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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Review: Abortion documentary is hard-hitting
By Caroline Ryan
BBC News Online health staff

A 23 week old foetus in the womb
A 23-week-old foetus in the womb
BBC News Online reviews Channel 4's controversial My Foetus, which contains footage of a woman having an abortion.

When Julia Black decided to make a documentary looking at the realities of abortion, she wanted to create a programme that would make people think about their views.

She says while one in three British women will have an abortion, society "continues to shy away from the reality of the procedure".

The end result of her investigation is often shocking and harrowing.

But it is a valuable programme to watch.

Ms Black succeeds in her aim of forcing the viewer to address what an abortion involves - and what it means for women who choose to go ahead with the procedure.

My Foetus shows images of foetuses aborted at 10, 11 and 21 weeks, which most people will never have seen before.

The images are disturbing - they are difficult to watch
And the film breaks one of the last TV taboos by showing footage of a woman having an abortion when she is four weeks pregnant, and doctors examining the remains of seven-week old foetus.

The images are disturbing. They are difficult to watch. But they do make the viewer face up to what an abortion actually involves.

Ms Black is careful to balance her film by emphasising that abortion is not something women go ahead with lightly.

She also draws on her own experience to refute the idea that women feel pushed into having an abortion by doctors.

Around 180,000 abortions take place each year, 87% before 12 weeks. The legal limit for abortion is 24 weeks.

'There are the facts'

Ms Black, the daughter of the founder of the Marie Stopes clinics, made the film while pregnant for the second time. When aged 21, she made the decision to terminate her first, unplanned, pregnancy at eight weeks.

Julia Black
No more secrets
Julia Black
She admits to being strongly pro-choice until her second pregnancy made her decide to re-examine the basis for her own views.

Ms Black believes people are often pro-choice without addressing what an abortion actually involves - and pro-life advocates run campaigns designed to shock and repulse without considering what a woman who decides to go ahead with the procedure actually goes through.

In her film, she talks to pro-life campaigners who advocate the foetus' right-to-life and doctors who carry out both early and late abortions.

At the close of her film, she states: "There are the facts. No more secrets. Every woman who finds herself in a situation similar to mine can make up her own mind which path she takes.

"The battle for and against abortion can now begin. Which side of the fence you fall is up to you."




SEE ALSO:
Storm expected over abortion film
20 Apr 04  |  Entertainment
Pushing the TV boundaries
20 Apr 04  |  Entertainment
Channel 4 defends abortion film
05 Apr 04  |  Entertainment


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