Monday, November 15, 2004

Abortion in Movies and TV

Over the weekend there was some talk about how abortion is featured in movies and tv - an article by Meghan Gurdon in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, Jonah Goldberg and Katherine Lopez comment in the Corner - with Goldberg saying,

"But at the end of the day -- or often at the end of sweeps week -- the woman always says "it's my choice, I'm keeping the baby." Or, they'll have a scene where the woman gets a sonogram and she realizes she loves the baby and again she'll say "it's my choice. I'm having this baby."

And, the moment the women decide to have the baby, the fetus is automatically discussed as if it were a complete person worth talking to, reading to, singing to etc. The implication here, of course, is that if Rachel or whoever had simply chosen not to have the baby, that choice and that choice alone would have been enough of an abracadabra to metaphysically transform the fetus into nothing more than a lump of cells or the inconvenient consequence of a one-night-stand not worth reading to at all.

But -- and here's the funny part -- they never choose the abortion. It's so unbelievably predictable in show after show. Unless there's a miscarriage, the woman always "chooses" to have the baby and that choice makes the fetus into a baby. The ontological status of the baby itself has nothing to do with it."

He notes Friends, Murphy Brown, Boston Public, and Judging Amy. Other shows that I can think of off the top of my head include the O.C. (where Teresa is pregnant, leaves California with Ryan and ends up having a miscarriage, Beverly Hills 90210 (various episodes if I remember correctly), and Law and Order SVU. On Law and Order SVU, the pregnant girl who has Down Syndrome and has been raped is forced to abort by her mother but the cops want to get the remains of the child so that they can test to see if the dead child's DNA matches up with the suspects.

As Gurdon notes, the woman and/or man usually struggles with the decision but not because of what the child is and how killing an unborn child is something people don't want to do but with struggling with the two future paths of their life (parenthood vs. freedom).

Instapundit comments on Jonah's comments at 1:28 on November 14th (keep scrolling - it's towards the bottom. He writes,

"At common law -- and still, pretty much, the law generally -- there's no duty to rescue. The classic example, in fact, involves a man walking down the sidewalk and observing a baby drowning in a half-inch of water. Even if the man could rescue the baby with no risk and minimal inconvenience to himself, he's under no duty to take any action at all, and can simply keep walking without facing any penalty beyond moral condemnation.

But if he decides to help, and takes action, then he becomes obligated to follow through and must exert all reasonable effort (short of risking death or serious bodily harm; inconvenience doesn't generally count) to save the baby's life and leave it in a position of reasonable safety. The analogy should be obvious here.

Now I've thought of this argument in a different context, as an explanation for why you could both support abortion rights (as, of course, I do) and also support holding pregnant women liable for engaging in behavior -- like drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, etc. -- that might endanger the fetus. But I think it provides at least a partial answer to Jonah's question."

Dr. Reynolds, an abortion "rights" supporter, shows us a flaw in many pro-choice arguments like the Violinist by Judith Jarvis Thompson. He equates the stranger-child relationshiop with the mother-child relationship. Parents/guardians have more responsibilities towards their children than do strangers yet Dr. Reynolds would have us look at the relationship between a woman and the child she is carrying as nothing more than a stranger walking by child on the sidewalk.

Dr. Reynolds provides no answer to Jonah's question. Instead he shows us how pro-choicers think (or don't for that matter). Reynolds understands that the fetus is alive yet he still thinks women should be allowed to kill this living human being and bases it on analogy that is obviously flawed in numerous ways.

He seems to be troubled at putting together the dots with 1.) Intentionally killing innocent human being is wrong and should be illegal. 2.) Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being 3. Therefore, abortion is wrong and should be illegal.

He and numberless other pro-choicers can't seem to understand that what the unborn are (living human beings) isn't predicated on how others (their mother) feel about them - which seems to be the point of Jonah's post. The unborn don't suddenly turn into valuable human beings because their mother decides that she wants to have a baby but the unborn are valuable human beings regardless of how the mother views them. Just as whether the mother's decision to abort doesn't turn the unborn child into a worthless "lump of cells" just because that's how their mother views them anymore than Susan Smith decision to drown own her children did.

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