Price: $310.00

    Code: 2289

    Directed by Melissa Thompson
    2007, 30 minutes (plus over 90 minutes on the supplementary DVD)
    Purchase: $310 Classroom Rental: $125

    Abortion is illegal in Ireland, potentially punishable by life imprisonment; and yet over 8,000 Irish women a year travel to England for abortions. They make this journey in secret and return in silence, some of them never telling a soul. Like A Ship in the Night follows three women - a young painter, a working class mother of five, and a self-proclaimed country girl - as they plan their journeys across the sea.

    Along the way, we hear from community workers, doctors and counselors about the history of the laws and social attitudes that make their journey necessary. Louise, Mary and Siobhan are welcomed in England by grassroots activists who support Irish women during their stay. After their abortions, the women head home, each armed with a "catalog of lies" to explain their extended absence. At the end of this long, emotional journey, they are afraid to tell anyone where they have been or what they have been through.

    The power of these women's firsthand accounts promotes dialogue around this contentious issue. Directed by Melissa Thompson (The Road of Women: Voices of Irish Women Political Prisoners), the documentary encourages audiences to reflect on the laws governing women and girls in the U.S., as lack of funding, waiting periods, restrictions on clinics and threats to providers pose increasing obstacles to women and girls seeking to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

    Like A Ship in the Night comes with a special second DVD that offers more information on the issue of abortion in Ireland. The following documentaries are included on the disc:
    • Historical Undercurrents (16 minutes)
    • Making Waves: Pro-Choice Groups in Ireland (30 minutes)
    • Crossing Over: Logistics of Travel (22 minutes)
    • Escorting Irish Women (10 minutes)
    • Stuck at Sea: The Current Situation (15 minutes)

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Winner, Best Documentary, Festival of Independents, Philadelphia Film Festival, 2007
    * Official Selection, San Francisco Independent Film Festival, 2008
    * Official Selection, United Nations Association Film Festival, 2007
    * Official Screening, Marie Stopes Conference on Global Safe Abortion, London, 2007
    * Official Screening, Choice Ireland, 2007
    * Official Selection, National Museum of Women in the Arts Film Festival, 2007


    Three Stars "A thoughtful and non-inflammatory documentary. Recommended." - Video Librarian

    “For students viewing this from the United States, it will feel like a trip back in time before Roe v. Wade… The film makes a powerful case for the emotional traumas produced by abortion prohibitions. In the United States, it will also serve as a reminder of the ever-present danger of growing restrictions on the right to abortion.” - Films for the Feminist Classroom

    “A terrific piece of documentary art.” – St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival

    “A timely and cautionary tale.” – Gail Kenyon, Meredith College

    “A thoughtful and expertly paced piece of filmmaking, in perfect rhythm with its subject matter.” – Belfast Film Festival

    “Conveyed in journalistic interview style, the film includes comments by Irish and British social workers, doctors and counselors who provide background and context to the issue. By no means neutral, the film clearly advocates pro-choice as a woman’s reproductive and human right and portrays Irish law in this area to be both rigidly conservative and ultimately anti-female. Despite its very volatile subject, the film is neither a polemic nor an emotional outcry. It is recommended.” - Educational Media Reviews Online

    “The distressing experiences of the women in Like A Ship in the Night sharply underscore the critical need for organized opposition to restrictions on reproductive freedom. This issue reaches beyond women in Ireland – these rights have no borders.” – Dayle Steinberg, Planned Parenthood

    “Melissa Thompson’s documentary Like a Ship in the Night shines an exquisite light on the experience of Irish women seeking abortions. In so doing, the film offers a keen and realistic perspective on abortion that combines individual experience with politics, medicine, and morality, rather than simplifying it to just one of these factors…. As future physicians, this film has a special value to us as we learn how to support our patients’ decisions, and how to understand the factors that influence and limit our patients’ choices and their health… The film’s insight can help guide us to support these patients, whatever their needs and whatever their decisions. Like a Ship in the Night also shows the terrifying situation we ourselves may face when the law prevents us from caring for our patients and meeting their needs.” - Medical Students for Choice