Kino Eye: When abortion was illegal

Submitted by AWL on 5 January, 2021 - 5:49 Author: John Cunningham
Still from "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days"

Good news from Argentina: its Senate voted for abortion rights on 30 December. Back in the 1960s one of the most restrictive places in Europe for abortion was Nicole Ceauşescu’s Romania, where Abortion Law 770 was passed in 1966. Obtaining an abortion necessitated going “underground”, and estimates suggests that 500,000 women died because of the crude, unsanitary methods used. Abortion was relegalised, on similar lines to Argentina, after Ceauşescu was overthrown in 1990.

Christian Mungiu’s film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007) takes us through the harrowing experience of Găbiţa (Gabriela), who undergoes an expensive illegal abortion. The procedure nearly kills her, and the male abortionist charges extra because she is further into her pregnancy than he thought (once a pregnancy passed a certain point, termination was classed as murder).

Helped by her friend Otilia, she survives. In the final scene, utterly traumatised, they vow never to speak of the events again.

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