews


The Village Voice reviews most movies opening in New York. Here are some you may have missed.

Birthright: A War Story
Directed by Civia Tamarkin
Opens July 14, Village East Cinema

For the better part of a half-century, Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision striking down abortion restrictions in the first trimester of pregnancy and limiting them in the second and third, has helped make safe a procedure that previously had been secretive and dangerous. As Birthright demonstrates, though, a burgeoning patchwork of state controls on reproductive care increasingly subjects women and healthcare providers to intrusive questions, forced conversations, and burdensome requirements. Worse, some of the new laws criminalize behavior by pregnant women, whether they’re contemplating abortion or childbirth. The doc is thorough. Abortion foes and pro-choice activists alike tell how such laws got through: decades-long strategies leveraging prenatal imaging advancements and borrowing the language and tactics of human-rights campaigns. The relative flat-footedness of women’s-rights activists, who believed Roe had mostly ended the discussion, left the anti-abortion movement an opening. The film’s real strength, however, is revealed a bit late, in a series of stark portraits of women who have faced prosecution as they sought to take care of themselves. Abortion is likely to remain accessible, safe, and even easy for women with means, but lower-income women of all ethnicities and political persuasions, especially in certain states, already are getting caught up in a draconian atmosphere surrounding reproductive medical care of all kinds. Hospitals test their blood without their permission, police show up at their doctors’ offices, and, in addition to the usual American question of how to pay for their care, they become outlaws in need of lawyers. Daphne Howland

by Daphne Howland

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