Dear Dana Stevens of Slate,
You apparently saw a different version of Knocked Up than I did.
For one, to complain that discussions of abortion are silenced because people don’t like to talk about abortion, in a movie that shows people being uncomfortable talking about abortion is…kind of running around in circles. Of course the characters don’t talk about abortion a lot: in real life, when they are actually talking about things like that, lots of people are uncomfortable and euphemistic about abortion, especially immature stoner nerds and ladies-who-lunch. Everyone else, including Alison’s sister and Ben, the baby’s father, seem generally supportive and willing to let Alison make her decision on her own. Since Judd Apatow was making a movie about how people act, not a political treatise, I think it is okay that he did not devote excessive screen time to discussing abortion as an option.
For another thing, your characterization of Alison’s situation doesn’t match the one I saw in the movie:
As the mother of a 1-year-old daughter, I think I can say that if she turned up pregnant in her early 20s under exactly Alison’s circumstances—single, barely acquainted with the father, financially dependent (she lives with her married sister), weeping miserably at her first sonogram—I would encourage her to at least consider the possibility of abortion, without in any way impugning the “realness” of the child should she decide to keep it [like Alison's mother does in the film].
In the movie I saw, Alison was a bright, successful woman who appeared to live with her sister (and family) by choice. That she lives with her sister means she does have some kind of support system outside of the dude she barely knows who impregnated her. Also, in the film that I saw, there was some brief non-suspense as Alison weighs her choices, and then a scene in which Alison TELLS BEN THAT SHE HAS MADE A CHOICE TO KEEP THE BABY. This is what pro-choice means. Abortion is clearly available as an option to Alison, but that does require her to choose it. Maybe I wasn’t paying attention, but I don’t really remember anyone saying “having an abortion is bad and wrong.” It is not anti-choice for a woman to keep an unplanned child.
I understand that Knocked Up is a commercial product designed to make money, and that might be part of the reason it didn’t really talk about abortion that much. I also wish that there were more movies that featured non-hysterical depictions of abortion, but the view that abortions don’t necessarily need to be dramatic, guilt-filled affairs generally doesn’t lead to really good drama: it doesn’t really sell tickets.
I don’t think it helps anyone to pretend that pro-choice = pro-abortion, and expect movies to live up to that version of politics. Choice is the key word here, and the movie I saw showed Alison making one. Getting accidentally pregnant and then having the luxury to decide what to do is what pro-choice MEANS.
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