Rain Without Thunder
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (November 2012)|
|Rain Without Thunder|
Rain Without Thunder Theatrical Poster
|Directed by||Gary O. Bennett|
|Produced by||Gary Sorensen
|Written by||Gary O. Bennett|
|Music by||Allen Lynch
|Editing by||Mallory Gottlieb
|Distributed by||Orion Classics|
|Release date(s)||February 5, 1993|
|Running time||85 minutes|
Rain Without Thunder is a 1992 movie directed by Gary O. Bennett and starring Betty Buckley and Jeff Daniels. The film is set fifty years in the future from the time of production. Although the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case is never mentioned by name, the decision took place in the same year as the film was made and many characteristics of the society portrayed are clearly a reaction to the growing possibilities of restricting abortion rights at the time of production. The movie is presented as a documentary about the Goldring case, a mother and daughter imprisoned at the Walker Point Center for seeking an abortion outside of the United States. Although Beverly (Betty Buckley) and Allison (Ali Thomas) are the main focus, the journalist (Carolyn McCormick) also interviews numerous people with varying viewpoints discussing the ramifications of the Goldring case and abortion in general in 2042 society.
Note: This plot summary is a linear account of the Goldrings' story. The movie itself does not reveal all plot details in order.
Allison Goldring, an upper-class, white college student, becomes pregnant with her boyfriend Jeremy Tanner (Steve Zahn). After discussing her options with both Tanner and her family, she makes the decision to travel abroad to terminate the pregnancy (p-term is the slang used), as abortion is considered murder in the United States. According to Allison and Beverley, everyone including Tanner supported her decision. Tanner later denies this, though the film makes his denial seem improbable. Allison's father and grandmother are interviewed and openly support both Allison and Beverly. Her father even says that he had intended to travel to Sweden with their two younger daughters as a vacation to disguise the purpose of the trip.
Unfortunately the state of New York has recently passed a law that classifies going abroad to seek a termination as "fetal kidnapping." Beverly admits to being aware of the change but assumed it would be some time before it would be enforced. It is not clear how aware Allison and Jeremy were of the legal change. The law, it transpires, is a reaction to a lawsuit aimed at overturning fetal murder statues because they are enforced almost exclusively against poor minority women. Examples of such women are interviewed at Walker Point (Ming-Na and Bahni Turpin). One had used some abortifacient called a "baby bomb." She was arrested as she bled out after improperly administering the drug. The other was arrested on suspicion of having a termination, which she hadn't, but did have an IUD, which is also illegal. Her descriptions of how she obtained the "uudee" suggest that she was also in a potentially dangerous medical situation.
African American district attorney Andrea Murdoch (Iona Morris) discovers what the Goldrings have done and prosecutes them under the new law, in large part because they are exactly the type of women targeted by the law. The criminal procedures show that doctor-patient confidentiality is no longer guaranteed. Murdoch's motivations are questioned by Jonathan Garson (Jeff Daniels), the Goldrings' attorney, who suggests she is seeking some higher office, although he doesn't question her ethics. Murdoch's own statements suggest that she is angered by the racial and class disparities in enforcement, but that she does not question the propriety of fetal murder law.
During the trial, Allison decides to take the stand and confesses to what she did. She does not express remorse at the time nor does she express any regret later. She says that she felt relieved to get everything out. Beverly and Garson are frustrated by her decision, since it condemn both Allison and Beverly to prison. At the end of the film, the Swedish clinic checks their pathology reports on Allison and determines that the fetus had been dead for almost three weeks prior to the procedure. The Goldrings are released, but Murdoch declares her intention to prosecute them on attempted fetal kidnapping, on the grounds that they had intended to commit the crime even if they had not be able to commit it.
Society in 2042 
The process of making abortion illegal is very gradual at first. Before 2000 or so, only four states had severely restricted abortion. According to several interviewees, the decade between 2000 and 2010 was marked by a very strong reaction against women's rights as well as a significant reduction of legal protections against search and seizure. One interviewee describes how the Supreme Court now allows general search warrants of neighborhoods and apartment buildings, all in reaction to "hypercrime." Two additional developments are cited as furthering pro-life agenda. The Catholic Church accepts barrier contraception, which both a pro-life and pro-choice character suggest, restores the Church's credibility on sexual issues since it is now possible for devout Catholics to prevent pregnancy. A second issue is the demographic squeeze caused by the aging of the population. All this leads to the Twentieth-eighth Amendment, which legally classifies a fetus as a person, and the restriction of abortion to early-term and only in the limited cases of threats to a mother's life and in cases of reported rapes. In both cases there are significant legal hurdles to overcome before the procedure can be performed. Chemical contraception appears to be illegal as well. Andrea Murdoch describes a procedure available in Europe similar to Norplant II (not FDA approved in 1992) but shows an ignorance of how chemical contraception works by calling it a "baby bomb," (that is, an abortifacient).
By 2042 feminism is virtually gone from the public consciousness. One character, a historian, declares that no woman's political movement has ever existed. Of the two characters who most closely match modern feminist thought, one is clearly suffering from dementia because of implied psychiatric abuse. The other is an elderly woman whose feminists beliefs are disregarded as impolitic by her younger colleague. That colleague, Linda Hunt, is the head of the Atwood Society (presumably a reference to author Margaret Atwood and her dystopic novel A Handmaid's Tale). Hunt's character repudiates the idea of universal abortion but is campaigning to protect women from fetal murder prosecution. She even describes having pregnant women declared legally incompetent and thus incapable of criminal intent. She admits this is a fiction but claims laws are often built on such fiction. The fact that a 2042 moderate or liberal activist in 2042 would campaign to have women declared mentally unfit to make decisions about their reproductive health is an ironic demonstration of how far attitudes have shifted by 2042.
The interviews take place indoors in offices, prisons, and homes. There is little indication of technological progress beyond hints at faster air travel (the trip to Sweden is said to take two hours) and improved neo-natal procedures (fetuses are said to be able to survive after only four months gestation).
Featured cast 
|Betty Buckley||Beverly Goldring|
|Katharine Crost||Walker Point Guard #1|
|Jeff Daniels||Jonathan Garson|
|Graham Greene||Author on History|
|Linda Hunt||Atwood Society Director|
|Robert Earl Jones||Old Lawyer|
|Ming-Na Wen||'Uudie' Prisoner (as Ming-Na Wen)|
|Iona Morris||Andrea Murdoch|
|Austin Pendleton||Catholic Priest|
|Ali Thomas||Allison Goldring|
|Steve Zahn||Jeremy Tanner|
|Alyssa Rallo Bennett||Max Sinclair|
|Heather Lilly||Micka Goldring|