This Powerful New Film Tells “the Real Handmaid’s Tale” (

Updated at 2017-07-24 04:33:50 UTC


Civia Tamarkin wanted to make a film about reproductive rights, but she knew it had to transcend the familiar abortion debate. A veteran criminal justice reporter and two-time documentarian, she was aghast at the Supreme Court’s 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, which rolled back women’s access to low-cost contraceptives. So Tamarkin jumped into the fray: Birthright: A War Story, in selected theaters starting this month, tells “the real-life Handmaid’s Tale“—of women jailed for smoking marijuana while pregnant, pressured to undergo c-sections against their will, or forced to risk their lives by carrying nonviable pregnancies to term. The film elegantly weaves the history of “pro-life” advocacy with stories of women who have suffered at the hands of their doctors and the system—collateral damage, as it were, of a movement seeking to limit reproductive health care. In the process, Tamarkin talks candidly with some of the movement’s shakers, from Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks to the founder of Personhood USA, providing an inside look at the logic and tactics of powerful abortion foes.