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It's no secret I'm pro-life. I've written from a pro-life angle here and here. Most recently, I was honored when "Rachel" asked me to help share her story of abortion regret, the sad tale of a child who was failed by the adults around her, then grew into a woman with remorse. So when my fellow writer Galit Breen reached out to me for a pro-life opinion on the film Obvious Child, I wasn't at all surprised. What did surprise me as I was researching the movie though was the tactless and crude way in which Huffington Post's Emma Gray covered the movie.
It's just a rom-com, with a side order of abortion
If you aren't familiar with Obvious Child, it is being billed as a romantic comedy starring Jenny Slate. It's based on a 2009 short film by Gillian Robespierre, who both writes and directs. It's won much critical acclaim, including the Red Crown Producer's Award at the Sundance Film Festival. According to IMDb, Obvious Child is about aspiring 20-something stand-up comedian Donna Stern, who "gets dumped, loses her job, and finds herself pregnant just in time for Valentine's Day." She then has to "navigate the murky waters of independent adulthood for the first time" as she "begins to discover that the most terrifying thing about adulthood isn't facing it all on her own. It's allowing herself to accept the support and love of others." Ultimately "Donna finds out along the way what it means to be as brave in life as she is on stage." And by "being brave" they mean being brave enough to have an abortion. Because clearly aborting a child takes far more courage than birthing it.
Yes, I hate the idea of the movie
I could write ad nauseam about my distaste of the premise of the movie and the media that's fawning over it. I could quote Rolling Stone, who described a "hilarious" scene in which, prior to Donna starting a stand-up set the night before her abortion her best friend says, "You're going to kill it," and Donna replies with, "Tomorrow I am" as they "unravel in sheepish giggles." I could mention how this movie, which is being applauded by The New York Times as "never veering from its righteous feminism," was directed by a woman completely proud of the fact that her heroine never once considers carrying her child to term. All of this is offensive to me and makes me sad for the overall state of the pro-choice movement in America.
I hate Gray's review more
But what I found truly repugnant was Gray's covering of the film. Clearly she and I don't see eye to eye on the right-to-life issue, but there could have been a tad more tact and couth used while discussing such a sensitive topic. Gray starts out by saying romantic comedies are "alive and well — and about abortion." Alive and well? It's a movie about abortion, and while that phrase may have not been given much consideration, it's pretty ironic considering one of the main characters — Donna's unborn child — most certainly is not "alive and well" by the end of the film.
Depictions of abortions are apparently biased
Gray goes on to discuss how flawed movies and TV are with regard to the mortality rate of those considering abortions. She references this study and this study, both of which were conducted by pro-choice organizations. While Gray is happy to cite the statistic that 14 percent of all fictitious women who consider abortion end up dead, what she fails to mention is the finding that over 55 percent of these fictitious woman also ended up aborting. More than half of women characters in film and on television who consider termination are aborting their children, and yet that isn't noteworthy. Instead, the implication is that media is depicting abortion wrong.
Abortion isn't traumatizing?
Next, Gray states "despite what many on-screen abortion narratives suggest, the decision is not traumatizing — or even life-changing — for all (or most) women." She references a few studies which I wasn't able to fully access, about which I would argue this: You aren't likely to have people ashamed and/or traumatized of/by their prior abortions pony up to a research study to discuss them. Just Google "abortion trauma statistics" and you can choose from a bevy of links with detailed information on the emotional toll pregnancy termination has on a woman. If post-abortive trauma is the exception and not the norm, why are organizations such as Project Rachel, which exclusively provides help and healing to those suffering from post-abortive trauma, (very sadly) thriving?
A baby = s***
Then Gray compliments Obvious Child, saying, "The acknowledgement that s*** happens, and then you deal with it — sometimes that s*** being unintended pregnancy and abortion being the way a woman chooses to deal with it — is what Obvious Child gets so very right." Wow. First you have Sarah Silverman referring to an unborn child as "just goo" and now a HuffPo writer is referring to a pregnancy (and the baby it produces) as "s***." I don't even think there is a way to rationalize with people who aren't willing to see the product of a pregnancy as what it is — a living human being.
"Real women" have abortions
Gray ends her article with a quote from NARAL Pro-Choice president Ilyse Hogue: "Finally. Real stories about real women making decisions. Why does this feel so revolutionary?" Gray's response? "It feels revolutionary because it is. A romantic comedy may not be able to change the whole world — but it's a damn good start." The implication from Hogue that previous story lines depicting women questioning their decision to abort, wavering in their decision and even deciding to carry their child to term as not being a "real story" about a "real woman" is disingenuous at best and a bold lie at worst. Real women come in all shapes and sizes, with all sorts of opinions, making all sorts of decisions. But to follow it up with calling Obvious Child revolutionary is, to me, surprising.
There's no need to rub salt in the wound
The truth is the pro-choice movement is winning the battle on all media fronts. To be pro-life in the mainstream media is, for the most part, a death sentence. It certainly isn't something to openly declare. Most media outlets, networks and production companies seem to prefer to report from the pro-choice perspective, championing the cause for pro-choice when the option occurs. For evidence of this, look at what happened when Wendy Davis filibustered in the Texas senate. Look at the movement to replace "pro-life" with "anti-choice," as if we want to deny women their right to make their own selections on anything. And look at the overwhelming media response to Obvious Child. Gray isn't alone in her opinion. I just wish she would have shown a little more class when she stated it.