I Had an Abortion

A film by Gillian Aldrich and Jennifer Baumgardner

2005 | 55 minutes | Color | DVD | Order No. 07912


Underneath the din of politicians posturing about "life" and "choice" and beyond the shouted slogans about murder and rights, there are real stories of real women who have had abortions. Each year in the US, 1.3 million abortions occur, but the topic is still so stigmatized it’s never discussed in polite company. Powerful, poignant, and fiercely honest, I HAD AN ABORTION tackles this taboo, featuring 10 women – including famed feminist Gloria Steinem – who candidly describe experiences spanning seven decades, from the years before Roe v. Wade to the present day. Filmmakers Jennifer Baumgardner (author of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future) and Gillian Aldrich insightfully document how changing societal pressures have affected women’s choices and experiences.

Cutting across age, race, class and religion, the film unfolds personal narratives with intimate interviews, archival footage, family photos and home movies. Arranged chronologically, the stories begin with Florence Rice, now 86, telling without regret about her abortion in the 1930s. Other women speaking out include Marion Banzhaf, who, inspired by both the Miss America protests and the Stonewall rebellion, fundraised on her campus to pay for her abortion, and Robin Ringleka-Kottke, who found herself pregnant as an 18-year-old pro-life Catholic. With heartfelt stories that are never sentimentalized, I HAD AN ABORTION personalizes what has become a vicious and abstract debate.


“Fresh, moving, important…Muriel Rukeyser wrote, ‘If one woman told the truth about her life, the world would split open.’ [This film] gives us 10 truth-telling women, and splits the world open in as many ways.”

Katha Pollitt The Nation

“A breakthrough in the contemporary discussion about abortion … succeed(s) in showing how differently abortion has been understood — and felt! — in different times. This destabilizes all the other discussions, such as Lake of Fire, which uncritically assume that the current political climate of doom, sorrow and defensiveness is the natural tone for any discussion of [abortion]."

Ann Snitow Founder and Chair, Network of East-West Women

“Moving, intense, and refreshingly honest, the film is a terrific educational tool.”

Eleanor J. Bader Zmag

"Provides essential context for examining issues of reproductive justice while serving 'to break the wall of silence' on this subject."

Leela Madhava Rau Assistant Dean of Student Life & Dir. of Diversity Affairs, Univ. of Redlands

“In a very short space of time SPEAK OUT: I HAD AN ABORTION manages to transform the secrecy and stigma of abortion to a rally cry for speaking up about the commonality and the complexity of abortion decisions.”

Peg Johnston Abortion Conversation Project

“Showing I HAD AN ABORTION in my Women’s Studies class led to a great discussion on feminist activism and women's bodies, from general health to specific issues like abortion, rape, abuse, etc., and the value of speaking out in order to create change.”

Stephanie Gilmore Professor, Central Connecticut State University


Educational Media Reviews Online

"No one who sees this remarkable film will be able to turn away and ignore their experience."

Michael Moore Filmmaker, Activist


  • Fargo Film Festival, Ruth Lanfield Award for Social Justice
  • The National Coalition of Abortion Provider's Annual Conference
  • The Feminist Majority Foundation
  • Planned Parenthood Southern Finger Lakes, Corning, NY
  • The Emma Goldman Clinic, Iowa City, IA
  • Hot Springs Documentary Int'l Film Festival
  • Boston University, Boston, MA
  • American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), NY
  • Center for Reproductive Rights, NY
  • Planned Parenthood New York City, Annual Roe Event, NY
  • Columbia University, NY
  • Macalester College, St. Paul, MN
  • Las Adelitas Political Action Committee, Albuquerque, NM


Gillian Aldrich

Gillian Aldrich is a documentary producer and journalist who has worked on social justice issues through television, radio, and print. She worked with Michael Moore on several projects, including for the Academy Award winning documentary BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE. She also worked on his television series, "The Awful Truth," his best-selling book, "Downsize This," and his documentary, THE BIG ONE. In television, she line-produced Trio’s "The Syringa Tree," a moving one woman show about growing up in South Africa under apartheid, and she worked on the Showtime documentary BROTHERHOOD OF HATE, profiling one family’s crime and a community steeped in white supremacist ideology. With Skylight Pictures, she co-produced BATTLE FOR BROAD, a documentary about the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, a renowned group of homeless activists in Philadelphia. From this experience, Gillian became an early member of the media college, a group of media professionals who assist The Poor Peoples’ Economic Human Rights Campaign and advocate media democracy. In radio, she produced the progressive daily national news show "Democracy Now!" and she wrote and produced 20TH CENTURY MAN for "This American Life." (01/20)

Jennifer Baumgardner

Jennifer Baumgardener is is a writer, activist, filmmaker, and lecturer whose work explores abortion, sex, bisexuality, rape, single parenthood, and women’s power. She attended Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, graduating in 1992. While at Lawrence, she helped organize an anti-war "Guerrilla Theater," led a feminist group on campus, and co-founded an alternative newspaper called The Other that focused on intersectional issues of liberation. She moved to New York City after graduation and in 1993 began working as an unpaid intern for Ms. magazine. By 1997, she had become the youngest editor at Ms.

She has since written for numerous magazines, including Glamour, The Nation, Babble, More, and Maxim. Her books include "Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future, Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism" written with Amy Richards, and "Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics." In 2004, she produced the documentary film I HAD AN ABORTION, which tells the story of ten women’s abortion experiences from the 1920s to the present. Baumgardner’s work has been featured on shows from The Oprah Winfrey Show to NPR's Talk of the Nation, as well as in the New York Times, BBC News Hour, Bitch, and various other venues. She has keynoted at more than 250 universities and, in 2003, the Commonwealth Club of California hailed her in their centennial year as one of six "Visionaries for the 21st Century." From 2013 to 2017, she served as the Executive Director/Publisher at The Feminist Press at the City University of New York (CUNY), a feminist institution founded by Florence Howe in 1970. (01/20)


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