Roe v. Wade was a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that solidified the fact that our Constitution protects a pregnant person's right to an abortion. The newly released movie Roe v. Wade, however, is a piece of anti-abortion propaganda that perpetuates falsehoods about abortion and the motives behind passing the life-saving court case. The movie doesn’t claim to be historically accurate; it only says it’s “based” on a true story. But although at first, I thought the movie aimed to be Borat-esque, political satire with a bit of raunchiness (I’m still half-convinced that Greer Grammar’s wig must have been a joke), I was wrong — it clearly has a different agenda.
Directed by Nick Loeb — who's main claim to fame was attempting to battle his ex-wife Sofia Vergara for possession of their fertilized embryos — and Cathy Allen, Roe v. Wade tells a skewed tale of how the historic Supreme Court ruling came to be through the eyes of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, an obstetrician and co-founder of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL). Dr. Nathanson pioneered the pro-choice movement, only to switch sides after the 1973 ruling. The movie paints him, along with abortion activist Larry Lader, as money-hungry opportunists who were fighting for the pro-choice movement for the wrong reasons.
The movie is hard to watch for several reasons, including the terrible acting, the graphic images, and the appearances from far-right figures including Stacey Dash, Jon Voight, Tomi Lahren, and Milo Yiannopoulos. Jamie Kennedy, the actor who plays Larry Lader, also revealed that a number of the cast and crew walked off the set once they realized what the movie was going to be about. In short, this film is a mess.
Roe v. Wade is full of half-truths and inflammatory language intended to get its anti-abortion point across. The film describes safe, surgical abortions in overly graphic ways; it frames women who've been forced to travel to receive abortion care as careless and flippant about their decision; and it implies that certain Supreme Court Justices were borderline coerced by the women in their family to vote a certain way in the landmark case.
The movie seems intent on pushing a narrative that we’ve been hearing from anti-abortion folks since the 1950s. And while it may not be intended to be completely factually accurate, it’s hard to ignore some of the lies it tells about the realities of abortion and abortion access in the US. Here’s a sampling of some of the biggest untruths in Roe v. Wade.
After 10 weeks, the fetus will feel the pain of the abortion.
This statement has been perpetuated by anti-abortion folks, but has been proven time and time again to be false. "The best available evidence indicates that it's not possible for a fetus at 20 or 22 weeks to feel pain," Daniel Grossman, MD, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California at San Francisco previously told Refinery29. "The neurofibrils that connect pain receptors to the cerebral cortex are not developed, and really don't develop until the third trimester — past 26 weeks." A 2005 review in the Journal of the American Medical Association also states that fetuses don't develop the neurological wiring to feel pain until the third trimester.
Jane Roe regretted participating in the case.
This film completely ignores the fact that Jane Roe, aka Norma McCorvey, was coerced, manipulated, and bribed by anti-abortion activists to become a public figure for their agenda after the 1973 ruling. A documentary around McCorvey titled AKA Jane Roe was shot in 2017, shortly before her death. "I think it was a mutual thing," she revealed. "I took their money, and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That’s what I’d say... I did it well, too. I'm a good actress." The documentary also reports that McCorvey received, at the very least, $456,911 in gifts from anti-abortion groups.
Police officers found buckets of baby parts and fetuses in a hotel room.
A fictional sequence plays out in the movie, depicting a group of officers performing a sting operation on an illegal abortion in a hotel room. After barging in, the cops find buckets in the bathroom containing bloody tissue and "baby parts." This never happened — anywhere. The Daily Beast speculates that this scene came from an incident where a woman died from an abortion in Buffalo in 1971.