The Top 10 Best Films About Abortion And Reproductive Freedom – Forbes

With abortion rights and reproductive healthcare being criminalized nationwide, there are increasing headlines detailing the plight of children forced to carry rapists’ fetuses to term, and women and other pregnant people facing possible death or severe injury from forced births. It’s a good time for a conversations about how cinema treats these topics, and a list of the top 10 best films about abortion and reproductive freedom.
Official poster for “The Janes”
There is an important, imminent need for pop culture and entertainment to significantly raise visibility for the issue of abortion rights — and broader reproductive health and freedom, since the push for forced births is expanding into attempts to criminalize or severely restrict access to contraception as well. Indeed, we’ve got disingenuous productions like The Business of Birth Control undermining legitimate reproductive health options with pseudo-science, exaggerations, and falsehoods, while promoting dubious or less effective methods and/or products (some makers of which helped fund and promote The Business of Birth Control). Amy Zimmerman provided an excellent exposé of that movie at Rolling Stone, which I recommend reading here.
The point being, in this dangerous climate it’s imperative to direct viewers to better, legitimate sources of information on these important issues. Luckily, there are many good, honest films about abortion rights and reproductive freedom to add to your viewing list.
It’s unfortunate that, with so many remarkable films to choose from, Hollywood has told far too few stories about the experiences of people of color — specifically Black women, whose experiences are largely erased, or are depicted within patronizing or outright anti-abortion messaging. So this list includes several (at least half) stories about Black women, Indian women, and other women of color, and most of the films are directed and/or written by women.
At times I discuss certain films by referring to their relevance and depictions of “women” because those films themselves are specifically depicting themes about women and society’s views toward women in particular. Black women, for example, are so consistently targeted for harassment, oppression, exclusion, and erasure that it needs to be recognized and talked about, including within the parameters of the larger issues of abortion and reproductive health care.
Black women are a disproportionate segment of those who seek abortions, they suffer much worse medical outcomes due to biases and discrimination in health care, and pregnancy is particularly dangerous and potentially lethal to Black women precisely due to these inequalities in our society and hospitals. I urge you to read Kathleen Newman-Bremang’s tremendous analysis of the ways in which film and TV do and don’t portray these experiences and realities of Black women.
Mostly, though, I try to use broader inclusive language that doesn’t exclude transgender or gender nonconforming people who can also get pregnant. It’s possible to talk about these issues and to recognize the overarching targeting of women and women’s rights in the attacks on abortion and reproductive freedom, while also recognizing society’s bigotries and persecution are intersectional in ways that apply the attacks on abortion and reproductive freedom to others as well. Attacks on women include attacks on trans women, and people seeking abortions include trans men and other nonbinary people. The hate, prejudice, and oppression pile up and create ever more interconnected levels of discrimination, so we need to remember and make sure our discussions reflect it.
I recognize that, as a cisgender white man in the United States, I’m not the ideal voice to select and discuss films about these matters. On the other hand, it’s imperative that people like me in positions like mine use our voices and our space to highlight these issues and add our voices to the calls for protecting abortion rights and reproductive health care. So I offer my views and picks here in that spirit, and with full recognition I no doubt still miss plenty of subtext, meaning, and important storytelling in plenty of other films I’ve failed to see, or saw but didn’t fully appreciate on the level someone else might who has lived or could live those experiences.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, I think it’s a good collection offering a variety of perspectives and experiences within historical and modern contexts, and confronting some of the difficult complicating factors that can arise. And some of the films offer the simple fact that for many women and others who get pregnant, abortion itself isn’t a difficult choice or traumatic at all — it’s the obstacles, harassment, and oppression society puts in their path that create any pain and struggle for them.
So now, without further ado, here in no particular order are my picks for the top 10 best movies to watch about abortion rights and reproductive freedom. Some will make you laugh, some will make you cry, and hopefully all of them will not only provide you with a great viewing experience, but will also make you mindful of the importance in protecting and guaranteeing reproductive freedom and abortion rights.

There you have it, dear readers, the 10 best films for an abortion-rights and reproductive freedom viewing marathon.
Here four honorable mentions to add to your viewing — Vera Drake (2004), Little Woods (2018), Unpregnant (2020), and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). And if you can find a copy of Las Libres: the Story Continues, let me know because I really need to see it but it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere anymore.
I hope you’ll find some films here that you haven’t seen yet and give them a try, and hopefully they provide you with additional outlooks and understanding of the issues and people involved in the ongoing fight for abortion rights and reproductive freedom.


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