Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

16 December 2007

Does abortion belong in a love story?

Abortion has been discussed a lot on the blogosphere this year, mostly surrounding recent USSC rulings and movies like Knocked Up, Waitress, and Juno. The latter has most intrigued me. Not because I'm not interested in what 8 men in dresses say I should do with my womb, but because I think that pop culture can push and pull society in certain directions despite what the men in dresses say.

The biggest critique of the movies (note: I corrected the link. Sorry!) is that while abortion is discussed (whether for a second or more), the pregnant woman ends up not having an abortion. And for some reason this is a problem for some pro-choice bloggers. And of course, the anti's jump at this plot device as a reason to dub the film "pro-life." (Many anti's held this opinion of Sugar and Spice as well.) In my opinion, I think both are pretty wrong. I find more fault with Knocked Up at showcasing women as stick-in-the-muds who need a slacker lover to get them to wake up and smell the roses. It plays into the theory that men mature with marriage or fatherhood. If the dude isn't mature on your wedding day, keep waiting until he is, k?

But all this made me stop and think about how stories are crafted. Can a good love story be crafted where the couple goes through an abortion? Dirty Dancing had one, but it wasn't central to the love story.

Alison Piepmeier's essay in Skirt! Magazine claims that it can because it is central to her personal love.

But given the comments that her essay elicited can a successful romance movie be made with abortion as a major plot point? Can we see people lining up to pay $10 each to see a movie where the couple is struggling, the woman is found crying in their bedroom with a positive EPT in her hand, and their love is strengthened by a visit to their Planned Parenthood? Or where a fairy tale romance between Maurice & Susana is rolling along and BAM! a missed period throws them off course...temporarily. On their flight to Harvard Law School, Susana pops the first of her abortion pills. Kinda like Say Anything but instead of waiting for the ding, they wait for drink service.

I think it can be made. I'm just not sure if people would line up to see it. Then again, what if we framed it as a movie like Knocked Up where the slacker dude and the uptight woman both want the abortion and he is free to slack another day AND fall in love. Ok, maybe that last part was taking it too far.

I really want to see Juno because the trailer really wrapped itself around my heart. I do think that there are more plot devices in choosing to carry a pregnancy to term. How does a woman on the brink of busting out keep up that momentum after becoming a mother? How does a woman carry on after giving up their child for adoption? Can we have the same thoughts in a pro-choice movie about an abortion without giving in to anti-myths such as post-abortion syndrome?

I hope so. I know I won't be writing that screenplay, so I'll be waiting. If anyone does accomplish it, give me a buzz.

Technorati tags: Knocked Up, Waitress, Juno, feminist, abortion, pro-choice, Piepmeier, Skirt! Magazine

5 comments:

I think the problem is that people see pregnancy + baby as being the culmination of love, where as pregnancy + abortion is seen as the result of a fling or a mistake. Clearly, a vast majority of women who get pregnant and have an abortion were not intending to get pregnant. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the woman doesn't love her partner. There's a cultural myth that the eventual goal of heterosexual love is having children. For heterosexual women to love their sexual partner and still have an abortion doesn't fit into that myth. In fact, abortion is always seen as a tragedy -- something that no woman would do if only she was with the right man. But the fact of the matter is that some women just don't want children. Or some women just don't want children at the time that they get pregnant.

Back to the original question, though: can abortion play a major role in a romantic movie plot? It could, though I'm not sure how many ways the story could be written. I'd like to point out that an abortion played a major role in the love story between Cristina and Burke on Grey's Anatomy. Well, she was going to have an abortion, but ended up having a miscarriage, and Sandra Oh has since spoken out about how the network forced this change. But the fact is that it was very clear that she was going to have an abortion and would have if given the chance. This was something that Burke had to come to terms with and that made their relationship stronger (well . . . until the end of season 3, anyway).

I think that you could similarly show abortion bringing a couple together where the male is directly involved with taking the woman to the clinic, waiting with her and taking care of her afterwards with the cramping and bleeding, with this being the point at which he realizes how much he truly cares for and loves his partner. Just a thought . . . I'm not a screenplay writer :)

Ha, okay, so HTML doesn't work in the name field. Fucking blogger and their commenting changes :/

interesting idea. i have to say, from my deep pit of cynicism and despair, that no, there's no chance of seeing an abortion and a love story intertwined on film - at least during our lifetime.

and i think you're right about both sides being kinda wrong, i can't deny that i have a bit of a knee-jerk dislike of all these "i thought about abortion, but decided against it" pics - i worry that, given our media-saturated and media-frenzied society, people will be able to spin these few instances out into a cultural "thing". because, as you pointed out, the antis are already trying to do it.

Sadly, I don't think we'll see abortion and a love story intertwined. Perhaps people are too frightened to see the backlash that will occur with anti-choice extremists.

Even the movie Dogma had the religious extremist protesters when it was being released--Even though Kevin Smith thought it was great and joined them in saying how horrible the movie was, even though they hadn't seen it and certainly did not know that Kevin Smith himself is a practicing Catholic.

Politics and religion are the two most controversial topics and a movie portraying abortion is a positive light would definitely be a much-protested film. However, I'll be waiting for a film maker ballsy enough to take it on.

Oh, yes Dogma! I don't know if people were more upset that Alanis was God or that God was a woman.