BY WANA UDOBANG
I spend a lot of my time escaping with films. Particularly, foreign language films, and Independent cinema. I like tender stories and gritty stories. Social realism mostly. One of my favourites is British director, Mike Leigh’s award winning Vera Drake. Set in 1950’s England, Vera is a jolly working class woman who takes care of her family and sick neighbour. She works as a cleaner for a living and she possesses a heart of gold. The Drakes are a happy family. But Vera has a secret occupation. She is a back street abortionist. Vera helps girls get rid of their unwanted pregnancies. I say help because that is what Vera believes she is doing. It’s 1950’s England. Some of them could be disowned by their parents and the others could have their lives completely altered by their mishaps.
Vera doesn’t take a penny from any of them. For her its just part of her compassion and good will. In the course of the story, a middle class young girl is raped by her boyfriend and is brought to Mrs Drake when she becomes pregnant. Unknown to Vera though, her friend Sally who brings most of the pregnant girls for abortions has been collecting money behind Vera’s back. Sadly this particular middle class girl becomes septic as a result of the chemicals used during the termination process. Her wealthy parents find out, Vera is arrested and her secret is unravelled. Vera maintains that she never did anything wrong. She was just helping them out.
The debates between pro-life and pro-choice have weathered many protests and political manifestos. It was even a key element in the Obama campaign. Many will continue to argue about whether or not a foetus has any form of life to it under any certain number of weeks. For the religious right, a child is God given, a life tampered with is simply murder. For others anything under twelve weeks is just a mass of cells.
The fact remains that each box, either of the right or the left are neither black nor white. There are cases of rape, incest and extreme illness. Sometimes you just don’t feel equipped for motherhood.
On the other end it seems a cop put from a mishap.
Sometimes pro-life is just a word and pro- choice really has no choices. The women whose bodies go through this will tell you. The physical pain involved in suction termination. Pessaries placed inside the cervix to soften the neck of the womb then the womb slightly punctured and its contents sucked out with a vacuum like apparatus. The coldness of the forceps between the legs, and the realisation of what your body has just experienced after the decent from auto-pilot. The rush of a lingering pain as their teeth digs holes in pillows to stop their lungs from perforating with a scream. Of course for those those choose to stay awake.
The alternative though might not leave you with much variety.
Vera Drake was eventually imprisoned for performing illegal abortions and she met a lot more women like her in prison. Sometimes, life and choice is never that simple.
Experimental,vivid,entertaining, art and life in a way you havent read or heard before..the words and sounds straight from the GUERILLA BASEMENT
From interview features to hard hitting documentaries and all sorts of podcasts that will boggle the human mind