"Vera Drake" Highlights London Film Festival With Illegal Abortion Plot

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 21, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

"Vera Drake" Highlights London Film Festival With Illegal Abortion Plot Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
October 21, 2004

London, England (LifeNews.com) — Another film festival, another pro-abortion film.

After actress Ellen Barkin, the star of "Palindromes," startled those attending the Venice Film Festival by saying she would force her teenager daughter to have an abortion, "Vera Drake" is lobbying audiences in England to accept abortion because of what happened when it was illegal.

The film "Vera Drake," which clinched the Golden Lion top prize in Venice, opened the London Film Festival this week.

In the film, set in the 1950s, Vera is a cleaning lady who "helps girls out" when they are pregnant and considering an illegal abortion. One woman is a mother of seven who says she can’t afford another child, another is fearful of telling her husband she had an affair.

Vera believes it is her duty to help the women have abortions, but hides her actions from her family. She visits women in their homes and helps them obtain secret abortions she performs at hospitals — until she is jailed when one of the women is injured as a result.

Producer Mike Leigh tells Ananova press that he is proud of the film and the pro-abortion message it conveys.

"I’m pro-choice but I hope this is a film that does not bludgeon the audience in black and white. It’s a moral dilemma," Leigh said.

While the film attempts to persuade viewers that abortion should be legal because illegal abortion is dangerous, it fails to show how women have died from legal abortions.

"Vera Drake" stars Imelda Staunton, who won the best actress award at the Venice event. She is reportedly being considered for an Oscar for her role in the film.

Staunton, a British actress, admits to the San Francisco Chronicle that she worries about abortion becoming illegal again in the United States.

"Everyone is pro- or anti-, but it’s not going to go away. (But) if the laws change and it becomes illegal, it could go back to how it was in the film," Staunton said.

The film started off the 48th London Film Festival, which runs until November 4 and showcases 180 films from 60 countries.

At the Venice festival, Barkin told reporters, "I am the mother of a 12-year-old girl and I can tell you unequivocally that if my daughter was pregnant, I would take her kicking and screaming to have an abortion."

In the film "Palindromes," Barkin, who starred in "The Big Easy" and won an Emmy in 1997 for her role in "Before Women Had Wings," plays the mother of a teenager girl who is forced by her parents to have an abortion.

The heroine, 12 year-old Aviva, wants to be a mother. After a neighbor impregnates her, Aviva’s mother (Barkin) insists on the abortion.