Leona's Sister Gerri (1995)

Genres - Culture & Society, History  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Gender Issues, Social Issues, Women's Health  |   Run Time - 57 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Long ago, middle-aged Leona Gordon opened a Ms. magazine and saw the dead victim of a botched, illegal abortion. With a terrible shock she realized that the naked, blood-spattered corpse was her sister. This documentary examines the significance of the picture, and then offers a profile of the dead woman's life as told by Leona and her friends. Although shocking, the picture became an icon for pro-choice abortion activists. Her sister was Gerri Santoro born to a Connecticut farm family in the 1950s. She was pretty and vivacious and while in high school swore that she would find a husband before her best friend did. She ended up marrying Sebastian (Sam) Santoro and having two daughters by him. He was a violent-tempered man who frequently beat her. Later he moved his family to California in hopes that he could stop hurting her, but the abuse continued and Gerri finally took the children and returned to Connecticut. There she met and became sexually involved with the smooth-talking Clyde Dixon. She became pregnant, and because Sam was coming back for her, she decided to abort. But it was 1964 and abortions were illegal. It was Clyde who attempted to perform the operation in a motel room. By the time he finished, 28-year old Gerri was dead.



activism, abortion, death, magazine, motel, photograph, pro-choice, sister, spouse-abuse, victim