Directed by: Joanne Ardinger
Released: 2020 (educational)
Year of Production: 2019
Running Time: 80 min
Subtitle Options: English Closed Captions
Subjects: Women's Health Studies, Feminism, Criminal Justice, American Studies
Personhood: Policing Pregnant Women in America tells a different reproductive rights story – one that ripples far beyond the right to choose and into the lives of every pregnant person in America. Tammy Loertscher’s fetus was given an attorney, while the courts denied Tammy her constitutional rights and sent her to jail.
Through her story, the film reframes the abortion debate to encompass the growing system of laws that criminalize and police pregnant women. At the intersection of the erosion of women’s rights, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration, Tammy’s experience reveals the dangerous consequences of these little-known laws for American women and families.
Official Selection at Big Sky Documentary Film Festival 2019 in the Best Feature Competition and World Premiere at DOC NYC 2019, Winner of the Silver Gavel Award for Documentaries at the American Bar Association 2020 & Wisconsin Film Festival 2020 Golden Badger Award
“Women are beginning to recognize that what’s at stake is more than abortion, it is their personhood — their ability to be full, equal, constitutional persons in the United States of America." -Lynn Paltrow, Executive Director, National Advocates for Pregnant Women
“If you think The Handmaid’s Tale is fiction, the chilling new independent documentary film from Jo Ardinger and producer Rosalie Miller, about the widespread detention and criminal prosecution of pregnant women in the United States, will move you to organize for a new Mayday.” — Carrie N. Baker, Ms. Magazine
“In addition to exposing how fetal ‘personhood’—or the anti-abortion idea of legal protection for fetuses—immediately threatens the lives and well-being of pregnant people, the documentary film covers important issues concerning what the future could hold if state and federal policy continues in this trajectory. Personhood serves as a reminder that more organizing and political activism are needed to meet the challenges ahead.”
- Elizabeth Gay, Rewire
“Although the ‘personhood’ movement has enjoyed momentum away from the spotlight for quite some time, that is coming to an end with the release of a searing and insightful new documentary from director Jo Ardinger, that exposes just how awful these fetal personhood laws actually are.”
- Asha Dahya, GirlTalkHQ
“One of the most important films at DOC NYC. A must see.”
- Steve Kopla, Unseen Films
About the filmmaker
Jo Ardinger is an award-winning filmmaker and the founder of Tandybrook Productions. Her feature debut, PERSONHOOD, explores the growing criminalization and policing of pregnant people in America. The film premiered at DOC NYC in 2019 and won the American Bar Association’s 2020 Silver Gavel Award for Documentary. Ardinger is a director and editor working on both documentary and narrative films. Recent editing credits include the documentary short Beyond The Visible: The Story of the Very Large Array, narrated by Jodi Foster (Media Interpretive Award, Cine Golden Eagle, Telly); the award winning dramatic short Every Beautiful Thing, starring HBO’s Lauren Weedman; and the PBS documentary, Into Deepest Space: The Birth of the ALMA Observatory. Ardinger is also an instructor at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she teaches digital storytelling in the realm of science.
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