Juno and Bella

I’ve heard a lot of Catholic praise for these two movies. I saw both of them and I thought both were thought provoking and interesting. They are definitely more pro-life than movies like The Cider House Rules, which promote abortion.

That having been said, I have a question. A lot of people, after watching either Juno or Bella, said that it was a “beautiful” and “virtuous” thing that in both movies a woman (teen in the case of Juno) decided not to have an abortion. Now, I understand that a lot of women are having abortions but I think both movies are missing the more important point. A woman doesn’t have the right to murder her unborn child. There is nothing “beautiful” about a woman choosing not to have an abortion. It’s what she is supposed to do. We don’t praise murderers or thieves when they choose not kill somebody or rob a bank. Why do we admire women for not having abortions? They chose not to commit murder. Is that virtuous?

Fulton J. Sheen said that modern society has lost “the horror of sin”. I think that’s definitely the case with abortion. We’ve been so brainwashed on this issue that we pat women on the back for not having one. If a paedophile came up to you and said, “Hey I didn’t abuse a child today!”, would you think this a beautiful thing? Would you make a movie about it?

Dont get me wrong. Im happy when even one baby is saved. But are we really holding the women in our society accountable when we applaud them for not murdering their babies?

It’s not comparable. Pedophilia is illegal and not accepted by society, same with murder and robbery. Abortion is legal and largely acceptable society (although of course it is terrible). Most of society does not view abortion as murder (even though we know it is). So it is different when a scared desperate woman chooses not to take the LEGAL and what seems like “easy way out” of abortion, which no one will ever know about, no laws are broken, and most people are probably encouraging them to do. These women realize in their heart that the baby is a person and they do the right thing.

I’m not saying these women did not make the right choice. I’m simply saying that their choice should not be celebrated as something that is virtuous, regardless of whether the larger society allows the behaviour or not. It’s good that they realized that what they are doing is murder, but they should not be held up as heroes for coming to this realization. To me, that’s just buying into the idea that a woman has the right to have an abortion, which she does not.

Objectively speaking, the murdering of an unborn child by his or her mother is comparable to paedophilia in my opinion. How evil that act is has nothing to do with whether society says it is legal or not. In Nazi Germany it was legal to kill Jewish people. As for these women being “scared and desperate”, I would say that this does not in any way justify the act. Many paedophiles were sexually abused when they were young, but that does not justify their behaviour in any way or detract from the horror of the act. It’s the same with abortion. Desperation and fear is not a justification for murder, especially considering that a mother has a unique, physical bond with her unborn child.

Hollywood took a wrong turn along time ago. I think, and pray, that they are slowly making a u-turn. There seems to be less of a profit in R rated movies and more in pg-13. Movies like Juno and Bella are much better than what used to be out. However I do see your point. TV , in my opinion, is the bigger problem.

Well, actually, yeah… if I saw a movie about a pedophile who was sorely tempted throughout the film to abuse children but didn’t, I’d call him virtuous.

I’m not saying that “not committing murder” is an especially praiseworthy action in itself. But in this society, when abortion is not only accepted but encouraged, the decision not to have an abortion does, in fact, require fortitude and courage and wisdom and love. It is a virtuous act, just like any resistance to temptation – especially when much of society wants you to succumb to the temptation.

The really nice thing about Juno was how it showed very virtuous pro-life protesters having an effect.

I also liked the scene with the virtuous pro-life girl. Although she was portrayed as a naive Catholic zealot who didn`t understand the “complexities” of the problem that Juno was going through. Maybe you guys think that way about me :).

I don`t think the director of Juno was really pro-life in that he believed abortion was murder. He may have thought that not having an abortion is a “better” decision than having an abortion, just like not sexually molesting a child is a “better” decision than molesting a child, but I doubt he would support an outright ban on abortion (aka ending the genocide). My feeling was that even though the director praised Juno for not having an abortion, he still very much felt it was her choice.

You made a good point about resisting temptation but I think you are setting your moral standards too low. I go back to my original point. If a paedophile came up to me and said, “I resisted molesting a child today!”, I would probably call the police. At the bare minimum my opinion of that person would be severely damaged. I certainly would not praise the person or hold them up as an example of heroic virtue.

I fundamentally disagree with the idea that a mother not murdering her unborn baby is an act of fortitude, love and wisdom. That really is setting your standard for virtue way too low. The bond between a mother and her unborn child is a sacred one. A mother who murders, or contemplates murdering, her unborn child is as morally reprehensible as a paedophile that molests, or contemplates molesting, a child, in my humble opinion.

Remember that Jesus himself said that there is little difference between thought and action. He also said that worldly standards are not the standards by which we are to judge other people’s thoughts and actions. Is it good when a paedophile resists the temptation to molest a child, and a pregnant woman resists the temptation to have an abortion? Absolutely. Is it virtuous? I don’t think so.

During the Nuremberg trails, Nazi-concentration-camp generals were asked how they thought they could, in good conscience, murder thousands of Jews. Their answer was that their society said it was morally acceptable and that they were under enormous pressure to follow orders. If they had not followed orders, they said, they would have been killed. Those moral excuses were completely rejected by the judges. The judges said that even though they had the moral approval of their society, and even though they were under enormous pressure, the crime they committed was so heinous they should have known better.

Knowing that you are not allowed to murder a Jewish person just because they are a Jew does not require any virtue, it’s common sense, regardless of what your society’s position on the issue is. Similarly, knowing that you should not murder your unborn baby does not require virtue. It’s common sense. To say otherwise is to downplay the horror of the crime.

Similarly, knowing that you should not murder your unborn baby does not require virtue. It’s common sense. To say otherwise is to downplay the horror of the crime.

It does require virtue… one of the greatest sins humanity is to commit sins involving peer pressure. To resist peer pressure is a great and wonderful virtue.

Alot of people know it is common sense and it is a sin to kill another human being. Avoiding it is a virtue of resisting peer pressure, in conjunction with the virtue of having saved a child. To resist peer pressure is to save your own soul as well as that of the child. If we acted on common sense alone(which by the way is impossible), we save the soul of the child… but if we act on common sense in the face of a society that pressures us into doing things our common sense tells us not to(which is the way things normally are when we act with integrity anyhow)… we save both the child and our own integrity and soul. In that respect it is as strong a virtue as having never considered abortion in the first place.

If a woman has already entered a situation where she puts the life of the child knowingly at risk, but realizes, even at the last second that she did not really make the choice without being pressured in some way, or she reconsiders her choice, and she saves the child… that is the virtue of having resisted peer pressure AND saved the life of her kid…

The fact is while it is common sense not to murder someone, but circumstances and pressures in life can put us in the situation where we may have to meet that crisis where we are tested in such a manner, either out of complete surprise, out of self defense or if we are women, out of having had minor, but normal, “doubts”. Or our kids may meet that crisis and say “what do I do dad? I got the girl pregnant…”, we have to understand that we may need to lead our kids or ourselves out of that situation… or simular situations involving the temptation to commit simular acts.

Human beings are not sensible at all and we know we will all meet others in such situations as the character Juno was. They have an unplanned pregnancy and are doubting themselves… their parents may be giving horrid advice, as well as the dude who got them pregnant, their friends at school(or work), the list goes on and on.

A movie like Juno shows just how to do that in a responsible manner. You can either judgmentally go “you shouldn’t even be considering it, it’s a sinful crime, it’s common sense not to have an abortion”, or you can council them where others weren’t, listen to what they have to say, what situations have driven them to desperation and tell them what they will miss out on if they kill the kid. Juno may help you do that.

I would agree that both Juno and Bella can be called pro-life, but I think it’s important to note that they are pro-life in different ways.

Bella was written, directed, and produced by Catholics who wanted to emphasize the beauty of human life and the joy and healing that can come with relationships with others that are characterized by faith, hope, and love. The young woman choosing adoption over abortion was a small part of the story, but it was not the focus. My understanding of the movie saw the focus on the healing both she and the main male character found in the life of that little girl. Their healing is what I found so beautiful (along with the music and cinematography)…it was a striking story that did not focus on the decision to have the baby, but on the impact new life and new hope have on our lives.

As for Juno, I think a lot of the excitement with that movie was that it came out of Hollywood and was decidedly pro-life, however irreverent it was towards teen pregnancy and both pro-lifers and pro-choicers. It was a courageous choice for Juno to choose life for her baby, moral courage IS a virtue. It was also very surprising when you think about it, because she clearly did not have a Christian background or any strong ideas about when human life begins. The movie showed that neither “choice” (and I agree with you that abortion should not be considered a legitimate “choice”) is an easy one to make, but focused on the healing and happiness Juno found after giving life to her baby–and giving her baby to a family who was able to provide him with the things he would need to flourish.

Another movie about pregnancy that is incredibly irreverent (and even vulgar at times), but still focuses on the positive impact a baby can have on his or her parents’ lives, even in difficult and unplanned circumstances is Knocked Up. Because of its crude humor I’m not sure I can recommend it to anyone to watch, but it did have a surprisingly pro-life message, however secularized. The young mom in that film, a career woman who got pregnant from a one-night stand, resisted family pressure to abort, and the movie shows how her pregnancy and daughter brought her together with the baby’s father even in difficult circumstances.

It’s always refreshing to see positive messages from Hollywood about the joy that can come from unplanned pregnancy, even if they come in imperfect packages!

I work in a crisis pregnancy center, and in the last few weeks have had the privilege of talking to several young women who were pregnant unexpectedly. Some of them were happy about it, but 3 were very uncertain. They were being pressured to abort by friends, parents, and in one case, the boyfriend. The boyfriend told the girl he wanted nothing to do with her or the baby at all. She was very hurt, needless to say, and felt like she had nowhere to turn for support.
It’s very hard to be in a vulnerable position, needing help and support, and not have any. These girls have the most important people in their lives telling them they’re being selfish and stupid to bring their babies to term. Nevertheless, it did not take much effort on my part to encourage them to choose life for their babies. They just wanted someone to tell them it could be done, that there are resources and people interested in helping them. Their instincts were all for protecting their babies. Last I heard, all of them were making doctor appointments for prenatal care.
I would call these women courageous and virtuous, since they have to stand against their families and friends’ advice and start down a hard road.

I think the biggest problem especially with Juno is that some teen girls love the drama they see in the movie and go out and get pregnant. There was actually a case in Massachusetts of pregnancy pacts among teen girls. While encouraging girls to not abort is a good thing, to glamorize teen pregnancy through a glorified version of what having a child entails is not a good thing. The truth is that we want neither to happen. Glamorizing a baby could have the unintended consequence of increasing abortions when teen girls get pregnant and find pregnancy isnt like it is in the movies.

I didn’t see Juno as glamorizing teen pregnancy.

I saw it as concerning a young woman faced with the challenge of life… not glamourising the fact it was a teen girl, but accepting the fact that such teen pregnancy occurs. The movie really is for women in the situation, and for their parents and siblings and friends.

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