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10 movies about abortion

Recently we’ve asked you on our social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) what movies (and TV shows) you know that mention abortion. You flooded us with answers, and we decided to sum them up here.

We had some examples in our heads, but you made us realize that so many more movies actually touch this subject, sometimes openly, sometimes - less directly. And so many of these movies we didn’t know at all, now reading descriptions, plots and (sometimes) controversies - thank you so much, this is some great resource!

Initially I wanted to list them all here, but I think it will be better to do it in parts. It is not just about listing the titles, but reading what they are about, how they describe the subject, and who are the people they portray.

So here it is - first 10.

Disclaimer: we use short descriptions and posters available on Wikipedia or IMDB for each of these movies/TV shows, and add some additional commentary. For best one - I suggest jumping to my description of Grandma 😉

We will link to this post on our Facebook page, feel free to comment, and to add more titles if we omitted some. You can also email us or comment directly here - email us if you would want to but not sure how.

10 movies about abortion - part 1

  1. A Private Matter, 1992, dir. Joan Micklin Silver

  2. Alfie, 1966, dir. Lewis Gilbert

  3. Cider House Rules, 1999, dir. Lasse Hallström

  4. For Colored Girls, 2010, dir. Tyler Perry

  5. Grandma, 2015, dir. Paul Weitz

  6. If These Walls Could Talk, 1996, dir. Nancy Savoca, Cher

  7. Juno, 2007, dir. Jason Reitman

  8. Obvious Child, 2014, dir. Gillian Robespierre

  9. Racing with the Moon, 1984, dir. Richard Benjamin

  10. Revolutionary Road, 2008, dir. Sam Mendes


A Private Matter, 1992, dir. Joan Micklin Silver

Based on the true 1962 story of Sherri Finkbine, a resident of Phoenix, Arizona in the first trimester of her fifth pregnancy. She was the popular hostess of the locally produced children's television show Romper Room.

She was taking the drug thalidomide—a drug that was, at one time, commonly given to pregnant women in order to alleviate morning sickness and other uncomfortable symptoms associated with pregnancy. In the early 1960s, it became known that the use of thalidomide while pregnant caused significant deformities to the fetus. Sherri expressed concerns about the well-being of her own baby, and consulted with her physician who scheduled a legal, therapeutic abortion at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix.

Abortion was illegal in Arizona in the 1960s, but exceptions were made if the mother’s life was at risk, and under this exception, abortions were performed in hospitals regularly. The Finkbines scheduled an abortion, but when Sherri’s story was picked up by the media it created a media firestorm. An acquaintance who worked for the Arizona Republic had asked Sherri, on a promise of anonymity, to share her story. Sherri agreed, hoping that by doing so she could warn other women about the dangers of thalidomide. Her identity was exposed, however, and her private decision was soon subjected to public scrutiny. The film shows the harassment the family went through as they went through various appeals as they sought to obtain abortion services.

The hospital refused the use of their facilities for an abortion so Finkbine filed a lawsuit to compel the use of Good Samaritan Hospital. A public and bitter struggle ensued, culminating with Finkbine terminating her pregnancy in Sweden.


Alfie, 1966, dir. Lewis Gilbert

Alfie tells the story of a young womanizing man who leads a self-centred life, purely for his own enjoyment, until events force him to question his uncaring behaviour, his loneliness and his priorities. He cheats on numerous women, and despite his confidence towards women, he treats them with disrespect and refers to them as "it", using them for sex and for domestic purposes.

Alfie frequently breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera narrating and justifying his actions. His words often contrast with or totally contradict his actions.

At some point, his lover Lily informs him that she is pregnant from their one encounter, and the two plan for her to have an illegal abortion to keep Harry, her husband from finding out. The abortion proves traumatic for both Lily and Alfie, with Alfie breaking down upon seeing the aborted fetus, in a powerfully moving moment, the only time the dire consequences of his own actions really came home to Alfie, though shortly after through the fourth wall he tried to make light of it.

Definitely shows that 60s were a different time. Have to watch this one to be sure which direction it's leaning towards.


Cider House Rules, 1999, dir. Lasse Hallström

Based on John Irving's novel of the same name. The film tells of the coming-of-age of Homer Wells, who lives in a World War II-era Maine orphanage run by a doctor who performs illegal abortions.

Conditions at the orphanage are very sparse, but the children are treated with love and respect, and they are like an extended family.

Homer, the oldest among the orphans, is very bright, helpful and even-tempered, so Larch trains him in obstetrics and abortions as an apprentice, despite Homer's never having attended high school. Homer disapproves of abortions, and, although he has been trained by Larch in the field, he refuses to perform them.

Later Homer finds himself in a situation when he decides to help young woman raped by her father. He agrees to perform abortion on her.


For Colored Girls, 2010, dir. Tyler Perry

The film depicts the interconnected lives of ten women, exploring their lives and struggles as women of color. The film's lead cast consists of ten African-American women, seven of whom are based on the play's seven characters, only known by color (e.g. "lady in red", "lady in brown", and "lady in yellow"). Each character deals with a different personal conflict, such as love, abandonment, rape, infidelity, and abortion.

One of the characters, representing purple, Nyla shows up at Tangie’s - representing orange to ask her for money, explaining that she needs it for college, but Tangie is not fooled. She then deduces that Nyla is pregnant, but Nyla denies this. Tangie relishes in the fact that Nyla isn't so perfect [!!!]. She then tells her about the time she got pregnant and reveals where to find a back-alley abortionist.

Nyla goes to see the abortionist, Rose, who is terrifying, and probably drunk. Nyla's mind completely goes blank during the abortion as Rose tells her of a story about her life in Harlem ("I Used to Live in the World"). Nyla passed out in the streets after her abortion. Later, she is being interrogated by Renee and Kelly, and gives them and Alice a vivid detail of her abortion.

The plot seems complicated and touching many important things with many characters’ plots connecting, hard to put here only some fragments of it. After reading reviews I am not sure, what is the lesson to be taught here. To quote some of them: “Macy Gray's eerie portrayal of a back-alley abortionist will make you rethink ever having unsafe sex.” Definitely putting on my list of movies to watch And check this cast!!!


Grandma, 2015, dir. Paul Weitz

Elle, a lesbian poet and widow is visited by her teenage granddaughter who asks for money for an abortion. Over the space of a day, they visit numerous people from Elle's past to call in favors in an effort to raise the money.

One of the interesting visits: Elle and Sage visit Elle's ex-husband Karl. She tells him she needs to borrow the money for rent, and he requests a kiss in return. This leads to an argument over how Elle ended their relationship, but when she pleads with him, he agrees to hand over the cash. When he asks her to be honest about the reason for needing the money, she tells him that Sage needs an abortion, and Karl becomes angry and emotional. Elle once aborted his child without telling him, yet went on to give birth to a baby born from a one-night stand. She explains that she wanted a child but not a husband, and Karl angrily insists he will not pay for an abortion.

As director said: “I was really interested in this idea that somebody that is in their 70s can be more transgressive and have a more passionate voice than this person who is 18”. This is not quite a surprise to me. While working on The Choice, guess who is one of my biggest supporters. Yep, my Grandma ❤️


If These Walls Could Talk, 1996, dir. Nancy Savoca, Cher

It follows the plights of three different women and their experiences with abortion. Each of the three stories takes place in the same house, 22 years apart: 1952, 1974, and 1996. The women's experiences in each vignette are designed to demonstrate the popular views of society on the issue in each of the given decades.

1952 story: Claire, a widowed nurse, becomes pregnant by her brother-in-law and decides to undergo abortion in order not to hurt her late husband's family. However, abortion at the time is strictly illegal. Claire calls a woman who apparently can find her someone to perform the abortion. The woman on the phone tells Claire that the only trustworthy abortionist she knows is located in Puerto Rico, and Claire cannot afford the travel costs - with air fare and hotel costs, the total trip would cost about $1000, which is about $9500 today. After a failed attempt to end her pregnancy with a knitting needle, Claire eventually contacts a man who comes to her home and performs a clandestine procedure on her while she lies on top of a kitchen table. Claire finally manages to abort, but dies shortly afterwards due to hemorrhage.

A short commentary here: I remember Marcia telling me a story of her sister's abortion performed on her kitchen table. New York, before Roe v. Wade. You can read it here: Before Roe v Wade: Marcia's abortion story

The 1974 segment deals with Barbara, a struggling and aging mother with four children and a policeman husband who works the night shift, who discovers she must welcome another addition to the family, despite having recently gone back to college. She considers abortion with the support of her teenage daughter but ultimately chooses to keep the child.

The 1996 segment deals with Christine, a college student who got pregnant by a married professor, decides on an abortion when he breaks up with her and only offers her money. She makes an appointment with a doctor. However, the abortion takes place during a violent protest, and an anti-abortion protester walks in on the operation and shoots Dr. Thompson.

I think I remember watching it as a child - scenes with Demi Moore on the table, and her dying, and vaguely remember the other stories as well. Wikipedia says it’s was the hightest-rated movie in HBO history! Definitely will rewatch it.


Juno, 2007, dir. Jason Reitman

A coming of age teen comedy. Juno, the title character, is an independent-minded teenager confronting an unplanned pregnancy. The subsequent events put pressures of adult life onto her. She initially considers an abortion. Going to a local clinic run by a women's group, she encounters a schoolmate outside who is holding a one-person protest for pro-life vigil. Once inside, a variety of factors lead Juno to leave.

It has received criticism and praise from members of both the anti-abortion and pro-choice communities regarding its treatment of abortion. There was some debate whether Juno is pro-choice or anti-choice. A. O. Scott, writing for The New York Times, agreed that Juno has "an underlying theme, a message that is not anti-abortion but rather pro-adulthood."

Ellen Page commented, "What I get most frustrated at is when people call it a pro-life movie, which is just absurd... The most important thing is the choice is there, and the film completely demonstrates that." Reitman thought that it was "fantastic" that pro-life and pro-choice groups were embracing the film.

I definitely have to watch it again to make my own mind. I remember having some strong considerations while watching it years ago, but if faded with time passing what my thoughts where then.


Obvious Child, 2014, dir. Gillian Robespierre

The story follows Donna, a stand-up comedian, who has a drunken one-night stand with Max after breaking up with her boyfriend. She subsequently finds out she is pregnant and decides to have an abortion.

Donna visits a Planned Parenthood clinic to schedule an abortion and discovers the only dates available are her mother's birthday and Valentine's Day; she picks Valentine's Day. Initially she doesn’t tell Max about planned abortion, as she hears him talking about how he wants to be a grandfather someday.

She talks to her mother, who comforts her by telling her that she too had an abortion before Donna was conceived. [Such an important thing to have support from our loved ones!]

Max learns about Donna’s plans when she performs at the club, speaking about how she is pregnant and planning to have an abortion. On the day of Donna's abortion, he arrives at her home with flowers and asks if he can accompany her to her procedure. While at the clinic he tells her he supports her, and that when he said that he wanted to be a grandfather, he meant sometime far in the future. 

By making the film, Robespierre hoped to remove the stigma surrounding abortion and to correct what she perceived as a misrepresentation of unplanned pregnancy in earlier films.

I haven’t watched this one yet, but seems refreshing to have a movie and people who talk about abortion openly (ok, she didn’t tell Alex initially, but I mean talking to her mom), have support, and recognize what the pregnant person needs during these days - Alex showing up with flowers and being there with her. Awesome!


Racing with the Moon, 1984, dir. Richard Benjamin

Some interesting plot here, especially when we realize it’s 1984!

1940s, Henry and Nicky are about to be deployed to serve overseas. They have approximately 6 weeks before shipping out. One day, Henry sees Caddie, a local girl, and the friends conspire to get her attention and learn more about her. Nicky follows her to learn where she lives, and discovers that she lives in an elaborate mansion. He assumes that she is a "Gatsby girl" and is therefore rich. As it turns out, Caddie lives there because her mother is a maid.

Soon Henry and Caddie become a couple. Meanwhile, Nicky's girlfriend, Sally, is pregnant with his child. He attempts to get $150 from Henry for an abortion. Henry asks Caddie, whom he assumes can easily afford it. Caddie, in an effort to avoid letting Henry down, attempts to steal a pearl necklace from Alice, a young woman who lives at the house at which Caddie resides. She is caught and confesses the reason she needs the necklace. She ends up borrowing the money from Alice.

Sally has the abortion and Henry berates Nicky for not being there for his girlfriend. This causes a brief rift that is mended when each realizes that they need each other in order to handle the difficult transition they are about to make.

Yes, read it again: “Henry berates Nicky for not being there for his girlfriend”. Didn’t watch it yet, definitely on my list now!


Revolutionary Road, 2008, dir. Sam Mendes

In 1948, Frank Wheeler meets April at a party. He is a longshoreman, hoping to be a cashier; she wants to be an actress. Soon they marry, April becomes pregnant.

Quickly it’s becoming obvious that their relationship is troubled: April fails to make a career out of acting, while Frank hates the tedium of his work, he ends up having sex in a hotel with secretary from work. April wants new scenery, they consider moving to Paris.

While preparing to leave to Paris, she becomes pregnant again. When Frank discovers she is contemplating having an abortion, he is furious and starts screaming at April, leading to a serious altercation, in which April says that they had their second child only to prove the first child was not a "mistake".

After several events, quarrels, April offscreen performs a vacuum aspiration abortion on herself. Afterwards, she discovers herself bleeding downstairs and calls an ambulance. Frank arrives at the hospital, distraught. April dies in the hospital from blood loss.


This is only just some of the movies you've recommended. I will be posting more in following posts.

Thank you so much, and now: I am watching them all! 😍


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