“Our Bodies Our Doctors” tells the story of a rebellion in the field of medicine as a cohort of physicians faces abortion stigma within their own profession and confronts religious control over health care decisions. Their fight takes them into a larger struggle over the heart and soul of American medicine.
It was not very long after the passage of Roe v Wade in 1973 that abortion clinics and doctors came under attack by anti-abortion activists. With clinic bombings, death threats, and harassment targeting providers and their families, it appeared by the 1990s that few doctors were willing to provide this service. But beneath the surface, a quiet rebellion was taking place in the field of medicine. A number of doctors came out publicly as abortion providers, even as the larger medical community often viewed them as “rogue physicians.” This rebellion depended heavily on working with women’s freestanding clinics and their feminist allies. “Our Bodies Our Doctors” takes viewers into the lives of these providers and their struggles to provide abortion procedures. It explores the importance of settings founded on feminist principles and their profound impact on models of patient care in mainstream medicine.
The documentary features a cadre of these “rogue” physicians––doctors of different generations who came to train in Oregon and Washington, states with some of the most liberal abortion laws. Their stories are as deeply personal as they are political. As we follow them in their daily work lives, we get a feeling for their deep connections with patients and other practitioners and how those connections sustain them. We see how they incorporate feminist principles in thinking through ethical dilemmas associated with abortion care. We learn about what things were like when they first began their medical careers and the people who influenced them. And we follow their journeys from clinics and training centers in the Pacific Northwest to areas of the country where women’s rights are more threatened.
Winner of the Best Documentary Feature at Portland International Film Festival 2019 and Best of SIFF at Seattle International Film Festival 2019
“This is a film that truly SHOWS truth to power, exposing the daily realities of performing procedures from providers POV and why they fight for reproductive justice.”— Gloria Steinem, writer and activist
“This film feels nothing short of revolutionary. The experiences of abortion providers have for too long been left out of the pro-choice vs. pro-life debate, and presenting these doctors with honesty and compassion will have a profound impact on the discourse around abortion in this country.”— Grayson Dempsey, Executive Director, NARAL ProChoice Oregon
"Abortion and feminism have been historically intertwined, but surprisingly the provider’s role in this special aspect of women’s reproductive health has been somewhat peripheral to the often-heated discussion. The documentary Our Bodies Our Doctors brings the doctors who make abortion care part of their practices front and center. Through the eyes and voices of abortion care providers practicing in both blue and red states, the film addresses the stigma and fear surrounding this work as well as the deep commitment to supporting women through compassionate, nonjudgmental health care. Along the way, interviews with experts provide historical context for this moment in our ever-deepening culture wars. While including glimpses of the passions driving the question of legal abortion in the United States, Our Bodies Our Doctors progresses on a curiously dispassionate note – these doctors have a job to do even if they are sometimes disparaged and even attacked for doing that job. But of course, their work and the film itself are anything but dull. Highly recommended for both health professional and general audiences." - EMRO
About the filmmaker
Jan Haaken is professor emeritus of psychology at Portland State University, a clinical psychologist, and documentary filmmaker.
From refugee camps, shelters, war zones and mental hospitals to drag bars and hip-hop clubs, Jan Haaken’s documentary films focus on people and places on the social margins, drawing out their insights on the world around them. As a psychologist and documentarian, Haaken weaves research and historical analyses into rich and vividly drawn landscapes that represent the perspectives of her subjects. Through the lens of psychology, she takes intimate conversations with people in crisis into wider social vistas, bringing forces on the periphery of the action into focus.