Artists' Television Access

The Abortion Diaries

Friday, April 29, 2005, 8:00 pm, $5

abortion diaries

The Abortion Diaries is an hour-long (color, DV) documentary about women’s experiences with abortion since Roe v. Wade. Despite abortion being safe, legal, and incredibly common (1.3 million women in the U.S. will have one this year), there is a great deal of stigma surrounding the experience. Lane began this project after her own abortion 3 years ago. Initially, she didn’t talk to anyone about it, and went through most of the experience in silence and secrecy. When she began to speak about it months later, she found that almost everyone she knew had had an abortion. How had this never come up, even amongst close friends? She began to imagine how much less traumatic, terrifying, and shaming her abortion would have been had she had their stories to access beforehand.For this documentary, Lane interviewed approximately 30 women about their abortions, ranging from age 19 to 54, from Virginia to Brooklyn. They are mothers or childfree, professors and students, artists, subway workers, military and doctors. Some speak of their abortions in only positive terms, feeling it was clearly the best thing they could have done in the situations they were in. Others express deep spiritual crises about their choice. Still others just feel plain stupid for having gotten pregnant in the first place. What they all share is an understanding of the issue of abortion from a perspective you almost never hear brought up in the “debate”: that of those women who choose abortion. The rough cut includes 12 of these stories, woven together to form a complex, moving, and at times surprisingly funny portrait of the issues modern women face with regards to sex, love, motherhood, medical technologies, and their own bodies.

Lane says of the piece,

“I really didn’t want to make a “political” film (though the film is clearly and unapologetically pro-choice). The film does not attempt to proselytize or convince anyone to change their mind about anything. What I hope it succeeds in doing is to expand the terms of “the debate” to be a bit more inclusive of the voices of the women about whom we are all arguing. I hope that it allows some women who have had abortions and feel totally alone and silenced to feel some relief or perhaps a lessening of the stigma they feel. I hope that audience members who have not had abortions (or men, who never will but who will most likely be close to a woman who will) will see that the issue of reproductive rights is far more complex than the current debate makes it out to be.”

The Abortion Diaries is funded in part by the Puffin Foundation.

Short Bio:

Penny Lane is a video artist and documentary maker living in upstate New York. She is currently the producer/director/editor of TheAbortion Diaries, a feature-length documentary about women’s experiences with abortion. The Abortion Diaries is funded in part by the Puffin Foundation. Her most recent narrative short, We Are The Littletons, has screened at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Women in the Director’s Chair, Ms. Films, Ladyfest Bay Area, Reel Venus, and Athens International Film Festival. In 2004, she directed He Said, She Said: Sex and Consent on Campus, a training  video (funded by the Department of Justice) to be used on college campuses across the US. In 2003, she was a Core Producer and editor on Independent Media in a Time of War, a half-hour documentary narrated by (Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!), which has now over 15,000 DVD’s in circulation and had its World Premiere at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Most of her individual work is experimental in nature and addresses themes such as motherhood and women’s bodies. Her collaborative work tends toward documentaries and radical politics.The Abortion Diaries, she hopes, combines these two interests. She is currently completing her MFA in Integrated Electronic Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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