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A new film tries nobly to 'de-stigmatize' abortion. So why does it leave me cold? | Jessa Crispin

In its effort to be sympathetic, Unpregnant flattens abortion into a simple and palatable narrative

In the new HBO Max comedy Unpregnant, a 17-year-old girl calls a clinic to set up an appointment for an abortion. Veronica has just learned she is pregnant, and while we are not told why she is choosing not to continue her pregnancy, we can guess it has something to do with all of the medals and certificates of scholastic achievement on her wall. (Future’s so bright…gotta get rid of that unborn baby…) When she’s told that without first getting parental consent the closest place she can have the procedure done is 1,000 miles away, she remains undaunted and creates a detailed budget, map, and schedule to have the abortion, while avoiding informing her parents and keeping anyone at school from finding out.

Because we all know #menaretrash, Veronica chooses as the companion for her road trip a plucky but now estranged childhood friend, Bailey, and the film morphs into your typical teen comedy. Despite never quite abandoning its After School Special undertones, Unpregnant is very charming. It’s just two girls, running from the police, getting into hijinks, overcoming barriers to their friendship and their futures with zeal and sugary drinks. It hits all of the expected plot points of its genre, and the predictability of it all is very comfortable. They get into trouble, they learn something about themselves and each other, and you know at every step all will ultimately end well, and our hero will get what she wants, like the loss of virginity or admission into the college of choice, but in this case it is an abortion.

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