The Coat Hanger Project is a documentary film about abortion and the current state of the reproductive justice/pro-choice movement.
Before the legalization of abortion in 1973 in the United States, thousands of women died from complications resulting from botched illegal abortions. Currently, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that 60,000 - 80,000 women worldwide die annually from unsafe abortions. An additional 5,000,000 women suffer permanent or temporary injury.
In 2006, South Dakota Legislature made an attempt to ban all abortion in the state without exception for rape or incest. H.B. 1215 was to be the most restrictive abortion ban ever put forth by a state since the passage of Roe v. Wade.
The South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families came together as a pro-choice coalition effort to overturn the ban. In 2006, volunteers and activists from across the country descended on Sioux Falls and canvassed, protested, rallied and raged to get this ban overturned. Angie Young, the filmmaker, was part of that effort. On November 7, 2006, the people of South Dakota voted to overturn the ban, thereby sending a strong that even in conservative, predominantly anti-choice states, the people want to keep abortion legal.
However, in 2008, another abortion ban (this one with a rape exception) appeared on the November ballot in South Dakota. Thankfully again, it was overturned. But the fight is not over: our work as pro-choice activists is NOT done. We must continue to fight to protect legal abortion, because the other side is doing everything in its power to take that right away from us.
The Coat Hanger Project features interviews with Loretta Ross (Co-Founder of SisterSong - Women of Color Reproductive Health Alliance), Paris Hatcher (Co-Executive Director of SPARK Reproductive Justice Now), Vicki Saporta (President and CEO of the National Abortion Federation), Heather Booth (founding member of Jane, the underground feminist abortion service, 1969-73), Dr. Bonnie Morris (Author and Associate Professor of Women's Studies, George Washington University), Dr. Mildred Hanson (pre-Roe abortion provider, Minneapolis, MN), Casey Murschel (Executive Director, NARAL-South Dakota), and Dr. Konia Trouton (abortion provider and feminist health center owner, British Columbia), Sir Jesse and LadyJane of the Feminist Outlawz (Atlanta, GA), as well as artists, activists, and other notable voices on the movement.
"By placing our reproductive health and rights within a social justice framework, the Reproductive Justice Movement offers an authentic way for us to understand how reproductive oppression – the control and exploitation of our bodies, sexuality, and reproduction – is a result of intersections of multiple oppressions based on race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, age and immigration status, and is inherently connected to the struggle for social justice and human rights."
-Maria Nakae, Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice