Monday, October 01, 2007

Being Knocked Up Not So Funny to Planned Parenthood

“I hit my head upon the chamber door
And all the marbles rolled on the floor
And all the psychos in the ward start screaming...

I'm alright, alright, I feel alright
I never been better in my life
You know the score"

~ “Alright,” Five for Fighting

“It seemed the filmmakers gave short shrift to Alison’s decision to carry the baby to term. There’s a brief scene in which her mother implores her to ‘take care of it,’ and that seemed accurate in depicting most family conversations about abortion. Euphemisms are used, and the details of the process are never mentioned. But given the circumstances and context of Alison’s life and career, it seemed odd how we never saw her consciously consider the various options before her. Of course, then it wouldn’t have been a comedy.”

~ Vanessa Cullins, medical affairs VP at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as quoted in the September 28-30, 2007, issue of USA Weekend.

The film in question is “Knocked Up,” advertised as a comedy about a one-night stand that results in an unplanned pregnancy, and then the unlikely outcome that these two strangers who produced the child fall in love and live happily ever after. Well, that’s Hollywood. But the USA Weekend’s DVD Insider columnist, Jeffrey Ressner, decided to consult an “expert” to make observations about the movie, its theme and its relevance to real life.

Enter Vanessa Cullins of Planned Parenthood, who is said to have “an extensive background in reproductive health issues.” Her extensive background, however, doesn’t seem to include reading her own hype.

Let’s start with the quote from above, and pick on Cullins semantics, since she's so tired of euphemisms: “…Alison’s decision to carry the baby to term.” I’ve added the emphasis, of course. Webster’s defines a baby as “an infant or young child of either sex.” “Term,” as used here, is a noun defined as “a period of time having definite limits; time during which anything lasts; duration.” If Cullins is a reproductive expert, then she should have couched her language, as do most from Planned Parenthood, and talked about the decision to bring the “pregnancy” to term. Pregnancy is the process which is terminated in abortion in standard PP-speak. In fact, Cullins is one of those credited in early drafts of the Guttmacher Institute’s most recent report on “Abortion in Women’s Lives,” which, in Chapter 4, discusses the long-term implications of “terminating a pregnancy,” not a baby. The authors assert that “too often in the public discourse, abortion is talked about in isolation from its precipitating event, unplanned pregnancy,” (page 6). Cullins is going against the Planned Parenthood grain as quoted, stating the obvious, undeniable psychological truth: it is a baby we choose to abort, a baby that we conceptualize the moment we learn we are pregnant, and not the pregnant condition itself.

A second clue that Cullins may not be as well-versed in Planned Parenthood rhetoric as they might like her to be lies in this statement also quoted in the USA Weekend article: “…Seth’’s character, Ben [unborn baby’s father], did step up to the plate to be supportive of Alison, and that was a positive thing. I was glad to see that. Unlike what so often happens in real life, the man was not left off the hook.”

Hold on now, Cullins – since when are men left off the hook in making the decision to abort? On page 9 of “Abortion in Women’s Lives,” the Guttmacher authors (assisted by Cullins, remember), report that “six in 10 [women who abort] say that they consulted with someone, most often their husband or partner, in making their decision,” (emphasis added). And what hook might that be, anyway? Abortion proponents insist that it’s a woman’s body, a woman’s choice – men have little to do with it beyond donating sperm at an inconvenient time. Cullins sounds nothing like the modern pro-abortion feminist who insists on exercising authority over her own life and body, and certainly bears little resemblance to the Guttmacher stance that “the ability to determine whether and when to bear children has become a prerequisite for women’s full participation in modern life,” (page 4). Even the title, “Abortion in Women’s Lives,” leaves no room for male participation – therefore, I ask again, what hook?

And finally, the most revealing comment Cullins makes is in the last line of the article. If the movie had considered the reality of abortion as an option and described the process, in Cullins’ opinion, “…then it wouldn’t have been a comedy.” This is an odd statement, unless we understand Cullins apparent cognitive dissonance regarding abortion better than she does herself. In the report she helped draft, the Guttmacher Institute claims that “for most women, the time of greatest distress is likely to be before an abortion; after an abortion, women frequently report feeling ‘relief and happiness,’” (page 24). But according to Cullins, had this movie, “Knocked Up,” ended with abortion, there would have been no laughter; no happy ending, the anticipated result in all but the blackest of comedies. Where’s the joy and laughter that should accompany the free exercise of a woman’s choice to terminate her pregnancy (sorry, baby)? After all, isn’t laughter a universal response when we feel relieved and happy? Instead, Cullins actually acknowledges that there is nothing funny about abortion. Killing one’s own unborn child is serious business.

To give her some credit, Cullins has actually seen the movie. I haven’t, and don’t intend to. The basic premise is not comedic material for me, either, and I can empathize with Cullins when she says, “I must admit, this movie stressed me out. [Laughs.]” Oh, here she discovers laughter - apparently she found something funny about it after all, even if it was her own gallows humor at, in her opinion, a sexually irresponsible couple choosing to give birth to an unplanned child instead of ending its life prior to birth.