Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Portrait of a Rebel: The Remarkable Mrs. Sanger was written by Blanche Hanalis, a specialist in turning out quality teleplays with a feminist slant. Bonnie Franklin stars as pioneering birth-control advocate Margaret Sanger, who in the early part of the 20th century conducted a 25-year battle to have her views legitimized by the puritanical, male-dominated medical establishment. The film covers the years 1912 through 1917, starting with Sanger's work as a New York City public health nurse. Appalled by the deaths brought about by self-induced abortions, Sanger campaigns to enlighten uneducated "lower-class" women in the proper methods of birth control, eventually opening her own clinic. Her efforts are rewarded with public scorn, attacks from various censorship advocates (her informational pamphlets are deemed "pornographic") and frequent jail terms. In order to spice up an already fascinating story, the film places undue emphasis on the brief romance between Ms. Sanger and British sexual-liberation guru Havelock Ellis (Richard Johnson). Portrait of A Rebel might make a piquant double feature with the 1995 cable-TV Margaret Sanger biopic, which starred Dana Delany.
abortion, activism, birth-control, nurse, prison, women's-issues