Film Review

Growing up in the post-Roe v Wade era in a lot of ways has been a blessing; it is, however, important for women and men of my generation to understand what it was like before there was access to legal abortion. We must continuously strive to advocate for this, especially in places where they are closing facilities and making it impossible for women to receive medical treatment. Access to safe and affordable medical care should be viewed as a good and a basic need and thus because it is a basic need it should be a “right.” In the film Cider House Rules, both Dr. Larch and Homer, his protege, are serving the greater good by providing services that were illegal at the time. This film shows the importance of why we need medically trained professionals to provide this service to women and also why we must continue to advocate for this to remain legal, accessible, and affordable.

The Cider House Rules (1999), an Oscar award-winning film directed by Lasse Hallstrom,  has become a classic in many ways. It deals with abortion, incest, coming of age, love, and the underlying need to continue to strive for access for women to receive medical care. Dr. Larch was the physician at the orphanage in St. Cloud, Maine. He acts as the caretaker both to the children at the orphanage and the women who seek his help. One of the residents, Homer, has grown up and he and Dr. Larch have an interesting familial relationship. Over the course of the film, Homer leaves the orphanage in search of love and adventure and finds himself working at an apple orchard on the farm of the fiance of one of Larch’s patients. It is while he is working there that he is given the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Larch. Homer, while not a medically trained physician, had worked closely with Dr. Larch and had assisted with numerous procedures. One of the workers on the orchard, Rose Rose, becomes pregnant due to incest. Homer and his girlfriend, Candy, both assist in helping her. This event in all of their lives is a critical moment. Homer has had the training to perform the procedure and Candy confides in Rose Rose about her own experience with abortion, in the end Rose Rose seeks help and has the procedure.

One of the attendees of the film, board member Betty Boyd, states, “I was inspired. I saw this years ago and had a much better understanding of it than the first time.” It is important we continue to show this film because we need the audience to understand the days before Roe and that we need to continue to make it affordable and accessible for all women and not return to the coat hanger days. It is important to understand and know the history of this so that we can continue to advocate for access for women. Boyd states her continued advocacy for access, “I am committed because so much of a woman’s life can be uplifted or destroyed based on whether they have access to reproductive health care.”

-Michelle Sheehy