Abortion. A word that makes many people uneasy. And it’s also the center of an ongoing war between the Pro-Life supporters and the Pro-Choice side. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Like most wars, both sides have some positive things about them and negative ones as well. With The A Word, Lindsay Ellis takes this hot topic and shows it for what it truly is. And that’s a choice, usually for a singular woman and in this case, it’s our filmmaker herself.
In 2009, Lindsay Ellis was 26 years old and a graduate student. She also had an abortion, like millions of women do, and decided to document herself showing both sides of the proverbial coin but giving a usually silent third side the chance to speak up: The women who have actually had the abortion. It was something I had not thought about before but the truth was there. Most documentaries that deal with abortion tends to take one side, be it pro-life or pro-choice, and sticks by it. It’s just that those sides usually don’t have a strong figure who had the procedure and was willing to discuss it.
Ellis weaves a tale that many women go through every day, and is as candid about it as much as one can. There is no political agenda here. No religious right that’s trying to force you to not abort. It’s a film that was made to start an actual discussion, showing multiple viewpoints and not denouncing one central one as the correct one. Ellis has had this experience and it’s part of her healing and we as the viewer feel her pain when she opens up in front of pro-life group, telling them how she felt when she made the choice to have an abortion. It’s a truly touching moment and will make the most stone faced person shed a tear or two.
We also get Lindsay’s mother, who is understanding and there for her daughter. A mother most people would want behind them, especially with a trying time such as this. Their relationship is shown here as not only as mother and daughter, but as best friends who cherish their time together. Her father is also in the film, who doesn’t say much at all, but we know that he is hurt by the abortion she’s had, and when her mom let’s her know that as fact, we understand his side as well. And we get her ‘baby daddy’ as she so eloquently puts it on screen, Ritvak, who is also a student and their dialogue between one another is from a logical standpoint. If they were to have this baby, would they had been able to continue with school? That’s why the choice was made, ultimately.
Lindsay Ellis gives us many talking heads, be it random women who have had abortions and what it’s meant to them in their lives to a pro-life group who have religious vigils outside an abortion clinic. It makes for a captivating watch, which at the same time makes us tense. It might be because of too many movies, but one starts to worry that someone is going to firebomb a clinic. There are no freak outs, thankfully, and we get a supposed understanding of one of the groups leaders when Lindsay opens up at a seminar. One wonders if it was true understanding or as Lindsay mom states, part of a way to use her for their movement.
At a running time of less than 30 minutes, Ellis shows us more about the pain and triumph of her abortion and subsequent healing than most could do within a 2 hour period. It will make you laugh, it will make you angry and it will make you cry, but the best part is, it will enlighten you about a side that’s been quiet for far too long. Not many people truly realize that abortion is a choice that’s made and either way, if you have one or not, the choice is a tough one. The A Word throws away the stigma of the word being risque, and just to proudly speak about it. There’s nothing to hide and the more open people can be about it, the more the divide between the two sides of the ‘war’ can shorten a bit.
If you’d like to know more about the film or see if it’s screening at a festival near you, please go to The A Word and their Facebook account for more information. If you’d like to see Lindsay Ellis’ intellectually hysterical videos, go watch her Nostalgia Chick videos at TGWTG. If you have any nostalgia at all for 80’s and 90’s films and TV shows, you’ll definitely love it.