Lest We Forget

I have been watching as many Sundance movies as I can during the past two weeks. I wish I could say that there were countless incredible films, but there weren’t. Yet, one or two gems make a huge difference. One of those gems is The Happening.

The Happening is a French film (big fan of French cinema) that is an adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s book looking back on her experience of having an abortion in 1960 when abortion was illegal. Illegal, as in if it was discovered that you had an abortion or had anything to do with it, you went to jail. Many women attempted their own abortions using knitting needles or a hanger and ended up in the hospital, which most did. You hoped the doctor noted miscarriage in your files or off to jail.

Think about that for a second. At that time, when a doctor deems a woman pregnant, it is registered in the system. This doesn’t happen for men.  It only happens to women.  Many women lost their lives, and god knows how many couldn’t get pregnant ever again.  

The movie follows Anne, a brilliant woman, during her exams which one must pass to get to college. Her parents own a restaurant/bar, and expectations for her are high. One night, just one night, she has sex and gets pregnant. We follow Anne from week three to week 12 of her pregnancy. Each week gets tougher while she attempts an abortion on herself and finally finds someone to give her one, eventually ending up in the hospital.

This film should be shown to the Supreme Court and every Senator in our country. Anne had to take this all on her own shoulders; the man just continued his studies. Only women can get pregnant, but women also have goals, careers, and desires. One night changes a woman’s life forever. It is purely patriarchal control.

The film’s best line that continues to roll around my head was between Anne and her professor. Of course, her school works are suffering. She is distraught and attempting to figure this all out herself. She finally gets the abortion, her mind is clear, and she is ready to move on with her exams.

The professor asks her.” Were you ill.”?  She answers, “Yes, the worst kind of illness that only happens to women.” He looks at her acknowledging what she is about to say, and she finishes with “the kind of illness that turns women into housewives.”

We can not go back in time. Taking away a law that has been in the books since 1973 would be devastating. Watching this timely movie hits you right in the face. Abortion should always be a legal procedure giving a woman the right to choose. We can’t return to the past.