A new Netflix documentary claims to provide an “illuminating look” at women’s rights and abortion. But some are saying that the film instead resorts to old stereotypes, and fails to take into account one perspective in particular: that of pro-life women.
The documentary, titled Reversing Roe, premiered on Netflix on September 13. Created by filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg, the film promises to offer “candid and riveting interviews with key figures from both sides of the divide.”
But pro-life advocates aren’t convinced.
Reversing Roe“continued the age-old stereotype of showing the pro-life movement as white men," said Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood director who founded the pro-life organization And Then There Were None.
Only one pro-life woman is seen being interviewed throughout the entire 99-minute documentary, while 13 pro-choice women are featured. According to a New York Times review of the film, "there’s no doubt that the film has been made from a pro-abortion-rights perspective."
The Media Research Center has confirmed that no fewer than five additional pro-life women were interviewed for the documentary, but apparently did not make the cut. The women included leaders of well-known pro-life groups, and some spent multiple days answering questions from the filmmakers.
“What a waste of their time, actually, to spend two and a half days with me and these other amazing pro-life women and not to use any of that footage,” Abby Johnson added.
Instead, the vast majority of Reversing Roe’s pro-life voices belong largely to white men--in spite of the fact that most national pro-life organizations (such as March for Life, the Susan B. Anthony List, and And Then There Were None) are, in fact, run by women.
“In so many cases, it is women who are at the forefront of the movement to value and protect every human life. Sadly, that fact was left out of the documentary,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life.
“Had it been included, viewers would have been given the chance to see that the pro-life movement is fundamentally pro-women, because every abortion harms both mother and unborn child,” Mancini said in a statement to Catholic News Agency (CNA).
Pro-life women like Abby Johnson believe that the documentary’s decision to ignore them was, in fact, very intentional.
“Being a feminist and being pro-life – that those two things go hand-in-hand – that’s something that they outright reject because it does not fit the narrative that they have been trying to put forward for the past almost 46 years.”
Johnson added that abortion advocates want to present “this idea that the pro-life movement is out of touch with women and that it is only men who are speaking about abortion in the pro-life movement…That is not true, a majority of national pro-life organizations are led by women.”
Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, president of the secular pro-life organization New Wave Feminists, was also interviewed but reportedly overlooked.
“When we look at these feminist issues through a pro-life lens, I think you get a very refreshing and different take, but they weren’t interested in a refreshing and different take - they were interested in the stale, old narrative that this is completely religious, that …it’s men trying to control women’s bodies,” Herndon-De La Rosa told CNA.
“To act as though this is only a religious issue or to act as this is only a male-dominated issue,” added Herndon-De La Rosa, “it’s disingenuous to the American people and a big chunk of American women who do hold these pro-life views.”
Reversing Roe is currently streaming on Netflix.