Location: Friedman 101
Pizza will be provided.
This film screening features a visit with the film's director, Ricki Stern, P'19, P'22.
REVERSING ROE is a critical and timely look at the volatile landscape of women’s reproductive rights in America, exploring how abortion through its legalization became the political lightning rod issue it is today. Focused through the prism of the landmark 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, the film covers the deeply divisive history of abortion law in America, leading us into the political climate of 2018 where abortion rights are once again a hot-button issue. With 14 cases on the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion just one step away from the Supreme Court, the Roe V. Wade decision and the future of women’s reproductive rights and healthcare is once again at a crossroads. Exploring the implications that the recent retirement of Supreme Court Justice Kennedy and the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh may have on the future of abortion, the film could not be more relevant or urgent.
Intense and unflinching in its commitment to telling the whole story, REVERSING ROE looks back through history to paint a picture of America when abortion was illegal. Drawing from a wealth of historical footage, it charts the period leading up to the Roe v. Wade decision, and documents the opposition that has followed ever since. Notably, we see throughout the film that the opposition has evolved from an issue of moral and religious beliefs to a strategic political stance. With examples spanning from Reagan’s presidency to Trump’s, the film examines how many politicians battling against abortion rights are doing so not out of a personal belief, but rather to secure the conservative vote and powerful conservative allies. The film highlights some striking revelations that are key to understanding this complex history—for example, the fact that the Republican Party was the party of choice before Ronald Reagan’s presidency; or that the first abortion clinic in New York was opened by a coalition of Protestant ministers and Jewish rabbis.
REVERSING ROE then places this history in the context of today, providing a gripping look at what’s happening on the ground in 2018. Through candid and riveting interviews with key figures from both sides of the divide, among them doctors Colleen McNicholas and Curtis Boyd; feminist icon Gloria Steinem; Operation Rescue president Troy Newman; and National Right to Life president Carol Tobias, REVERSING ROE sheds light on what specific issues are at the forefront of the reproductive rights battleground today, and how each side is gearing up in support of their positions. It explores how the Roe decision has been affected over the years by other Supreme Court cases, and how newly appointed conservative judges from the lower courts will continue to rule on cases relating to abortion. Bringing us beyond the federal court system, the film also emphasizes the politicization of abortion at the state level, most indelibly with its coverage of Senator Wendy Davis’ 11-hour filibuster in 2013 to block legislation that would place greater restrictions on abortion in Texas.
Through the combined lens of history, politics, healthcare, and empathy, REVERSING ROE looks to both sides of the debate to present a deeply illuminating look of the state of abortion and women’s rights in America. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of abortion, REVERSING ROE is essential viewing to understand how the country got here—and where it may be going.