Hollywood is the land of the beautiful and the contradicting. Oddly enough, it is only in this dimension where you will find someone more appalled with a teenager walking inside an abortion clinic than with torture flicks featuring chainsaws.
Over the years, however, we’ve seen a growth in the ways Hollywood handled the politics of abortion. The stigma is still there, but it now harbors truths. Abortion in Hollywood began as a conversation topic in dinner sequences to actually featuring a strong female lead confronted with an unplanned pregnancy and considering abortion as an alternative.
The rom-com Obvious Child (2014), a Sundance Film Festival entry, bagged international acclaim and the title “the most winning abortion-themed rom-com ever”. It starred Jenny Slate as Donna Stern, a stand-up comedienne who decides to have an abortion after a one-night stand.
She goes into the clinic, full of terror, with her best friend and with the man she slept with several weeks earlier, after he hands her a bouquet. While the central conflict revolves around the lead going for an abortion, the film is less about that and more about how that decision does not define her.
It is not an agenda-driven film, but a film that strives to humanize the experience. Also towards humanizing the tragedy of unplanned pregnancy and the miracle that comes with the opposite alternative is Juno (2007), which told the story of pregnant teen Juno MacGuff.
In Juno, one can see the dilemma that comes with the lead star. On the one hand, she recognizes she’s not yet ready to be a mother, but also doesn’t want to abort the baby, especially after a classmate points out the baby already has fingernails – not true.
Faced with the horror of raising a kid when she’s still puking Gulp into urns, Juno decides to find a family who would look at her situation as a blessing. She finds one and eventually, the teenager gives birth to the baby who will go to a loving adoptive mother.
Fetus fingernails aside, here’s what Hollywood’s gotten right with abortion: it is normal be scared, it’s an alternative one could consider, and it is not the only alternative to unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.