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Citizen Ruth (1996)

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An irresponsible, drug-addicted, recently impregnated woman finds herself in the middle of an abortion debate when both parties attempt to sway her to their respective sides.


3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Diane Siegler
Norm Stoney
Dr. Charlie Rollins
Judge Richter
Nurse Pat
Jessica Weiss
Lance Rome ...
Ricky, Ruth's Lover
Jim Kalal ...
Tony Stoops
Shea Degan ...
Arresting Officer
Vince Morelli ...
Dr. George


Ruth Stoops is a poor indigent drug-user (a huffer - inhaling glue and paint for a high) whose down and out existence is complicated once more by becoming pregnant (she has had and lost four children already). When a judge orders that she gets an abortion or face a felony charge, she is befriended by Gail Stoney, a pro-lifer whose husband is president of the local "Babysavers" group. Suddenly Ruth is thrust into the middle of the pro-choice/pro-life struggle, with each side wanting her to take their side as a "message" to others - and the situation escalates... Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Life, liberty, money and the pursuit of happiness. She's gotta have it. See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for substance abuse, strong language and a sex scene | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

13 December 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Meet Ruth Stoops  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$26,709 (USA) (13 December 1996)


$153,155 (USA) (10 January 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


As of 2015, is the only Alexander Payne film not to be nominated for any Academy Awards. See more »


On the morning when Ruth is taken to have her abortion, no one notices the blood on the bed or her bloody hand print on the door. See more »


Rachel: It is always women like you who are most victimized by anti-choice: indigent women, third-world women, women of color.
Ruth: I'm not a colored woman!
See more »

Crazy Credits

About halfway through the credits, we hear the beginning of Tape 2, Side 1. See more »


References Citizen Kane (1941) See more »

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User Reviews

A fun satirization of the life-choice controversy
21 February 2001 | by (Orange County, CA USA) – See all my reviews

The title character of "Citizen Ruth" (Dern), an indigent and pregnant fume-head with a potty mouth and bad attitude, finds herself the unwitting cause of a clash of pro-choice and pro-abortion activists in this bitingly satirical look at the abortion issue in America. Dern makes an excellent centerpiece for this award winning comedy which mocks both sides of the life/choice controversy with a vanguard of comic stereotypes. "CR" should be an enjoyable and fun watch for those mature enough for strong language and not so brittle as to personalize the issues involved.

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