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Five Characters Reject Abortion in a Cultural Shift in Movies

Rick Santorum

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I begin this new year with greater hope for our culture. That is saying something, given our pop culture's violence, gratuitous coarseness, hyper-commercialism, and obsession with sex and celebrity. I can sympathize with parents who are increasingly tempted to gather their children and retreat to the catacombs. But don't head down there just yet. This last year saw something that we should take heart in.

No, it wasn't the American public's stout rejection of a slew of anti-American "war on terror" movies such as Redacted and Rendition. The most encouraging news was quieter and more life-affirming.

If art is a reflection of our culture, our culture - and particularly our youth culture - is awaking to the reality of life in the womb. You hear it in Nick Cannon's autobiographical single "Can I live?" You see it in the stunning episode of the television show House where Dr. Gregory House's finger is grasped by a baby in the womb during intrauterine surgery. The recognition of the life in the womb is going mainstream.

But the biggest shift came at the movies. In a nation with one of the world's most wide-open abortion regimes, U.S. audiences flocked to see five motion pictures with life-affirming texts or subtexts: Knocked Up, Waitress, Bella, August Rush and Juno.

In these movies, abortion was urged on women facing an unplanned pregnancy, and rejected. Ultrasound images awakened characters and audiences to the humanity of the unborn. Having a baby, even in the most challenging circumstances, became the compelling "choice." Adoption was held up as a positive alternative to abortion. And, unlike the news media's portrayal of pro-lifers, protesters outside abortion clinics were authentically depicted as warm and concerned. This stood in contrast to the indifference of the staff within.

These movies came from four different companies (Waitress and Juno are Fox Searchlight movies) and right out of our pop culture. Given the degraded state of that culture, this sometimes comes at a price when it comes to a movie's language, humor, and the treatment of sexual relations. Bella is a gentle celebration of family and adoption amid an unplanned pregnancy. August Rush is a PG-rated look at the gut-wrenching consequences of an out-of-wedlock affair. But Knocked Up, Waitress and Juno are most certainly hip-deep in today's bawdy mainstream culture.

Read the entire article on the Ethics and Public Policy Center website (new window will open).

Posted: 12-Jan-08



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