A Case for Life (1996) Valerie Bertinelli, Mel Harris, Georgann Johnson, Jenny O'Hara Movie Review

A Case for Life (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Valerie Bertinelli in A Case for Life (1996)

Kelly's Choice

Kelly Porter (Valerie Bertinelli) is a pro-lifer which often puts her at conflict with her sister, lawyer, Liz (Mel Harris) who is pro-choice and finds themselves on either side of the line when Liz escorts her clients to have abortions only to be met by her sister and friends trying to block her way. But the situation becomes complicated when the pregnant Kelly is diagnosed with a major heart condition which needs surgery and she is advised by her doctor to have an abortion so that they can proceed with the surgery. With her husband by her side Kelly refuses to have an abortion, putting her life at risk which leads to Liz taking the extreme decision to sure her sister for not taking the doctor's advice.

As two women drive to a clinic they are met by angry protestors, so angry that for a minute I thought "A Case for Life" was going to be a movie which condemned those who were pro-life and made them out to be almost terrorists in their anger. Fortunately after some uncomfortable scenes which to me seem over the top "A Case for Life" gets to the main story which is Kelly putting her own life in danger by not having an abortion or the surgery whilst her sister Liz finds she is initially alone in disagreeing with what she is doing. And it becomes this interesting movie about a woman's choice when it comes to her body and her baby.

Mel Harris in A Case for Life (1996)

But whilst I can applaud "A Case for Life" for tackling such a weighty subject it is one of those movies which does so using the sentimental notes of the story. As such we have the individual issues from Kelly's husband being supportive of his wife but in secret fears losing her whilst her father is angry at feeling helpless. In fairness there are a lot of aspects covered in "A Case for Life" but rather than going for the grit of the story it focuses more on the melodrama which whilst making it work for a daytime TV audience doesn't do the story justice.

There is a knock on effect of "A Case for Life" hitting too many sentimental notes and that is the acting of Valerie Bertinelli and Mel Harris frequently turns to how likeable they are. And both Bertinelli and Harris are likeable in their roles but it is all a bit lightweight in places when this movie screams out for more grit and realism.

What this all boils down to is that "A Case for Life" certainly presents an interesting story and an interesting idea as it explores what "choice" means. But it is a TV movie and it doesn't really deliver the grit which it needs to in order to be hard hitting.