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Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always—a powerful and necessary film about abortion access

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Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always is about a teenager struggling to get support as she seeks an abortion. It’s an important watch, writes Helen O’Sullivan
Issue 2707
Sidney Flanigan as Autumn in Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Sidney Flanigan as Autumn in Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always is a film that centres on a 17 year old  girl Autumn, whose home, social and school life all appear as dysfunctional as each other. 

It tells the story of Autumn’s journey and the obstacles she experiences when she finds herself pregnant and wants to have an abortion. 

Autumn lives in Pennsylvania and is encouraged to not have an abortion by her doctor, who actively misinforms her of what abortion is and involves.

The film takes us on a dark journey with Autumn. It shows the lengths Autumn has to go to in order to end her pregnancy, and the lack of advice and support to help her access services.

Autumn turns to her cousin Skylar and they resort to travelling to New York.  Along the way their encounters expose the hostile world that women experience daily.

These include sexual advances to the inaccessibility of abortion services if you are working class—particularly young and working class. 

The scenes of Autumn accessing the clinics and the actual abortion show how the barriers are physical as well as practical and structural.

As an activist involved in the Abortion Rights campaign they invoked strong feelings in me. The film doesn’t shy away from showing what women accessing these services experience.

A lot of films about abortion often show the distress the woman has in making the decision.

Often they end with them not actually going through with it. The distress is always about the woman’s own actions. Not the structural and societal barriers they face in accessing services and the impact that plays on their decision making.

Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always does the exact opposite of this. It shows a brutal but unfortunately very realistic experience that many girls and women have. This film has come out at a time when women’s reproductive rights in the US are being attacked by Donald Trump, with access to abortion increasingly becoming more difficult.

These rights have been attacked more during lockdown. Authorities in Texas and Ohio were able to suspend all abortions in March by classifying them as elective procedures. 

Films like this are greatly needed to give an honest and open account of women’s experiences, with the oppression they face within society and structurally.

It is an important watch. It makes sure that the only story being told isn’t that of the anti-abortionist.

Never, Rarely, Sometimes Always is available to stream on various services including YouTube, Google Play and Amazon Prime


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