Where's the Abortion?

Two box office successes this summer, Waitress and Knocked Up, feature main characters that are pregnant.  Both are unmarried.  Both are less than thrilled with their pregnancies.  Both have their babies.

Somehow this is a problem for The Washington Post film critic Ann Hornaday, who wrote in her July 15 piece, “It's a setup that has some viewers, especially women who came of age in a post-Roe v. Wade America, wondering just what world these movies are living in.”

Well, Ann, they're living in the modern day world where the number of out-of-wedlock births among 20- and 30-something women is dramatically up, according to a poll conducted by Pew Research.  Just look at Brangelina, if you want to see what that looks like in real life. 

Hornaday's piece basically makes the point that because the word “abortion” isn't even mentioned, because the characters in these two movies never consider (on screen) the “option” of abortion, that somehow the movies are flawed and represent Hollywood's “moral hypocrisy.”  Her argument?  According to Hornaday, the characters who find themselves pregnant in these movies should be morally repugnant to the presumably conservative audiences for whom Hollywood has excised the abortion option. 

To further the inane argument, Hornaday quotes New York Press film writer Jennifer Merin, who is also the president of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. Merin says, “I think it's shocking that the subject of abortion as a choice has been so eliminated from the discussion.”  That the topic isn't “even on the table” supposedly undermines, according to Merin, “anyone's claim that Hollywood has a liberal agenda.”

Hey, Jennifer.  Did you see Brokeback Mountain?  Hollywood's liberal agenda hangs on a whole lot more than two pregnant characters, whose very pregnancies are the crux of the movie plots.

For Hornaday, who cites Dana Stevens from the liberal online magazine Slate, classic, brave abortion storylines include the subplot in Dirty Dancing where one of the supporting characters has an abortion (and nearly dies from it, but she doesn't mention that part).  There's also the “fearless” Citizen Ruth, described as a “scathingly funny satire about abortion politics.” 

Yeah, “abortion” and “funny” go together really well.

Hornaday and other feminist, pro-abortion journalists just can't fathom a world – the real world – where some people, regardless of marital status, will choose to exercise personal responsibility and carry a pregnancy to term.  Will choose to give birth to the human being growing within them.  Will choose life. 

Lots of people are doing it, Ann.  In the real world and in the movies. 

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.