Film Review: “Hush”

We at Voices for the Voiceless are constantly seeking to find answers to the question: How has abortion affected our culture? The abortion issue has severely divided our country and has even led to battles that seem to be only concerned with picking a side rather than with the actual lives affected by this issue. Our goal is not to build fences, but to share the truth in a real and honest way through art and storytelling. Canadian filmmakers Punam Kumar Gill and Drew and Joses Martin had a similar mission in the making of their recent documentary Hush; although divided in their political and moral views of abortion, they committed to setting their biases aside to find out the real, long-term effects of abortion on women’s health with the ultimate goal of providing women with the opportunity to make truly educated decisions about their pregnancies.

Hush combines stories and science as Gill, a pro-choice filmmaker, attempts to discover the link, if any, between abortion and breast cancer. While several major health organizations, like the National Cancer Institute (who happen to be backed by some influential funding sources), claim that there is no link, Gill could not deny that there are a great number of scientific studies that have found a noticeable increase in breast cancer cases correlating with the increase in abortion rates. In her journey to discover the truth, she is appalled to find that although there is much scientific evidence indicating that abortion increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 30%, abortion doctors and health organizations in support of abortion neglect to share this risk. The issue of “informed consent” comes into question during this educational journey; Gill shares stories of many women who had faced not only breast cancer, but also future premature births and physical and psychological damage after their abortions, but who had not been informed about the possibility of these risks before agreeing to the operation. Gill finds that because abortion is such a controversial topic, many health professionals are willing to disregard the data so as to not step on any toes. But that is not giving women the respect they deserve and the empowerment to fully understand the consequences of their actions.

Mixing scientific study and storytelling is a unique aesthetic for a film, but Gill and Martin take control of this task beautifully, not only invoking questions from the audience but also going on to answer those questions. Information is followed up with interview, which is then followed up with story. Gill even takes the storytelling aspect of the film a step further, offering brutal honesty about her own life as she discovers that her history of a miscarriage could put her at the same risk as the women her age who choose to end their pregnancies. The close personal connection spurs her on to find the entire truth, and she draws the audience into her journey by detailing every struggle and confusion and frustration. This candid narrative also serves to connect differing viewpoints in the audience: Gill’s mission is not to accuse anyone, but to reconcile the pieces of the reproductive health puzzle that seem to be connected regardless of the country’s insistence to the contrary.

Hush is not about political leanings; although pro-choice, Gill sought to put her skepticism aside and focus on the truth — to be not pro-choice or pro-life, but pro-information. The stories she acquired in return were enough to convince her that abortion is not as straightforward an issue as some may claim. If abortion is such an important part of women’s reproductive health, why does it cause so many potential problems (the probability of which increase with the number of abortions)? And even more importantly, why are women not informed of these risks? Every woman who cares about her reproductive health should take the time to watch Hush, and learn to ask the tough questions about how abortion can affect us as individuals and our culture as a whole.

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