Matthew Medina and Anissa Dickerson share a moment after the screening of Call Jane, a film about abortion access in the 1960s that was co-written by Brigham physician Roshan Sethi.

It was no coincidence that Matthew Medina, MSN, CNM, RNC-OB/EFM, attended the opening night of Call Jane last October.

The independent film, which stars Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver, chronicles the story of the Jane Collective — an underground network established in Chicago in the late 1960s to help women access abortions at a time when the procedure was outlawed and stigmatized in much of the United States.

A nurse midwife at the Brigham, Medina cares for pregnant patients, making the subject of the film especially close to his heart — particularly in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion in its Dobbs. v. Jackson ruling in June 2022.

Yet there was another factor that inspired him to buy tickets for Call Jane: the film’s special connection to the Brigham. Its screenplay was co-written by Roshan Sethi, MD, a Brigham radiation oncologist who splits his time between patient care and a career in Hollywood as a writer and director.

After the lights came back on in the Hingham theater where Medina and his husband watched the film, they were approached by another moviegoer. “Thanks for being here,” she told them. “We’ve gotten though it once, and we’ll get through this again.”

For Medina, the next steps were clear.

“I knew this film had to be shared with our community and knowing it was created in part by our BWH family made it that much more important,” he said.

He reached out to a colleague, Deborah Bartz, MD, MPH, associate director of Family Planning and director of Education for the Mary Horrigan Connors Center in Women’s Health and Gender Biology, to think about how they could celebrate the film and its message with the Brigham community.

Bartz suggested they align the effort with the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that had established abortion as a constitutional right on Jan. 22, 1973, until the court’s reversal of it last summer.

In collaboration with Sethi, both Bartz and Medina organized a screening of Call Jane at the Brigham on Jan. 23 as a celebration of Roe and an opportunity for the Boston abortion care community to come together in support of patients, families and each other.   

“The Dobbs decision was a blow — a personal blow for those of us who are pregnancy-capable and a professional blow for those of us who work daily to protect access to safe, legal abortion,” Bartz said. “This event was truly meant to be a therapeutic moment to bring us all together to celebrate, voice, vent, rage and reflect in a safe, shared space. The 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is a momentous occasion that we could not let slip by unnoticed.”

‘Called to Serve’

Sethi, who co-wrote Call Jane in 2016 with screenwriter Hayley Schore, was touched to see his Brigham colleagues mobilize this effort in support of patients and providers.

“It took many, many years for the movie to get made and the investment and hard work of so many people. It was an incredible gift seeing it hit theaters in October 2022 but an even greater privilege to screen at Brigham and Women’s with my colleagues and the people who are doing the work celebrated by the film,” Sethi said. “I’m really grateful to Dr. Bartz and Matthew Medina for spearheading the event.”

The screening was followed by a multidisciplinary panel discussion with Bartz and several other clinical and research experts in abortion care: Anissa Dickerson, MSN, MPH, CNM, director of Boston Medical Center’s Refugee Women’s Health Clinic; Deb Campbell, BSN, RN, a Labor Delivery and Family Planning nurse; Alisa Goldberg, MD, MPH, director of Family Planning; and Liz Janiak, ScD, MSc, MA, a social and behavioral scientist at Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Medina, who also serves as chair of the Massachusetts section of the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric, and Neonatal Nurses, a co-sponsor of the event, encouraged health care professionals to use their platforms to tell lawmakers that abortion is an essential component of reproductive health care that can save a person’s life or protect their health.

“Having this event, watching this movie — it is a reminder that we have been called to serve a population that has often had to suffer silently. We will continue to fight for healthy, safe and comprehensive OB-GYN care,” he said.

One Response to Roe Turns 50: Indie Film with Brigham Ties Screened at BWH, Experts Highlight Need for Safe Abortion Care”

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