An honest look at abortion

By By Caitlin Palmer, Jennifer Meinig and Rachel Huff

The West Virginia International Film Festival is featuring a film that offers a refreshingly real glimpse into women’s sexuality and the deeply personal and complex topic of abortion.

The film is an exciting change from the regular blockbuster movie and is a major turning point in how the entertainment industry portrays women’s sexuality, pregnancy and abortion.

Obvious Child is a hilarious romantic comedy that tells the honest story of Donna Stern, played by actor and comedian Jenny Slate, who deals with real-life issues like a failed relationship, losing her job, and becoming pregnant. She has an abortion at a Planned Parenthood health center. Stern talks with family, friends, and even her one-night stand about her decision. She is unapologetic and the film captures Donna’s decision without stigma and without judgment.

Hollywood films rarely depict a character like Donna Stern, even though millions of women from across the country will identify with her story.

Despite the fact that abortion is one of the most common and safest medical procedures in the country, honest portrayals of abortion are extremely rare in the entertainment industry.

When film or television does show a woman’s decision to have an abortion, there is often shame and stigma attached to her decision.

The lack of honest portrayals of abortion is part of a much larger problem regarding the lack of honest depictions of women’s lives, sexuality, and health.

That’s why Obvious Child is so important — not only for showing a woman’s decision to have an abortion, but because it shows her as a full and complete person, making a deeply personal and serious decision to end her pregnancy, while still having a full life. While she does not take her decision lightly, she isn’t ashamed or traumatized by her decision.

In reality, millions of women face unplanned pregnancy each year and many feel alone and have questions. Planned Parenthood Health Systems, Inc., WV FREE, and the ACLU of West Virginia believe that it is important that all women have access to non-judgmental information about all the options that are available — including safe and legal abortion. A woman should never feel ashamed when making the deeply personal and often complex decision about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child.

We hope the public will join us for a free screening of Obvious Child at the West Virginia International Film Festival at 8 p.m. Thursday at the LaBelle Theater in South Charleston.

It will be shown again at 5 p.m. Saturday.

We understand that one film will not change society’s view of women, but it can help change the conversation around women’s health and sexuality, as well as challenge the stigma associated with abortion. A woman’s decision about her pregnancy should be respected and valued, and Obvious Child should be celebrated for its distinctly real take on this.

Palmer is state field director for Planned Parenthood Health Systems. Meinig is executive director of ACLU of West Virginia. Huff is interim deputy director of West Virginia Free.

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