Plan C: A Documentary on Abortion Pill Access

November 27, 2023
6:00 P.M. ET
John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum
This event was co-sponsored by the Institute of Politics (IOP) at HKS and the Women and Public Policy Program. It was presented by The Shorenstein Center's Documentary Film in the Public Interest Program.
On Monday, November 27th the Shorenstein Center hosted a Film Screening and Panel Discussion on the Documentary Film, Plan C. Issues of reproductive healthcare and access, especially in the wake of the overturn of Roe v. Wade, are animating the public and influencing electoral politics. In the year since the United States Supreme Court overturned the almost 50-year landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, 20 states have enacted some form of abortion ban.

Among the many contemporary challenges to reproductive health are the regulations and restrictions being placed upon abortion pills delivered by mail. PLAN C, a new documentary film (Sundance 2023) by award-winning director Tracy Droz Tragos, captures the behind-the-scenes story of the Plan C campaign and the work of activists and providers who began to mail abortion pills in the face of crumbling reproductive rights & access across the U.S. The film reveals the pipelines they built, the criticism they faced, and the hope they have for the future.

In this panel and screening event, PLAN C director Tracy Droz Tragos, State Senator Shelley Mayer from New York, Professor and Medical Director, Linda Prine, MD, and Professor Emerita Ana Langer discussed efforts from policymakers that have pushed legislation towards immediate access and State Abortion Shield Laws. The conversation was moderated by Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Sarah Wald.

The panel was followed by an exclusive screening of the documentary PLAN C.  This event was presented by the Documentary Film in the Public Interest program at the Shorenstein Center.

You can find more information about the film and Plan C’s work, here:

Tracy Droz Tragos is an award-winning writer, filmmaker, and mother, drawn to issues involving women, inequality, and rural America. At an early age, Tracy found solace in storytelling, watching Vietnam War movies and making a connection with the father she never knew, a U.S. Navy officer who died in Vietnam when she was a baby. 
PLAN C, about a grassroots network fighting to expand access to abortion pills across the United States, premiered at Sundance 2023 to critical acclaim. Tracy’s previous work includes Abortion: Stories Women Tell, the HBO documentary telling intimate stories of unplanned pregnancies, resilience and personal tragedy; Smartest Kids in the World, a documentary about the crisis in U.S. high school education, and Be Good, Smile Pretty, an Emmy Award-winning documentary about the grief and healing of survivors of the Vietnam War. With Rich Hill, Tracy embedded in the homes of low-income families in rural Missouri. Among other awards, Rich Hill won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Since then, Tracy has continued filming with these Missouri families with a focus on Sarah, who became pregnant at age 15 – and is now a mother of three. Tracy was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for this longitudinal film, now ten years in the making. 

Shelley Mayer is an experienced and progressive leader who has spent her career as an advocate for New Yorkers. She has been a champion for children and families with a strong commitment to K-12 education throughout her career as an attorney, Assistant Attorney General and New York State Legislator. Shelley was elected to the New York State Senate to represent the 37th Senate District in Westchester in April 2018, and was subsequently re-elected in November 2018, 2020, and 2022. Previously she served in the New York State Assembly representing the city of Yonkers, New York State’s third largest city. In 2019, Shelley was appointed to serve as the Chair of the State Senate Education Committee and has worked with her colleagues to deliver resources and policies to ensure every child receives a quality education, regardless of zip code. After the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, she sponsored legislation authorizing telemedicine in New York State for reproductive health services by licensed New York providers to states where abortion is restricted. Shelley received a J.D. from SUNY Buffalo School of Law in 1979 and a B.A. from UCLA in 1975. Shelley lives in Yonkers with her husband of 44 years, Lee Smith. They have three adult children and five grandchildren.

Dr. Ana Langer joined the Harvard School of Public Health in July 2010 as a Professor of the Practice of Public Health (Department of Global Health and Population), and Director of the Women and Health Initiative. Dr. Langer, a physician specializing in pediatrics and neonatology and a reproductive health expert, has conducted research in low and middle-income countries and published extensively on maternal health; unsafe abortion; contraception; strategies to improve quality of reproductive health care; integration of maternal and newborn health care; and maternal health in humanitarian settings.  

Along her career, Dr. Langer has conducted extensive research and worked effectively on the translation of scientific evidence into policy and programs in her field in all three major developing regions and currently also in the USA. Dr. Langer retired from HSPH in December 2022 and was appointed as Professor of the Practice, Emerita at Harvard University. 

Linda Prine is a professor of Family and Community Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in NYC. She was a co-founder of the Reproductive Health Access Project, the RHAP Fellowship, the Access list, the Reproductive Health MIG of the AAFP and the Miscarriage and Abortion Hotline (M&AHotline). She serves on the leadership group of the M+A Hotline and works as a medication abortion provider for Aid Access. She most recently co-founded and serves as the Medical Direction of the Abortion Coalition for Telemedicine Access. In all of these capacities, she has been a leader for full-spectrum reproductive health care: the integration of abortion, miscarriage and contraceptive care into mainstream medical care with universal access for all. 

Sarah Wald is a lawyer and educator whose career has been in government and higher education. She is currently Senior Policy Advisor and Chief of Staff to the Dean at the Harvard Kennedy School, as well as Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy at the Kennedy School and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School. She has co-taught the seminar on Gender and Public Policy at HKS, and she is one of the faculty who teaches in and oversees the joint MPP/JD program. At Harvard, she is a member of several university-wide committees, including the Advisory Committee on Title IX Policy, and the Committee on Faculty Conflict of Interest. She has also been Dean of Students and Lecturer on Law (taught The Government Lawyer: Public Enforcement of Consumer Rights) at Harvard Law School, Assistant Provost for Policy and Planning at the University, and a member of the Harvard University Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention. She is a former Assistant Secretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation and former Assistant Attorney General in Massachusetts. She has also been at the University of North Carolina, where she was Special Assistant to the Dean at UNC School of Law and Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs at UNC School of Medicine. She served as President of the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association, and teaches seminars on gender communications to practicing lawyers around the country. She is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School and her legal publications have appeared in the Harvard Women’s Law Review, the Administrative Law Journal and the Widener Law Review. She is author of “Women in Black: Judges” in Breaking Barriers: The Unfinished Story of Women Lawyers and Judges in Massachusetts (MCLE 2012) (with Rebecca Rogers).