Critics' Pick

Abortion: Stories Women Tell (NR)

Documentary 92 min. August 12, 2016
By Amy Brady
In 2014, Missouri passed a law that requires women to wait at least 72 hours between an initial doctor's appointment and having an abortion. Today, Missouri is one of the hardest states in the country in which to get the procedure. That's great news for anti-choicers. But for Amie, a 30-year-old single mother profiled in Tracy Droz Tragos' heart-rending HBO documentary Abortion: Stories Women Tell, the law is just another punishing obstacle.

Her story is not uncommon, but it's rare to hear on film. Many pro-choice docs, like the 2013 Emmy Award–winning After Tiller, focus on women who have abortions for reasons some anti-choicers might find sympathetic — their fetuses wouldn't survive birth. But with one exception, this film doesn't go there. It turns instead to patients who've chosen abortion to save their families from additional hardship.

This doc is a tearjerker, but it's also enraging. Taken together, these stories add up to a larger and deeply troubling narrative about what it's like to be a woman living in America today. Systemic sexism, racism, spousal abuse, insufficient health care — society castigates women at every turn, the film argues, and anti-abortion laws further assault women's rights. Still, Abortion: Stories Women Tell won't change many minds. It's too straightforward. But by providing women a platform to tell their personal stories, it fortifies the arguments of those who already agree with it, and it does so with a frankness that cuts through the heart.
Tracy Droz Tragos Tracy Droz Tragos

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