New York Magazine


Unborn in the USA: Inside the War on Abortion
  Release Date: 06/15/07


Director: Stephen Fell, Will Thompson

Rating: (NR)
  Running Time
  101 min
  First Run Features
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It's hard to believe anyone could watch the devastating documentary Unborn in the USA without wanting, at some point, to run screaming from the theater. It began as a thesis project by two students at Rice University, Stephen Fell and Will Thompson, who chronicle, without judgment, the activities of anti-abortion activists, from the most sorrowful to the most righteously murderous. Fell and Thompson largely concentrate on the people who stand on street corners and college campuses with blown-up pictures of aborted fetuses. These activists are getting smarter about engaging their foes—they take classes in empathy. They let those photos do most of the talking. At one point, the filmmakers cut between the erection of the billboards and the lifting of the gore-drenched Jesus in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ. Let's rub their noses in the horror.

Where do Fell and Thompson stand? With the exception of one title card—in which they demolish a woman's emotional assertion that having an abortion gave her breast cancer—they are rigorously objective. I'm sad to say that through the eyes of the movie's subjects the pro-choice activists come off as glib, unfeeling, and profane. The most harrowing sequence is saved for the end: A young woman becomes so distraught by the sight of these pictures that she slaps the minister who engages her and is taken away in handcuffs. But whatever your views on abortion (mine are extremely tangled), you need to hear the subjects of this film, if only to be able to fight them more effectively. —Reviewed by David Edelstein, New York Magazine