Is Juno Pro-Life?

The best picture nominee has stirred up a lively debate on this question. Much of the discussion revolves around why the eponymous character, a 16-year-old high school student, decides to have her baby when she accidentally becomes pregnant. Here’s a quick roundup: In Slate Ann Hubert suggests that it’s an assertion of her own autonomy:
She isn’t moved by thoughts of the embryo’s hallowed rights, however, but by a sense of her own autonomy. And for her, that doesn’t mean a right to privacy, or to protect her body ("a fat suit I can’t take off," she calls it at one point). Juno is driven by the chance to make her own unconventional choice.
The Atlantic’s Ross Douthat examines the film’s pivotal scene at the abortion clinic, where a prolife protestor (one of Juno’s classmates) urges her to reconsider:
The scene at the abortion clinic invites the audience to giggle at the Asian girl’s pro-life idealism ("all babies want to get borned," is her lisping chant), while simultaneously giving her the sincere line that makes all the difference in Juno’s decision. None of this means that movie is a brief for overturning Roe v. Wade; far from it. But like Knocked Up, it’s decidedly a brief for not getting an abortion.
Finally, a few weeks ago the always interesting Caitlin Flanagan opined in the Times that the real fairy tale of the film is not that Juno has the baby, but that she seems able to go back to her normal life after the birth: "As any woman who has ever chosen (or been forced) to kick it old school can tell you, surrendering a baby whom you will never know comes with a steep and lifelong cost." (See here for some good letters from readers.) I think it’s a mistake to label Juno prolife--as Hubert writes, the film excels at skewering both pro-choice and pro-life sentiment. That Juno has her baby seems less a sign of the film’s pro-life message than of narrative necessity. (Let’s face it, abortion is not as funny as pregnancy.) Still, Juno is further proof that a young generation of writers and directors isn’t interested in fighting the same old battles on life issues. When it comes to abortion, the change in hearts and minds that many of us seek may still be a long way off; but the shift in tone signaled by films like Juno is surely a reason to be encouraged. UPDATE: For those of you who haven’t seen the film, here’s the preview: Tim Reidy
9 years 3 months ago
I found both "Juno" and "Knocked Up" to be pro-life. They showed the younger generation's distaste for abortion in the face of their parents support for it. Both films also had a lot to say about family. Add in the pro-family and pro-faith community themes in "Lars and The Real Girl" and we really had three very good "life-affirming" movies this year from Hollywood. All three of these films also happened to be enjoyable and well-made and accessible to a wide variety of people.

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The Affordable Care Act has changed our expectations for health care. It shifted the way we live, which may be shifting what we believe.
Michael RozierMay 25, 2017
Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speak to the media about President Donald Trump's proposed fiscal 2018 federal budget in the Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The U.S. bishops have raised some serious concerns about what this proposal says about our national values.
The EditorsMay 25, 2017
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., right, accompanied by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., meets with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, following after a Republican policy luncheon. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Congress is asking the nation to make “immoral choices,” said Sister Keehan, the president of the Catholic Health Association.
Kevin ClarkeMay 25, 2017
Philippine government soldiers walk past a mosque before their May 25 assault on Maute insurgents, who have taken over large parts of the town of Marawi. Residents started to evacuate Marawi after President Rodrigo Duterte imposed martial law across the entire Muslim-majority region of Mindanao. (CNS photo/Romeo Ranoco, Reuters)
Gunmen claiming to have links with the Islamic State group threatened to kill hostages, including a Catholic priest, who were taken from the southern Philippine city of Marawi on May 23.