An Undue Burden

AN UNDUE BURDEN

A 24-HOUR ENDURANCE FILM BY JEX BLACKMORE

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WATCH THE TRAILER

SYNOPSIS

A pregnant woman checks into a modest hotel room where she awaits her abortion procedure for twenty-four hours. Cycling through periods of activity and stillness, the woman begins to unravel with each passing hour, revealing the emotional and psychological depths of her experience. Veiled by the private room, we see the female body as a contested site, her isolation transforms the mundane into a living taboo. With minimal spoken dialogue, the woman’s gaze and actions function as a narrative driver, allowing the story to unfold of a woman in negotiation between her independence and confinement.

1440 minutes, 24 hours
audio/subtitled
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Director’s Statement


Reproductive health access is subject to volatile partisan politics influencing the availability and accessibility of services that impact the lives of millions of women. This is particularly true in 2019, at a moment when reproductive rights hangs in the balance of a new Supreme Court majority. Each year, independent and state-funded organizations launch aggressive media campaigns intended to influence public opinion about reproductive health through a particular moral lens.  Often, policymakers respond to these public campaigns, passing legislation that both benefits the political careers of legislative sponsors and reinforces the divide between those directly impacted by these policies. An Undue Burden asks us to reconsider the impact of these laws, in particular, state-mandated waiting periods prior to an abortion procedure.  Instead of getting caught up in the debate between ‘pro-life,’ and ‘pro-choice,’ the film focuses on the lived experience of women who are forced to comply with this law.  Do mandated waiting periods accomplish what they are intended to do? Do we have a moral responsibility to consider the burden this places on women? Can we even begin to understand the woman’s experience with her story nearly absent in the  political debate? This film is intended to place the public in a position to reckon with these questions.

IF OBTAINING A LEGAL ABORTION IS NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE, IS THE BURDEN UNDUE?

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THE UNDUE BURDEN STANDARD

Since its seminal ruling in Roe v. Wade (1973), the Supreme Court has recognized that the Constitution protects the fundamental right to choose abortion. The undue burden test is the legal standard that courts use to determine whether an abortion restriction violates the Constitution. The test dates back to Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992) (“Casey”), in which the Supreme Court heard a challenge to an omnibus Pennsylvania law that imposed a 24-hour waiting period on women seeking abortion, parental consent and spousal notice mandates, and other requirements. 1 Building on and modifying its earlier cases in which it found that states may pass limited restrictions on abortion depending on the stage of pregnancy, the Court adopted the undue burden standard to separate permissible restrictions from those that are unconstitutional. The undue burden test replaced the legal framework that the Court had used in Roe v. Wade, which relied on a trimester system allowing more state regulation as pregnancy advanced.

Excerpt from The Center for Reproductive Rights

 

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ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

 
 

Jex Blackmore is best known for her controversial performances in public spaces ranging from the steps of state capitols to outside women’s health clinics. Her work, which is focused on the relationship between moral religious rhetoric, sexuality and political policy, takes aim at institutions of social and sexual oppression. She has been featured in numerous publications such as TIME, Vanity Fair, Washington Post, NPR, Cosmopolitan, and Salon. In 2015, she organized the largest Satanic gathering in history to unveil The Satanic Temple’s Baphoment monument, which was featured on CNN’s “This is Life with Lisa Ling.” Her reproductive healthcare advocacy has ranged from disrupting anti-choice demonstrations using gallons of milk, writing about her personal abortion experience in the viral blog entitled “Unmother,” and debating the Westboro Baptist Church. Her work is featured in the Magnolia Picture’s documentary, Hail Satan?, which was an official selection at Sundance 2019.