Few subjects can create controversy like the subject of abortion. For far too long there has been little beneficial discussion on this subject that brings about a measure of respect for those engaged in the conversation, it seems as if the word abortion builds up walls of defense that has people engaging in war as opposed to reasonable discussion. The heavy handed tactics from both sides of the fence had for me created an atmosphere where I didn’t think intelligent discussion on the subject was possible. That is until I saw the movie, October Baby.
For me, abortion is a subject that hits home because of the circumstances of my own birth; the 1950’s, my mother is pregnant in her mid teens prior to being married. It was an era where abortion was not legally available, and over the years, I have contemplated on how I benefited as a result. That isn’t to say my life has been a barrel of fun, it hasn’t, it isn’t to say that my life at times hasn’t been tragic, it has, but the breath that comes from life, at least for me is something I value. I value it so much that later in life, after being married for some years, my wife, daughter and I decided to adopt a hard to place child. It was on December 26 that our son came into our lives as a result. A child whose mother sought out to have an abortion, but pleasantly and gratefully, decided against it, as a result our family became whole.
When screening this film I did something I normally wouldn’t do, I watched the screener with a group of people. I had no idea what the film was about. I, through our church, operate a shelter for homeless women. We normally either have the television on or show movies on our big projection unit each night. Knowing I needed to see this movie for review I decided to watch it with approximately 20 homeless women. I was impressed with the movie as it progressed and especially with the sensitivity, yet reality of how it dealt with the subject of abortion, or in the case of the movie, attempted abortion since it explores the journey of a young girl whose birth mother attempted to abort her. It isn’t until shortly after a breakdown on a theater stage while in her late teens that the primary character finds out her birth mother birthed her during an abortion attempt, something not unheard of.
As the story came together on screen, something begin to happen, the gals at the shelter watching it, they became enthralled with the story, and at the conclusion of the film, approximately 10 of the 20 gals were not just crying, but sobbing. For many, the movie hit home and conversations begin as they asked me questions about the subject of abortion, many coming to the conclusion that the fetus in the womb was in fact, ‘a baby.’ For one young lady, she couldn’t get the tears and emotion out of her head for the next days as she detailed to me; she was pregnant and had many care providers encouraging her to have an abortion. She was desolate, on the streets, single, homeless, yet she recognized the value of contacting someone to give the baby up to for adoption as opposed to having the baby aborted. It was over these days that I realized the potential impact of this film, especially on those in similar situations, if they in fact, had the opportunity to see the movie.
October Baby stars Rachel Hendrix as Hannah, the teen daughter of Grace and Jacob, played respectfully by Jennifer Price and John Schneider. While the acting is credible and the film well produced and put together it is story driven. It is well told however and once the viewer gives the movie a little time they will be drawn into the story, caring about the characters and their journey. One of the things I appreciated about the film is the conflict between the primary character Hannah and her adopted parents. These conflicts, often resulting in the need to search out the birth parent are difficult for those going through that particular experience. Yet the love of the adopted family is well presented and shown in a loving and caring way. The script of the story allows for this to take place from my own personal experiences, in a real way.
Hannah is a bright young girl who has the benefit of having good, caring friends around her. These friends help lead her in the right direction and provide the appropriate types of support. This scenario is unfortunately not always the case for adopted children. October Baby though shows the value of loving and caring parents, along with the appropriate support system around that family. That isn’t to say there isn’t difficulty, the reality of that difficulty for many is one of the drawing factors that will have many appreciating the movie. The characters are developed and played nicely on screen. This is especially the case in the role of the father, played by John Schneider of Smallville and The Dukes of Hazard fame among others.
While the subject of abortion is controversial, this movie presents the journey to understanding by the primary character Hannah. No where in its portrayal is the movie ‘preachy’ and the story is presented in a non threatening, caring way. It is one of the things I think will give the movie some impact if given the opportunity. I have no doubt October Baby will convey the importance of life, while at the same time, respecting the audience it is presenting the story to. If the story presented never happened one could easily look over the premise of the story, in that the story does and has happened though, it isn’t presented as much as an anti abortion movie as it is the story of a young lady who went through a unique situation. The courage and journey of young girl discovering herself is a story that many will appreciate, no matter what they have had to journey through in life. It just so happens that with the subject matter of this movie, there will be others who experience life because the choice and benefits of life are presented. I am reminded of the Bible passage where it states, ‘I knew you and formed you while you were yet in your mother’s womb.’ More than that though, I have learned to appreciate and value the young women, despite difficulty, who chose to give life, even if giving the child up for adoption, because they recognized the potential of life as opposed to the uncertainty of what could have been which comes about with abortion.
Abortion is a subject many are passionate about; it is one where in the support of a position, we often loose respect for the person with a differing belief. It is rare that that uncertainty, which produces heated discussion, is presented in such a way as to bring people together to understand or contemplate the realities of abortion. October Baby, in and of itself does such a thing; whether those who choose to engage in the debate will do that is yet to be seen. I know the surprise and impact I experienced of watching this movie with a group of women, some who had had abortions and others who were contemplating and being encouraged by others to do so. The bottom line is October Baby will save the lives of future babies. I have already seen it do so with at least one baby. I personally don’t know how one puts a price on that, the value of a baby, but in my book, the movie, the story, has already been worth the cost of production, and October Baby did it prior to hitting theaters. Quite an accomplishment if you ask me, but don’t ask me, ask those who see the movie who walk in similar shoes of those I saw the movie with. If that doesn’t persuade one as to the viability of life, I don’t know what will.
On a scale of 1 – 10, while this isn’t a perfect movie, it is still very good and well worth seeing, you might even say it kind of matches that holy number that many refer to, and so, I give this movie a well deserving 7
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