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Knocked Up and the Abortion Debate

Writer - director Judd Apatow's funny new comedy, "Knocked Up," about a slacker guy who gets a talented and beautiful woman pregnant after a drunken one night stand and then decides to raise the baby with her, has been getting a lot of press lately. Its a very funny movie, raunchy at times, but also strangely endearing.

(You may know Apatow's sense of humor and style of directing from the brilliant though short-lived TV series "Freaks and Geeks," or from 2005s, "The Forty Year Old Virgin.")

Interestingly, Knocked Up, has taken some heat for its premise. Apparently, the idea that a beautiful, talented, upper-middle class woman, would choose to parent rather than to have an abortion is somewhat controversial, even in a comedy.

Check it out.  The reviewers over at Slate and The New Yorker sure seem to think so.

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Ms. NussbaumMy wife and I saw this movie a couple of days ago, and you're right: it was funny, often hilarious, and decidedly raunchy, and in the end, endearing.I am of the opinion that the other "geeks" in the movie are to be thought of as children: messy, dirty, but actually clueless innocents adrift in a reality they don't understand. Their raunchiness is not to be considered as evil, but as the babblings and stumblings of naive waifs unaware of the consequences of what they do, until the pregnancy and childbirth (simultaneously very funny and very graphic).In the end, I'm not sure what to make of films like this.

This post seems to be misreading the reviews at Slate and New Yorker. The issue they raise isn't that she decided to have the baby, but that abortion was not discussed as an option. Why not? There don't seem to be any clues given in her character, so far as I can tell from the reviews. It sees likely that a woman in this situation would at least acknowledged the possibility of abortion, if only to dismiss it. It's possible that the discussion of abortion just didn't seem to fit into the director's comedic vision. That might be a good decision from the movie's point of view -- I haven't seen it, so I can't judge. From a different perspective, it's a missed opportunity to look at how people actually make decisions about having children, and what values come into play.

Gina -I saw the movie the other night - the abortion option was considered - the woman in the movie made an announcement that she was going through with the pregnancy. Even his stoner buddies had a mini-debate over it as they were trying to advise the father on whether or not to pursue an abortion. Even if the issue of abortion were completely missing from the film, why would anyone find that troubling?

I don't know if the omission would be troubling per se, except to the extent that it's one more gap in a movie seems to veer so far from reality. Try to think of someone you know or know of in the female lead's professional situation who becomes a single parent under similar circumstances. It's like Flashdance, where the break dancing female steelworker gets signed to a contract with a ballet company. Once you get that far from reality, what point exactly are you imparting that is something other than raw fantasy? Not that she would have had an abortion, but that she would have been using birth control, and would have been scripting out her life through arranged dates with men who were as fastidious about their careers (and thus parenting plans) as she was and so on. It's the idea that you can make a zillion bad choices and still wind up with true happiness. How did we come to glorify such a manifestly retrograde and untrue premise?

My wife and I saw this movie last weekend - hilarious, if a bit raunchy. I think I missed something, however (or rather, I thought I saw something that perhaps I misconstrued). Most of the articles critical of the movie state that abortion is never really considered by the female lead. If I recall correctly, early on in the movie, the female lead's mother counsels abortion in no uncertain terms. Was I wrong? I remember the mom telling the young woman to "take care of it" in a very directive manner. Now, maybe the issue is the fact that the word 'abortion' was not used in this scene, but if not, I cannot think of a stronger dramatic device to show that abortion is being seriously considered than a character going to a parent whom she obviously respects, asking for advice and the parent pressing for abortion. Did I miss something?