‘I Would Have Died’: See Artist Natalie White’s Heart-Wrenching Video for Planned Parenthood

The work is part of the women's health nonprofit's UNSTOPPABLE video series.

Natalie White, Snap. Photo courtesy of UNSTOPPABLE by Planned Parenthood.

Artist Natalie White has teamed up with Planned Parenthood to make the latest film in the non-profit’s UNSTOPPABLE series, an artist-driven campaign promoting the right to make decisions about one’s own body. White’s work, titled Why I Take Birth Control, makes a compelling case for birth control as a part of basic human health care, which is one of the tenants of the UNSTOPPABLE manifesto.

For White, it is also personal. Last December, while in Miami for Art Basel, she found herself “in a lot of pain. I thought I would lay down for a while and I would be fine. I woke up and there was an awful shooting pain across my stomach and up into my shoulder,” she told artnet News. “I was taken to the the emergency room and within three hours they had me opened up on a surgery table.”

The problem turned out to be several endometriotic cysts. “I would have died if I hadn’t gone into surgery that day,” White said. Her doctors prescribed birth control, which she had never previously taken, to help prevent internal bleeding and keep new cysts from forming.

“I wrote this because even though it’s something that was traumatic to me, sharing my story might help save the lives of other people” if they discover they can get treatment, like birth control, from Planned Parenthood, said White, who produced the work with filmmaker and videographer Rebecca Fay and released it just a day after National Birth Control Day. “I don’t think you can watch this video and not come away with the realization that Planned Parenthood has a very important role in saving lives and providing women with the health care that they need.”

Planned Parenthood enlisted Tanya Selvaratnam to serve as the executive producer of UNSTOPPABLE ART, which has produced 12 artist-directed films illustrating the UNSTOPPABLE manifesto.

UNSTOPPABLE ART executive producer Tanya Selvaratnam originally approached 10 artists to participate in the campaign and “everyone I reached out to said yes,” she told artnet News. The project also includes a digital exhibition of other artworks and writings by women artists including Zoe Buckman, Chitra Ganesh, Favianna Rodriguez, Carrie Mae Weems, Natalie Frank, Teresita Fernandez, and Shirin Neshat. There are currently more than 30 artists involved.

White’s film is the sixth in the series, and is accompanied by her large-format Polaroid photograph Snap. “Natalie’s video expands our consciousness about why people need and take birth control,” said Selvaratnam, who is also considering a theatrical presentation of all 12 films before the campaign’s end.

Despite Planned Parenthood’s polarizing role in contemporary partisan debates, Selvaratnam doesn’t view UNSTOPPABLE as a political campaign. “I think that equality and access to healthcare is a message that everyone can get behind,” Selvaratnam said. “Artists can create content to inspire people to change the world, and they can reach people’s emotions more effectively than a speech can. I feel this coalition between artists and movements is vital during these difficult times.”

“We claim to be the country of freedom and equality, but we’re still debating what women can do with their bodies,” White said. “Men are out there legislating and making laws about things they don’t understand and will never experience.”

Watch the video below. 

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