National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

MEDIA & SOCIETY | Newsweek Examines Portrayal of Unintended Pregnancies, Abortion in Recent Films

MEDIA & SOCIETY | Newsweek Examines Portrayal of Unintended Pregnancies, Abortion in Recent Films
[Dec. 7, 2007]

Newsweek's Jennie Yabroff in the magazine's Dec. 10 issue examined the movie "Juno," in which a 16-year-old girl seeks an abortion after becoming pregnant unexpectedly, and other movies featuring characters who have unintended pregnancies. According to Yabroff, "Juno" is the "only film in recent history in which the protagonist seriously considers termination" of the pregnancy. The movie differs from a number of prominent pregnancy-related films this year -- including "Knocked Up," "Waitress," "Bella" and "Margot at the Wedding" -- because "at no time does the character think she can raise" the baby alone, Yabroff writes.

Juno makes an appointment to undergo an abortion, but she ultimately changes her mind and seeks adoptive parents. Yabroff writes that conservative critics are "applauding what they interpret as the film's pro-life message, which raises a question" of whether "in our politically polarized world," a film in which a "girl decides against abortion" can be viewed as "anything other than an antiabortion film?" Jason Reitman, director of "Juno," said, "This is not a movie about having a baby or not having a baby. It's a movie about loss of innocence."

The women featured in "Knocked Up," "Waitress," "Bella" and "Margot at the Wedding" all "accept their condition, as though motherhood has been a fait accompli from the moment of fertilization," according to Yabroff. She asks that if a "majority of Americans support a woman's right to choose, why the on-screen taboo?" One reason "might be that while Hollywood likes to flaunt its political liberalism, it is fiscally very conservative -- no studio wants to limit the size of its potential audience," she adds (Yabroff, Newsweek, 12/10).