TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! Director Cynthia Lowen’s Battleground was completed just before the United States Supreme Court overturned the critical reproductive rights decision of Roe v Wade, which had stood as settled law for 50 years. The documentary is a timely, illuminating behind-the-scenes look at several women leading the anti-reproductive-rights movement they have named “pro-life.” They didn’t, in fact, have to work too hard to overturn Roe. With Trump having loaded the court with a decades-long activist conservative majority, the reversal of the Roe decision was a foregone conclusion, all but inevitable since he was elected to office in 2016.
Lowen introduces us to three self-important figures who believe that they have not only the right but the sacred responsibility to decide for other women what should become of their pregnancies. They seem to be, as Loki said in The Avengers, “burdened with glorious purpose.” Some time is also devoted to key figures in the fight to protect reproductive rights, but the primary focus is the women and young people passionately engaged in an effort to deprive other women of the most basic freedom of bodily autonomy.
“…behind-the-scenes look at several women leading the anti-reproductive-rights movement…”
The abortion question in Battleground has never been one of right and wrong but of whether those with a theological objection can force their will on others. The answer, it turns out, is yes, they have successfully done so, at least for now. The pro-choice argument, of course, is that of all the “inalienable rights” a free nation should strive to provide for its citizens, surely the most foundational should include the right of adults of sound mind to make their own choices about their bodies.
The women featured in the doc are Kristan Hawkins, a campus activist in a group called Students for Life, Marjorie Jones Dannenfelser, who is the president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, an American political organization that seeks to advance anti-abortion women in politics, and finally, strangest of all, anti-choice Democrat and atheist Terrisa Bukovinac. Hawkins and Dennelfelser claim religious belief drives their activism against abortion, though in both cases, they’ve clearly moved into marketing and have taken on political/tribal motivations as well. Bukovinac gives no cogent reason for her anti-choice stance.
Lowen does a masterful job of presenting the anti-choice movement without spin. She does such a fine job, in fact, that some research was necessary to conclude that Battleground is not a promotional piece for anti-choice. Battleground.org offers a page for outlining actions one can take to support abortion access. Lowen is clearly a supporter of reproductive rights.
"…it's clear these are no longer 'united' states."