As the independently produced comedy Juno continues to draw increasingly large audiences to U.S. movie theaters, former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum observes, in a Philadelphia Inquirer oped, that the film is part of a trend reflecting a cultural shift away from support for abortion:
In a nation with one of the world’s most wide-open abortion regimes, U.S. audiences flocked to see five motion pictures with life-affirming texts or subtexts: Knocked up, Waitress, Bella, August Rush and Juno.
In these movies, abortion was urged on women facing an unplanned pregnancy, and rejected. Ultrasound images awakened characters and audiences to the humanity of the unborn. Having a baby, even in the most challenging circumstances, became the compelling "choice." Adoption was held up as a positive alternative to abortion. And, unlike the news media’s portrayal of pro-lifers, protesters outside abortion clinics were authentically depicted as warm and concerned. This stood in contrast to the indifference of the staff within.
These movies came from four different companies (Waitress and Juno are Fox Searchlight movies) and right out of our pop culture.
As Santorum observes, the attitude of young people regarding abortion is very different from that of their parents, and suggests the change in attitudes may continue and increase:
One of the most poignant recurring themes may be the message to baby-boom parents from their own children. The characters most often urging abortion on the expectant mother were aging boomers, and they are not attractive moments. In August Rush, Lyla’s father tells her that her baby was killed in an auto accident and gives the child to an orphanage – to protect her career. After career-bound Alison becomes pregnant in Knocked Up, it’s her mother who urges her to have an abortion – she can always have "a real baby" later on.
Santorum goes on to note that our greater knowledge about children in the womb has created a good deal of this uneasiness about abortion:
Alison doesn’t take her mother’s advice. She decides to have her baby after seeing the unborn child’s heart beat on a monitor. What ultimately triumphs in Knocked Up and these other movies is the simple reality of human life.
On the way to an abortion, Juno Ellen Page stops and talks to a nerdy but caring pro-life schoolmate who is protesting there. As Juno continues into the clinic, the girl calls out, "Your baby has fingernails!"
Your baby has fingernails: It’s enough to stop Juno from going ahead with an abortion.
Yes, the ultrasound—and now Hollywood—see that unborn baby whose eyes, spinal cord, nervous system, liver and stomach are developing within the first month, whose heart begins beating at 18 days. That unborn child who can make a tiny fist, hiccup, wake and sleep at three months.
This trend of greater concern for unborn children and concomitant lowering of support for abortion, and also of lowering abortion rates, is indeed reflected in the polls and statistics in recent years.
The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court does not allow states to decide this matter is a scandal, but increasingly American women are deciding against abortion on their own—and even Hollywood is beginning to notice.