The I Had an Abortion Project
"No one who sees this remarkable film will be able to turn away and ignore their experience."—Michael Moore
I was two years old when Roe v. Wade was decided. Nearly my entire life, abortion has been legal but mired in a paralyzing, hostile debate. Frustration with the yelling and the lack of personal stakes in reporting on led me to want to approach it only personally—get right to the women and their stories, their faces and their lives, and get away from their political opinions. Thus, the I Had an Abortion Project is most concerned with creating cultural space for women and men to speak honestly about their lives and their abortion experiences, however complicated they may be.
Why talk about our abortions? Because every major advance in reproductive freedom was preceded by women telling the truth about their lives. Near the turn of the 20th century, Margaret Sanger shed light on the women who were dying early and miserable deaths due to a lack of birth control and near-constant childbearing, ushering in birth control. In the late 1960s, women began speaking out about their illegal abortions, accelerating the movement for abortion rights. Women telling their stories now—when abortion is legal but so stigmatized that it’s never discussed in polite company—places real women at the center of what has become a vicious and abstract debate.
Nearly 1.3 million women get abortions each year in the U.S. alone. For most it is a secret. The debate itself is loud and paralyzing while the voices of the women who get abortions are submerged. "I Had an Abortion," directed by Gillian Aldrich and co-produced by the two of us, documents the stories of 11 women ranging in age from 21 to 85. The film cuts across race, religion, region, class, sexuality, and politics—demonstrating that abortion affects all women. Below is a clip of the film.
"I Had an Abortion"
By Jennifer Baumgardner and Gillian Aldrich
2005, WMM, 55m
"I Had an Abortion" has been screened at hundreds of venues around the world. It has been used for education in churches, clinics, medical schools, and universities. If you're interested in hosting an I Had an Abortion screening or event please email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss fees and availability.
The film can be purchased from Women Make Movies by clicking here.
Praise for I Had An Abortion
"Fresh, moving, important… Muriel Rukeyser wrote, ‘If one woman told the truth about her life, the world would split open.’ [This film] gives us 10 truth-telling women, and splits the world open in as many ways."—Katha Pollitt, The Nation
“A breakthrough in the contemporary discussion about abortion … succeed(s) in showing how differently abortion has been understood — and felt! — in different times. This destabilizes all the other discussions, such as Lake of Fire, which uncritically assume that the current political climate of doom, sorrow and defensiveness is the natural tone for any discussion of [abortion]."—Ann Snitow, Founder and Chair, Network of East-West Women
“Moving, intense, and refreshingly honest, the film is a terrific educational tool.”—Eleanor J. Bader, Zmag
"Provides essential context for examining issues of reproductive justice while serving 'to break the wall of silence' on this subject."—Leela Madhava Rau, Assistant Dean of Student Life; Dir. of Diversity Affairs, University of California-Redlands
“In a very short space of time, I Had an Abortion manages to transform the secrecy and stigma of abortion to a rally cry for speaking up about the commonality and the complexity of abortion decisions.”—Peg Johnston, founder of the Abortion Conversation Project
“Showing I Had an Abortion in my Women’s Studies class led to a great discussion on feminist activism and women's bodies, from general health to specific issues like abortion, rape, abuse, etc., and the value of speaking out in order to create change.”—Stephanie Gilmore, Professor, Dickinson College
“Recommended.”—Educational Media Reviews Online