Discussion Guides

We’ve created a discussion guide to help begin the conversation at your Motherless home viewing.

General Discussion Guide

Use this discussion guide to begin a conversation about Motherless and abortion. Feel free to add your own questions and focus the discussion on topics that are relevant to your audience. You may want to set ground rules prior to beginning the discussion in order to create a safe space in which people feel comfortable having a conversation about this sensitive topic.

Sample discussion questions

  1. Share your reaction to the film. Which images or stories stuck with you?
  1. Picture a “typical” abortion patient. Think about her age, race, religion, income, number of children, and contraceptive use. Now, listen to the following facts from the Guttmacher Institute about women who have abortions:
  • Nearly 1 in 3 women in the US will have an abortion by age 45.
  • 6 in 10 women in the US who choose abortion already have children and cite the need to care for their families as a key reason to not have another child.
  • Over half of all women in the US who have an abortion are in their 20s. Teens account for less than 2 in 10 of all abortions.
  • Over 1 in 3 abortions are obtained by white women. Women of color are disproportionately likely to have an unintended pregnancy and an abortion due to social and economic inequities, including lack of access to contraceptives, health care, education, and employment.
  • 3 in 4 women who have an abortion are religiously affiliated.
  • Over 4 in 10 women have an abortion live in poverty. Medicaid and many private insurance plans do not cover abortion in most situations.
  • 89% of abortions occur in the first trimester of pregnancy.
  • Over half of women who have abortions used a contraceptive method (usually condoms or the pill) during the month they became pregnant.

How does the woman you imagined match with reality? What surprises you?

  1. Discuss the importance of access to safe, legal, affordable abortion. Do you believe there should there be restrictions on abortion? If so, what kinds?
  1. Have you ever spoken about abortion with anyone who was alive when Roe was decided or with people who sought an abortion before 1973? What did they have to say?
  1. What barriers currently exist for women attempting to get an abortion?

The film depicts the reality of unsafe and illegal abortion in the US prior to the landmark Roe v. Wade (1973) decision in which the Supreme Court invalidated a Texas law on the grounds that the constitutional right to privacy encompasses a woman’s decision whether or not to continue her pregnancy.. In the decades since Roe, however, states have gone to great lengths to put obstacles in the way of people seeking abortion care and people providing abortion care. Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP, laws impose costly and medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion clinics, and they make it difficult and expensive for abortion clinics to remain in operation. The Supreme Court recently heard arguments in a case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, challenging Texas’s TRAP law and is expected to issue its decision in June 2016.

  1. This film was made in 1992. In what ways is it still relevant? How have abortion, stigma, access, and legislation changed in the last two decades?

In the current political environment, the further along a woman is in her pregnancy and the state in which she lives greatly impact her access to safe, legal abortion. Women faced with barriers to abortion don’t always continue their pregnancies and have children that they cannot support (physically, financially, emotionally, or otherwise). Rather, some women go to great and potentially dangerous lengths to obtain an abortion. A 2015 survey found that between 100,000 and 240,000 women in Texas – a state with especially restrictive TRAP laws – had attempted self-induced abortions in the past five years. Additionally, a 2015 analysis of Google searches found that there was a sharp increase in search terms regarding unsafe self-induced abortions, including “buy abortion pills online” and “how to do a coat hanger abortion,” for a total of over 700,000 such searches last(?) year. The increase in self-induced abortion Internet searches correlated with the increase in new laws that restricted access to abortion and were most common in states with more abortion restrictions.

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