The pro-lifing of America
A Gallup poll from last year reported that Americans are becoming more pro-life. In 2009, Gallup found that more Americans identified themselves as pro-life than as pro-choice for the first time since Gallup began the survey in 1995. News came out last week that abortion clinics are closing at an “unprecedented rate.” Today, the U.K.’s DailyMail published a photo essay of women describing their “harrowing decision to have abortion.” A heavily pregnant woman in LA is catching flack for over-exercising and risking the well-being of the life growing inside her.
“Is it a life or not?” has long since been dismissed as the pro-choice argument. Thanks to science and technology, abortion advocates can no longer play the “blob of tissue” card. The thing is, as this revolting piece from Salon.com revealed a few months ago, the pro-choicers are finally showing their true colors: “So what if it’s a life?” wrote Mary Elizabeth Williams.
This being said, I have noticed a surprising and encouraging trend in American culture that points to a broader, more mainstream acceptance of the pro-life position. It’s coming from our friends in Hollywood.
Juno, the Canadian-American comedy-drama, made a splash in 2007 as it was both wildly successful and pro-life in its message. When teenager Juno MacGuff discovers she is pregnant, she considers aborting her child, but ultimately decides to give him up for adoption. The film shows Juno talking to her baby in the womb and experiencing the joy of his first kicks.
Also in 2007 premiered a lesser-known film, Bella, which chronicled the decision of a low-income waitress’ decision to keep her baby, and how family can be a saving grace.
Two more recent movies, What to Expect When You’re Expecting and Friends with Kids, also explore the impact of conception, birth, and new life. They aren’t films I would watch again (they were instant watch on Netflix…), but their message was clearly: “being pregnant means you have a living baby inside of you, and all the responsibility and joy that comes with parenthood.”
What to Expect chronicles four couples in different stages and situations of life, and how having a child impacts them. One of the more memorable story lines is that of a pair in their early twenties who discover they have conceived a child after an alcohol-infused one night stand. “What to do” is the frantic next question, and after ruling out abortion, the friends form a bond that is hopeful and happy. The girl ends up miscarrying her child, and is distraught beyond words at losing her “blob of tissue.”
Another blatant portrayal of the brilliance of life in What to Expect comes when a woman who has been trying to conceive for years finds out she is finally pregnant. She runs to the pool where her husband is swimming and jumps in to share the happy news and hug and kiss him with profound elation.
Friends with Kids recounts the influence having a child has on friendship, maturity, and relationships. Two friends decide that they want to create and raise a child together, foregoing all the “strings attached” that come about with marriage and commitment. The moral of the story is that a child is a unifying force whose life brings and creates love.
I’m not sure if abortion has ever been portrayed in the movies as particularly glamorous or inconsequential. It seems always to have carried with it the stigma of desperation, reticent shame, or, in the very least, a dirty secret. Pro-lifers are used to interpreting the message of life in literature and film, and gleaning what positive scraps they can from the culture of death. Now, though, it would appear that Hollywood is not ashamed to celebrate the beauty of life. Whether or not Hollywood influences culture more than society drives Hollywood to determine the message of its projects is hard to tell, but with the pro-life message, the American people are jumping on board.