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Special Issue Articles

Vol. 5 No. 1 (2023): The Childfree Woman in Literature, Film, and Television

The Abortion Road Trip Film and the Pronatalist Discourse in the Post-Roe v. Wade US

January 11, 2023


With the overturn of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which protected the constitutional right to abortion for almost 50 years, women in America are now faced with extreme difficulties when seeking an abortion. Given this dramatic pronatalist shift that seems only to be getting worse, more and more women will now have to travel through "abortion deserts" in order to seek safe and legal abortion care. Cinema has sought to mediate the troubles and struggles of women "on the road" to safe abortion. Thus, in recent years, we have watched a surge in the representation of abortion within the realm of the road-trip film genre in US-American cinema. Since 2015, several films, such as Grandma (2015), Little Woods (2018), Never Rarely Sometimes Always(2020), Unpregnant (2020), and Plan B (2021), have tackled this issue. Interestingly, only one of those films was directed/written by a male individual, highlighting the way female filmmakers are currently reshaping reproductive health narratives. Additionally, three of these films, namely Grandma, Unpregnant, and Plan B, also fall under the comedy-drama genre, particularly the road trip-buddy comedy genre. This paper aims to explore how the road-trip film genre, which has featured predominantly male characters, is now helping women to share their stories and gain more visibility regarding reproductive rights and how comedy is being used to subvert the overtly dramatic representation of abortion that enhances the pronatalist ideology in most film and television narratives.


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