Recently, my wife and I saw Juno, the terrific film about a teenager who finds herself pregnant after her first sexual encounter and ends up carrying the baby to term and making an adoption plan. Since my wife and I adopted our two sons from birthmothers who chose not to get abortions and to place their sons in another family, the movie was more than a bit touching for us. (I cried twice in it--which is saying something, since the movie is hilarious).
While seeing the movie, I didn't give the issue of abortion too much thought. I guess that's because I don't give the issue much thought in general. It is such a polarizing issue that discussion about it is almost impossible. (I'm having second thoughts about writing this post as I'm typing these words just because of this fact.) Very little sensible is said about the issue, so I try to stay away from it.
I feel more than a bit conflicted about it. On the one hand, I'm a card-carrying liberal with a lot of white male guilt, so the last thing I want to do is tell a woman what to do with her body. On the other hand, I'm a father, because two women felt very strongly that abortion was wrong for them and made an adoption plan instead. On the other hand, that was their choice and who am I to say what is the right choice for someone else when it comes to such a personal and painful issue? On the other hand, even if I remain unconvinced that life begins at conception or even the first trimester or even beyond that--I'm not sure when it begins, I still believe the potential for life is there. I've counseled couples who grieved over a miscarriage and that grief was real--we did not have a funeral but we did grieve together. On the other hand, so many anti-abortion people are just so arrogant and mean and ridiculous--you want to stop abortion but you're against sex education and birth control! What's up with that? I could go on.
Back to Juno...the scene where Juno actually goes to an abortion clinic but thanks to a fellow high-schooler protesting alone outside who tells her that fetuses have fingernails, she changes her mind. It was a hilarious scene and brilliant--not because it was at all about politics, but because of the great acting and directing. In the movie, the story is so good and the acting so good and the production so good that there is no time to waste getting hung up on the abortion issue. The story is about this wonderfully strong-willed young girl who makes up her mind what is right for her and lets nothing step in her way. If there is anything to say about the movie in terms of its relationship to abortion the issue, it is that Juno makes the choice that is right for her, and she would not have judged someone else for making a different one.
Recently, anti-abortion folks have been making a fuss about Juno being a "pro-life" film. It seems more "pro-choice" to me, but then, I felt like the movie transcended this hellish debate which only allows you two options in terms of what to think and believe. As I said, when I saw the movie, abortion wasn't on my mind. The movie was just so good that I had no emotion to waste on an unending debate. As an adoptive father, I was just glad to see adoption portrayed in such a positive light.
I recommend the movie, just as long as you can leave your abortion politics at the theatre door.
Grace and Peace,
P.S. While I'm on the topic of abortion, which I hope not to be on again any time soon...I heard Randall Balmer interviewed on NPR about his new book God in the White House. Balmer teaches at Barnard and has written s ton of great stuff about evangelical Christianity. He described in fascinating detail how abortion became a political issue at the close of the 1970's. I was shocked to learn that no less than the Southern Baptist Convention passed resolutions in favor of legalizing abortion prior to Roe v. Wade. That must have been in some parallel universe.