Full disclosure, I have not seen Obvious Child, and have only read/heard a handful of detailed reviews, both positive and negative. However, this film appears to bring up some important questions and concerns for those of us who are pro-life and anti-abortion.
1. Planned Parenthood helped make this movie
As per the excellent reporting in Mother Jones magazine, PP reviewed the script, allowed filming at one of their clinics, and has praised the movie for showing an abortion followed by a happy un-mother. 1
2. The protagonist is obviously a child
Becoming pregnant after getting drunk and having a one night stand is certainly the hallmark of an immature person with little thought for their future. I’m sure the experience of pregnancy and abortion force you to grow up a little, but then again, aborting the consequences of sex, and ignoring the long term emotional and physical impacts of abortion, may cause a person to mature only a little.
In reality, having learned that you can avoid consequences will more likely lead to the thought that such behaviors can be engaged in ‘safely,’ or as the Washington Post summarizes:
“Obvious Child” dares to portray Donna’s decision in a way that’s serious and emotionally consequential but not fraught with crippling anxiety, shame or regret. 2
3. What is not obvious is that the OTHER child is murdered
I am not a hard core ‘legal personhood begins at conception’ conservative. I personally think that, even if life begins at conception, it is better to allow women 4-6 weeks to terminate what is arguably a highly underdeveloped embryo (I hear my fellow conservatives howling disapproval, but we can have that discussion separately).
I’m not sure how far along the child is in the movie, but let’s remember that she terminates a life to make her own life easier. Making that point non-obvious means this movie is more likely evil in trying to mainstream abortion than it is noble in showing that a woman who makes this choice can live guilt and consequence free, and ‘mature’ during the process.
4. Using comedy to mainstream unethical behavior
What’s next, a holocaust comedy? Wait, Mel Brooks has already done this – except that he was mocking the Nazi behavior, where here, comedy is used to take the edge off a serious decision. Are we dulling the consciences of viewers, or as Slate Magazine intones, are we allowing abortion survivors the ability to “come out ready to tell their own abortion stories.”? Probably both, in my opinion. 3
As a side note, not only is this movie using comedy to make abortion more tolerable, it uses profuse profanity and bodily function jokes to pull abortion into the realm of ‘normal’ young adult behaviors. As a marker of the protagonists immaturity, the use of profane fart jokes is well used. As a tool to normalize abortion, it is insidious. 4
5. We need an open forum for women to talk about abortion without fear
We do need to provide a way for the many victims of the abortion procedure (the living women, not the dead children, naturally) to talk about it openly without fear of attacks (“baby killer!”) or stigmatization. Many women harbor emotional wounds and guilt that need to be processed openly with those that care about them – without passing judgment or condoning their choices.
6. Women are victims, abortionists are murderers
Look, even if the women are complicit, it is the doctors who perform that act of abortion. I am all for the condemnation of these doctors as the villian, rather than the women. If there is a moral evil being done in abortion, then someone is guilty. I don’t care if their motives were noble, so were Stalin’s.
7. This movie is an attempt to change minds
For better or worse, this movie attempts to humanize women who choose abortion – and that is a good and bad thing. Good for the women, bad for a society still bent on ignoring the human rights of the unborn – their absence is conspicuously absent in liberal reviews of the movie:
I’m not sure I believe it’s possible for a single movie to effect large-scale political change, and even if it were, Obvious Child isn’t going to be that movie. But I think it has the potential to change individual minds, to make people understand that there are good women who have abortions for good reasons. 5
- Are the Director and Star of “Obvious Child” Concerned About Anti-Abortion Backlash?, Mother Jones (Asawin Suebsaeng) ↩
- ‘Obvious Child’ review, Washington Post (Ann Hornaday) ↩
- Obvious Child, Slate (Dana Stevens) ↩
- Jenny Slate, Gillian Robespierre on ‘Obvious Child,’ their abortion movie — with jokes, Washington Post (Rachel Dry) ↩
- Will ‘Obvious Child’ Change Anyone’s Mind About Abortion?, Flavorwire (Judy Berman) ↩