Citizen Ruth (1996)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  13 December 1996 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 5,624 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 50 user | 42 critic | 18 from

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.


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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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Meet Ruth Stoops...One Bad Mother. 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?


Inspired by the true story of Martina Greywind and follows the details of her story fairly closely. Ms. Greywind was a 28 year-old homeless North Dakota woman addicted to drugs who was unaware she was pregnant, after having had six children taken by the state, until being arrested for publicly inhaling spray-paint fumes (this was changed to patio sealant, a fictional product, for the film) and was charged with endangering her unborn child. She was bailed out by the Lambs of Christ, who offered her $10,000 if she gave birth to the child, even if it were given up for adoption. Ultimately, she had the abortion, with the fee donated by a pro-choice organization and was driven over 100 miles to the nearest clinic. See more »


When Norm is lying next to Ruth on her bed, there is a change of camera. He moves his hand to the center of his chest in each camera shot. See more »


Rachel: Oh shit! A vigil.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Referenced in A Decade Under the Influence (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

A Very Acid Social Criticism of the American Society Hypocrisy Regarding the Abortion Theme
1 October 2004 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

Ruth (Laura Dern) is a young homeless glue-addicted street junkie, who is arrested again completely doped. The justice realizes that she is pregnant for the fifth time, and the judge offers her the option of an abortion. Ruth is released under the custody of a family and sooner she is involved in a pro-choice vs. pro-life (called 'The Babysavers') dispute. This is the first time I have seen this movie and it is a very acid social criticism of the American society hypocrisy regarding the abortion theme. The story does not spare any side, showing hypocrites persons on both sides. The pro-life are showed as religious fanatics and narrow-minded persons, the deranged family who lodges Ruth has a the father with sexual attraction in Laura and the mother a fanatic who does not see the behavior of her own daughter. The pro-choice group is showed as homosexual, but also faking a situation. In common, all of them are radicals hypocrites. And Ruth indeed is not caring whether she is going to have her fifth baby or not, abusing of drugs and alcohol and only interested in the money offered by both sides. And the rights of the citizen Ruth is the less important issue for both sides. Laura Dern has one of her best interpretations and in the very beginning of the movie, I did not recognize her. I believe she was not indicated for an Oscar due to the polemic theme of abortion. The performance of the cast and the direction are also excellent. My vote is seven, but maybe this movie deserves a better ranking after watching it for the second time.

Title (Brazil): 'Ruth em Questão' (Ruth in Question')

17 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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