15 Years Later: Vera Drake Is Still A Dark Tale To Tell
You’ve probably heard the news. Some of the US states implemented even harsher abortion bans this week. The news were men wish shock and disbelief among the female population all over the world, to be honest and yeah… I just knew that I had to watch Vera Drake all over again. Let me start of this post by saying that I haven’t had an abortion at any point in my life.
However, I recently found out that my mom had 2, and according to her statement, she didn’t regret any of them. She was able to give birth to 2 healthy children afterwards, and they were done safely under no legal threat. She was certain about terminating the pregnancies, happy with her choices and really grateful that those procedures were performed by doctors who knew what the hell they were doing. Like I said… There were no legal threats, there were no complications and no regret afterwards. She was able to go home in matter of hours after the procedures.
But as I watched Mike Leigh’s masterpiece Vera Drake, I was reminded on what could it happened to here if they weren’t legal. The titular character, Vera Drake (played by the lovely Imelda Staunton) is a very supportive and loving woman living in postwar London. She’s a mother, wife and a very good friend and neighbor. Always eager to lend a helping hand, always with a sunny cheerful disposition.
But she has a secret. She moonlights as a woman who performs abortions. She doesn’t charge a penny (her fixer does that actually). She thinks that she’s actually doing the abortions as a nice act of charity, and over the screen-time we see her diverse group of patients/women.
Unmarried women, married women who’ve had an affair, women with plenty more children to look after and so on. But Leigh’s point of the movie is never whether or not they should be performed. No, at one point we see that actual doctors perform them in hospitals but after telling some white lies and forking up a large sum of money. Something that most of the ladies just don’t have. These are post war working class women who barely make ends meet, let alone scrape up hundreds of pounds for a safe abortion.
The emphasis is on the word SAFE here. While the doctors perform abortions on high society ladies safely, Vera Drake does them in the privacy of the patient’s homes. Lying on the bed with the knickers down. Oh and you know what instruments she uses while doing the abortions? A tube, a bucket filled with soapy water and that’s pretty much it. And she’s eventually caught because one of her patients almost dies after the botched procedure.
That’s the point of the movie actually. If you restrict the abortions, if your make them illegal or put a social divide on who can have them safely, there will always be women like Vera Drake who do abortions with household items. The abortions will be performed in non-sterile environments and by housewives and cleaners who just don’t know what the hell they are doing. Women like Vera are maybe well-meaning but untrained to perform them safely. The risk of endangering the health of the women is much greater in such conditions, and so is the risk of death.
I beg of you. If you have the chance see it. Watch Vera Drake, and maybe your perception about the abortion will differ. It’s a fantastic movie.