Choosing Your Stories

 

Hollywood is a place of endless stories.

Part of what @davesussman does at Whiskey Politics is cover movie premieres when we get the chance, and the other night Dave and I met at the TLC Chinese 6 (formerly Grauman’s Chinese theater in Hollywood) for the red carpet premiere of Unplanned. The film opens with an emotionally shocking gut punch, then unravels the true story of Abby Johnson, the young director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. UPDATE: Dave Sussman talks about the emotional impact of the movie on radio.

It’s a film that needs to be digested over a period of time. I’ve never had an abortion, never been in a “crisis” pregnancy, and have never even set foot inside a Planned Parenthood clinic. Much of what was explored in the film is beyond my personal experience but rings true with my friends’ stories about their abortions.

For as long as I can remember, abortion has not been discussed unless you are seated comfortably either from a position of “women’s right to choose” or “life begins at conception”. If you follow the logic consistently, you are left either with babies who have life rights conferred by virtue of being “wanted” by the mother, or that abortion is always murder.

That human rights are conferred to a child only by the mother at a time of her choosing is the left’s definition of a woman’s right to choose, but that repugnant conclusion is seldom explicitly stated. Arguments for pro-life can fly out the window when a 12-year-old child becomes pregnant if a fetus is diagnosed with a disease like tay-sachs, or when the mother’s life is truly endangered, as with an ectopic pregnancy. It’s difficult to have conversations about abortion because, in the end, you can only agree that nobody wants one, but rarely, they are necessary to save life.

Unplanned is based on the true story of a woman who has experienced all sides of the controversy; as a patient, then as an abortion center director (who believes she can thread the needle of “safe, but rare” abortion policy), and finally as a pro-life activist. Her shattering, painful epiphany is the conclusion of a journey along the bloody path of the death industry and the culture and profit motive that accompany it.

I asked a friend who is a famed pundit about what he thought left-leaning movie reviewers would report about it. “Nothing”, he said. “They’ll ignore it because they don’t want anyone to know.” As always, our concept of truth is based on the stories we choose to listen to; because I wasn’t feeling well, I was tempted to leave after the red carpet interviews were complete, but I’m grateful Dave convinced me to stay for the film.

 

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  1. Stina Member
    Stina
    @CM

    I’ve had 2 crisis pregnancies. Both were unplanned. The first was out of wedlock with a guy I had been dating for only a few months. The second was unwanted and nearly destroyed our marriage. They are alive and kicking. (Same guy, married for 10 years now)

    While going through it, I could understand why someone without the moral stubbornness I had would choose abortion, especially with the added complication of HG (www.hyperemesis.org).

    or when the mother’s life is truly endangered, as with an ectopic pregnancy. It’s difficult to have conversations about abortion, because in the end, you can only agree that nobody wants one, but rarely, they are necessary to save life.

    I do not consider these abortions. It is a non-viable pregnancy that, when not dealt with, results in death of both. It isn’t a “the baby could live” situation. It is a pregnancy that kills both mother & child.

    • #1
  2. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen
    @DuaneOyen

    One reason that the Right has a hard time dealing with a coherent position on abortion is because it gets too wrapped up in getting the definition of “pro-life” exactly correct. It seems to me that you should be acknowledged as pro-life if:

    1. You unequivocally accept that a pregnancy exists at some time during the first month, no matter what your theological views are
    2. You acknowledge that when there is a pregnancy, there is a pre-born baby involved- in other words, no nonsense about “unviable tissue matter”, the fetus is human life
    3. You believe that the law should protect the fetus, no matter what, after the first trimester (essentially the European standard) unless there is a necessity- as verified by more than one medical caregiver- to choose between the life of the mother and continuing the pregnancy.

    Regarding #1, there is so much energy poured into trying to know and persuade people of the explicitly unknowable- when does the fertilized ovum become human life? People on our side spend a lot more time arguing about life genesis at fertilization versus at implantation than they do trying to persuade the world that human life needs to be protected. It seems to me that we should use less energy trying to accomplish the impossible- getting the political system to encode our theological preference into law- and more trying to reduce the incidence of abortion.

    If you want to kill your baby, sometimes we grit our teeth and allow you to do so; just don’t try to kid us that it is not a baby, at the latest after successful implantation. And God will judge those who so choose, while taking loving care of the victims.

     

    • #2
  3. Melissa Praemonitus Member
    Melissa Praemonitus
    @6foot2inhighheels

    Stina (View Comment):
    I do not consider these abortions. It is a non-viable pregnancy that, when not dealt with, results in death of both. It isn’t a “the baby could live” situation. It is a pregnancy that kills both mother & child.

    I agree. I think that I was trying to pick an example that that fit in with my assertion that abortion is sometimes the only choice, and one of the rare times people can agree.

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):
    If you want to kill your baby, sometimes we grit our teeth and allow you to do so; just don’t try to kid us that it is not a baby, at the latest after successful implantation. And God will judge those who so choose, while taking loving care of the victims.

    I think the film did a great job of portraying pro-life protestors, even including a couple of obnoxious guys, and a news reports of a slain abortion doctor. The message was, “If you want to kill your unborn child, we can’t stop you; but we will never stop trying to lovingly help you find a way to save your child. In no way does the movie claim to represent all clinics or all protestors. It is a story about one woman’s experience with the the frank profit motives behind abortion and how it creates an atmosphere of callus disregard for babies and the health of the mothers.

    When I was a teen, the growing industry of “family planing” which would eventually start a side business in selling baby parts, routinely lied to us about “undifferentiated cells”, and how giving birth was actually more dangerous than having an abortion.

    There will be two audiences for this film; Pro-life folks who will learn that their efforts, properly channeled, can be incredibly effective at changing the culture, and people like me, pro-life, but surprised and horrified by the level of moral corruption in the industry.

    • #3
  4. Shauna Hunt Inactive
    Shauna Hunt
    @ShaunaHunt

    Stina (View Comment):

    I’ve had 2 crisis pregnancies. Both were unplanned. The first was out of wedlock with a guy I had been dating for only a few months. The second was unwanted and nearly destroyed our marriage. They are alive and kicking. (Same guy, married for 10 years now)

    While going through it, I could understand why someone without the moral stubbornness I had would choose abortion, especially with the added complication of HG (www.hyperemesis.org).

    or when the mother’s life is truly endangered, as with an ectopic pregnancy. It’s difficult to have conversations about abortion, because in the end, you can only agree that nobody wants one, but rarely, they are necessary to save life.

    I do not consider these abortions. It is a non-viable pregnancy that, when not dealt with, results in death of both. It isn’t a “the baby could live” situation. It is a pregnancy that kills both mother & child.

    I had severe hyperemesis during my second pregnancy. I was on a PICC line for seven months. My son was premature by a month. If I had gone another week, both of us would have died. After that, I had to relearn how to eat. I’m happy to say that my son is mostly healthy and strapping 14 year old. He’s 5’10” and stocky.

    • #4
  5. Melissa Praemonitus Member
    Melissa Praemonitus
    @6foot2inhighheels

    Shauna Hunt (View Comment):
    I had severe hyperemesis during my second pregnancy. I was on a PICC line for seven months. My son was premature by a month. If I had gone another week, both of us would have died. After that, I had to relearn how to eat. I’m happy to say that my son is mostly healthy and strapping 14 year old. He’s 5’10” and stocky.

    Interestingly, Abby Johnson suffered from severe morning sickness during her first trimester while working at the abortion clinic, and reported that clinic personnel “joked” that they could “take care of it” for her. I fear for a culture that overvalues comfort and ease. Your perseverance through what must have been extremely traumatic, is a testament to your love.

    • #5
  6. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    How is it from a movie standpoint? Beyond making an important statement, is it a well made film?

    • #6
  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):
    It seems to me that we should use less energy trying to accomplish the impossible- getting the political system to encode our theological preference into law- and more trying to reduce the incidence of abortion.

    Theology is irrelevant. There is no rational basis for considering the being after fertilization anything other than a human person in the earliest stage of development. A baby born after a 9-month pregnancy is no more independent of thought or survival than a “fetus” in the first days on development.

    I’m not careless of the practical strategy to reduce the frequency of baby killing while it remains legal. But it’s one thing to emphasize easier arguments for practical effect and another thing to withhold more difficult truths because they are unpopular. Indulgence of lies, errors, and ignorance does not seem an acceptable path toward justice.

    If that is unrealistic idealism, then I hope other advocates for life have more success.

    • #7
  8. Melissa Praemonitus Member
    Melissa Praemonitus
    @6foot2inhighheels

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    How is it from a movie standpoint? Beyond making an important statement, is it a well made film

    I thought so. It didn’t have the kind of budget that blockbuster movies have, but was lovingly made, and it shows.

    • #8
  9. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Melissa Praemonitus (View Comment):

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    How is it from a movie standpoint? Beyond making an important statement, is it a well made film

    I thought so. It didn’t have the kind of budget that blockbuster movies have, but was lovingly made, and it shows.

    Good to hear. Sometimes you can tell you are watching a “Christian” movie just by the quality of it. They have, in my opinion, gotten much better in the past few years as people are realizing that Christian and conservative movies can be profitable.

    • #9
  10. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Melissa Praemonitus (View Comment):
    Interestingly, Abby Johnson suffered from severe morning sickness during her first trimester while working at the abortion clinic, and reported that clinic personnel “joked” that they could “take care of it” for her.

    The fact someone could joke about an abortion in a cavalier fashion makes me sick . . .

    • #10
  11. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Stad (View Comment):

    Melissa Praemonitus (View Comment):
    Interestingly, Abby Johnson suffered from severe morning sickness during her first trimester while working at the abortion clinic, and reported that clinic personnel “joked” that they could “take care of it” for her.

    The fact someone could joke about an abortion in a cavalier fashion makes me sick . . .

    Yeah, but if that is what you do for a living . . .

    • #11

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