How Views on Abortion Changed

I highly recommend this article - it's by a former supporter, who has come to evolve her thinking.

It's hard for today's citizens to believe, but there was a time when the mere thought of abortion was enough to horrify the majority of Americans.  Women, in particular, were vehemently against the killing.  Even the movies were reflexively pro-life.  Some examples:

  • Love With the Proper Stranger - a young woman gets pregnant as a result of a one-night stand with someone she barely knows.  She initially just wants the money to end the pregnancy.  After scraping up the cash, she and the father go to the abortionist, but she can't go through with it, and confronts her family with the truth.

  • A Place in the Sun - not technically an abortion movie, the film is of the murder of the pregnant mother committed by the father of the child, in order to facilitate his marriage to the rich girl.

  • Georgie Girl - a party girl becomes pregnant, her roommate and the boyfriend persuade her to have it, the roommate ends up raising it.  The mother is relieved to give the kid up, the boyfriend goes back to his slacker life, and Georgie marries an older, rich widower.

  • Dirty Dancing - lots of sympathy for the whoops-not-a-mother from everyone.

  • Cabaret - the Liza Minelli character has an abortion.  She is shown to be relatively shallow and unconventional.

  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High - it's considered a relatively small problem with a quick, although expensive solution.

  • Coach Carter - until I Googled Abortion movies, I had forgotten this.  A promising athlete and his girlfriend are confronted with a pregnancy.  The father involved works to find a way to make it work for them.  The mother aborts without telling him.

  • A Walk in the Clouds - a retro movie about a WWII vet as a traveling salesman, who finds a nice young lady in "delicate circumstances".  He decides to help her out by posing as her husband.  Very respectful of unwed pregnancy, and of the tough choices women make.
Until around the 1960's, abortion in movies was relatively rare.  This was a reflection of the prevalent moral code that condemned abortion, and also practical - abortions were, for most people, either not available, or very dangerous, not to mention illegal.  So, promotion of a dangerous practice would have been reckless.

Recently, there have been several movies that presented the possibility of a would-be mother continuing the pregnancy, to either raise the child herself, or to select the adoptive family that would do it.  They were quality films, and fairly reflect the current practice of women not worrying about "the disgrace" of unwed pregnancy.

Many of the original reasons for the push to legalize abortion are no longer valid:

  • Rape - the common use of the post-pregnancy emergency contraception (I'm using the terminology that is best-known, without regard to scientific controversy about whether it's an abortive drug) has made this a less-common reason for later abortion.

  • Lack of access to contraceptives - Please!  They are everywhere, and cheap.

  • Public shame - just about every family knows someone, or has someone, who became sexually active before marriage.

  • Lack of money - our society supports - quite liberally - those families that have little money.  Also, provides LOTS of opportunity to educate/train for better-paying work.

  • Medical - many doctors point out that truly medical abortions are quite rare.  Almost all pregnancies could be managed medically, and brought to term - IF the mother wanted it.

  • The young couple being doomed to a life of poverty, misery, and no hope.  For heaven's sake, not unless they want it.  There are programs for young mothers who need to finish their education, money for all medical expenses, help for the new baby, etc.


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