Ideas are often much more powerfully transmitted through stories, culture and narratives of personal experience than through facts or polemics.
And while “abortion rights” have become established in law in most countries (and defended by the majority of the political class), it’s fascinating to note that movies and television dramas are often surreptitiously pro-life.
Bridget Jones’s Baby was last year’s big hit and is now out on DVD. When the ditzy Bridget falls fecklessly pregnant at the age of 43 – having been tipsily involved with two different guys – the option of “abortion” isn’t mentioned once. Quite quickly into the film, we have Emma Thompson as a brisk medic carrying out an ultrasound scan, waving at the small human image on the screen: “Hello, baby!” From there on, it’s a hilarious romp through a comedy that is airily lacking in moral judgment, yet its subtext is affirmatively pro-baby and pro-life.
In Paris last week, I saw the newest French screwball film comedy, called Telle mère, telle fille, which might be translated as “Like Mother, Like Daughter”. It’s about a madcap and irresponsible 47-year-old named Mado, played by the beguiling Juliette Binoche (wildly untidy, smoking fags and running around Paris on a scooter), and her more proper, married daughter, Avril (Camille Cottin). Avril is 30 and welcomes motherhood: her competitive mother is furious about looming grandmotherhood, yet also becomes pregnant (after an encounter
with her ex-husband).
Abortion is indeed considered, even recommended. The doctor prescribes abortion pills which Mado is on the point of swallowing – then suddenly coughs up. “After all, I’m for life,” she says. “I’m a mother!” Comical chaos all round as we follow the escapades of the pregnant duo, the appalled menfolk, the disapproving in-laws and the gay gynaecologist. And of course when babies duly arrive, everyone is wildly happy.
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