January 27, 2008


A choice that films ignore: Hollywood heroines who don't consider abortion are of a generation taking its rights for granted (Hadley Freeman, January 28, 2008, The Guardian)

At a screening I went to recently, one of the biggest laughs came when the lead character, a pregnant 16-year-old, asked for an abortion. Now let me say that, despite what the above might suggest, I liked the film. But after Waitress and Knocked Up, Juno (which received a best picture Oscar nomination last week) completes a hat-trick of American comedies in the past 12 months that present abortion as unreasonable, or even unthinkable - a telling social sign.

Each of these films presents situations where women do not consider abortion as a feasible possibility and dismiss it - as something that is portrayed in Knocked Up as the act of selfish women who don't want a swelling belly to impede their clubbing.

Babies 'feel pain before 24-week abortion limit' (Rosa Prince, 28/01/2008. Daily Telegraph)

Babies in the womb can feel pain from an early stage of development, according to research by the world's leading expert on foetal pain.

Prof Sunny Anand of the University of Arkansas will present his report into foetal pain to MPs discussing changes to abortion law on Monday night.

His research concludes that the part of a baby's brain that can feel pain develops before the legal abortion limit of 24 weeks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 27, 2008 9:13 PM

To be effective, creative storytelling has to bear at least a tangential (although frequently distorted) relationship to the truth.

The truth is that having an abortion is not the same as undergoing an appendectomy. Furthermore, everybody knows this. Even a pro-abortion film like "The Cider House Rules" couldn't present it as an objective good in all circumstances: They needed to have the main characters argue about it and then had to present a bunch of trying circumstances almost never seen in real life before it was resorted to.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 28, 2008 1:17 AM

A really, really dumb inquiry. Of course the unborn feel pain: the live bait we use for fishing feel pain. If the unborn were somehow totally anesthecized before killing the act would still be baby-murder.

Can we see the ground of this error? The question of fetal pain is not about the unborn, only about how the actor feels about the death of the unborn.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 28, 2008 5:14 AM

This is an odd criticism of Juno, in which abortion is presented very much as a woman's (actually, girl's) choice. Juno doesn't choose an abortion, which is good from the point of view of the plot, but that's what this criticism boils down to: not that choice is good, but that abortion is good.

What's really notable is that two of the three movies, Waitress and Juno, are indie movies. Obviously, the zeitgeist is moving. Juno, in particular, gets the zeitgeist exactly right on a number of points: everyone knows that the thing inside a womb is called a "baby;" Chinese immigrant Christianity; and that a generation that doesn't view Roe as a symbol of women's political empowerment is likely to be anti-abortion.

Posted by: Ibid at January 28, 2008 9:20 AM

I think the major generational change is that for those born after Roe vs Wade, we had a keen sense that we ourselves could potentially have been aborted. Of course, as small children we were oblivious, but once we were in our pre-teens and the topic came up, the natural attitude is to see it from the perspective of the child, not the mother. Even after we become sexualized and formed political views, we retain that sense of horror so even those who are pro-choice do not see abortion as a morally void issue.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at January 28, 2008 11:22 AM

Chris has made a very good point. I shall never forget the look on my son's face when I answered his questions about what abortion was. He was old enough to know, I had judged, and he had heard something about it, probably in school.

The look was of sheer disgust and horror. My Kev was no puss--he is career military now. His revulsion was so deep as to be wrenchihg for me to witness. There was that horror, with a moment of exposure to pure evil, as in the film, Sophie's Choice

Chris really nailed it. My son had clear memories of his mother's pregnancies with his siblings, and he understood the enormity of the Kindermord. My Kev was no puss--he is career military now, a Ja-sager by profession. I was sorry that he had to face the horror then, but proud that he did so.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 28, 2008 7:01 PM

Man, Franklin was right. Let the Germans in and they'll never assimilate and give up their language.

Posted by: Ibid at January 28, 2008 7:36 PM

Ibid, are you referring to "Kindermord" or "wrenchihg"? :-)

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at January 28, 2008 9:39 PM