‘Unpregnant’ series sheds light on complexity of abortion

Jade Ellis

jellis2@uccs.edu 

4 out of 5 stars 

HBO Max’s “Unpregnant” hit the streaming world in September and is based on a novel of the same name by Ted Caplan and Jenni Hendriks. It stars two female leads: Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira. 

     The film focuses on the story of two former best friends who go on a road trip from Missouri to New Mexico in order to get a legal abortion.  

     Veronica Clarke (Richardson) is a popular honor-roll student with exceptionally religious parents. The movie begins with Veronica realizing that she is pregnant, and she has to decide what to do. She eventually enlists the help of her childhood best friend, Bailey Butler (Ferreira).  

     Though this movie could come across as simply another cliché high school movie, filled with classic stereotypes, “Unpregnant” goes beyond the norm to generate a powerful message about a woman’s right to choose. 

     Veronica is unable to get an abortion in her home state of Missouri, as a result of being a minor at age 17 and being unable to enlist her parent’s permission in the interest of keeping her pregnancy secret. She must travel across multiple state lines to New Mexico to a clinic that will allow her to have the procedure done without parental consent. 

    Though this movie has a lot of happy and warm feelings, it encourages open and blunt dialogue about abortion. 

     In the beginning of the film, Veronica is in denial and cannot even admit that she is going to have an abortion. With the help of Bailey, she is able to eventually accept her decision. The movie does a great job at portraying the process women go through to get an abortion. It does not sugar-coat the experiences but, instead, shows the reality that women face globally every day. 

Barbie Ferreira (left) and Haley Lu Richardson (right).
Photo courtesy of HBO.

     This film also speaks directly to the debate in government and society between pro-life and pro-choice beliefs. Veronica finds herself frustrated, and rightfully so, that her boyfriend was not open about their sexual history and, as a result, jeopardized her entire future. In a scene in the middle of the movie, she curses at the Missouri State Legislature. 

     The only parts of the film I did not enjoy was the use of timeworn high school tropes. Though this may make the movie more relatable for a younger audience, it is not always enjoyable to have the same stereotypes played out in movies because it often becomes too predictable and boring. I did not find the film boring by any means but simply wished that they moved certain parts away from common clichés. 

     Lastly, the film puts a huge emphasis on coming together and not being alone during tough situations. Veronica has Bailey with her through all of her struggles, and, eventually, they both find the courage to be open with their families about their problems, learning that the right people will pour love back into you, no matter your decisions or life circumstances. 

     I thoroughly enjoyed watching “Unpregnant” and appreciated the message it delivers. I encourage you to watch it on HBO Max to decide your own thoughts and feelings.