''Abortion for Survival'' Video review
From: Kirsten Emmott
Subj: new video
"Abortion for Survival: a Powerful Video"
from ProChoice News
The American Fund for the Feminist Majority has released "Abortion for
Survival", a half hour video that dispels many of the myths promulgated by
anti-choice reactionaries and states clearly and concisely the case for
legalized abortion. As the title inidcates, legalized abortion is a matter
of survival-- without it women will have clandestine abortions, and women
This video is factual, technically adept and at times graphic as it
presents what is really an issue of life and death. It opens with a screen
that states" You are about to see a vacuum aspiration performed at six
weeks in real time," and cuts to a young woman undergoing an abortion. In
a voice-over the young women explains that she wanted to be filmed because
of her committment to choice. She is relaxed and talking with the woman
performing the procedure. In the time that elapses during the aboriton, a
number of experts appear on screen in the talking boxes we see on the
nightly news, and frame theis obviously simple procedure in the social
context of abortion in the United States. Entire time, one minute and
The titles run, and the viewer is introduced to Christina Pickles, an
actress who narrates the video as it takes us throught the history of
abortion in the United States, the Roe vs. Wade decision, the rise of the
anti-choice right and finally to the developing world where the effect of
the radical right's success in the United States means death for tens of
thousands of women each year.
The video compares life in a society with legal abortion to life in a
society without it through interviews with doctors who have worked in both
situations, and a moving story of a womean who died in the the 1930's from
an illegal abortion she chose at the depth of depression era poverty.
Offering startling facts and pictures, such as the statistic that by
1979 there were no deaths from abortion in the United States, or that every
three minutes a woman dies somewhere in the world from an illegal abortion,
this video moves and educates. The most graphic moment, repeated for those
who shut their eyes the first time, is footage of what is actually expelled
from the womb in an early abortion with the narration explaining that this
small pool of clotted blood could not be mistaken for a baby. It cannot.
Other startling moments in the video include analysis of the position of
the anti-choice movement, detailing the opposition of major anti-choice
organizations to all forms of birth control except the rhythym method.
The video also suggest that the radical right is responsible for medical
McCarthyism, which has reduced the number of pharmaceutical companies doing
birth control research from thirteen to three since 1970, with only one
company in the whole of the United States still doing research. But it is
the segment which deals with the developing world which is its most
devastating argument. In 1984, the US government withdrew its funding from
any family planning program that provided or counselled abortion. With
international planning agencies dependent on the US for forty per cent of
their funding, this effectively remove abortion, which doctors in the film
state again and again is part of any rational and effective approach to
population and birth control, from clinics in the developing world.
This film examines who gets hit hardest when abortion is illegal-- black
women in Georgia were four times as likely to die from an abortion as white
women before 1973, black teenagers eleven times more likely to die than
Though the video focusses entirely on the US and its role in the world,
it offers much information that is relevant in the Canadian context. It
can be borrowed free of charge from the CARAL office in Toronto. (Canadian
Abortion Rights Action League).