Last night Guy and I went to see Smart People. Before the movie itself, we saw a preview for Then She Found Me. By my calculations, this brings to six the number of American movies released in the past twelve months that feature unexpected pregnancies: Knocked Up, Waitress, Juno, Smart People, Baby Mama, and Then She Found Me.
I've seen all but the last two, and liked them to varying degrees. But I'm bothered by a few things. In all cases, the pregnancies come as an unwelcome surprise: the women tend to be too old or too young; unmarried or married to assholes or in the midst of a divorce; and all have "ambitions" or "dreams" or "a future"--futures that are either jeopardized or significantly complicated by a pregnancy.
And in each case, the woman has the baby. Those movies that raise the possibility of an abortion do so only obliquely, often euphemistically, and the pregnant woman rejects the idea immediately.
We're supposed to celebrate these women for being brave enough to step into the unknown, to accept that plans change, and to sacrifice some of their ambitions for the sake of something (or someone) else. That's a lovely message as far as it goes, and in each separate case I'm willing to root for the woman and to support her choice--but when that message comes, time and again, without more than a perfunctory acknowledgement of the difficulties these women will face--and in the absence of the social, economic, and legal structures that might permit them to balance work and family life with something approximating success--the feel-good endings of these movies do not, in fact, make me feel so good.
So this Mother's Day, let's take a moment to celebrate birth control. And let's hear it for keeping abortion safe, legal, and accessible.
Hollywood, take a memo.