ACLU Director Says Movie ‘Makes Abortion Funny’

That statement should offend both sides: not only those who oppose abortion but also those who abort (after all, if it wasn’t difficult, why the “not in her shoes” mantra?). But not so for the media – abortion is the very definition of “funny,” in The Washington Post’s latest piece. 

The Washington Post recently published American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Louise Messing’s article where she gushed, “Finally, a movie that makes abortion funny.” Messing was referring to the abortion romantic “comedy,” “Obvious Child,” which opened June 6 and hits theaters nationwide June 27. As a media favorite, the film, said Cosmo, highlighted how “abortion is a catalyst for a potential romantic relationship” and offered, according to Salon, “two people a shot at true love.”

To explain her stance, Messing hyped how, “The new romantic comedy 'Obvious Child' has managed to do something pretty extraordinary” or, in other words, “it’s made abortion sympathetic, and funny.” The movie, according to Messing, showed “the experience of millions of women across the country – that we sometimes get pregnant when we didn’t want to and decide to have an abortion because it’s the right decision for our lives.”

But her article wasn’t all happiness. Messing lamented how “Our culture still stigmatizes abortions and the women who have them” – to the extent that President Obama avoids the word “abortion” when addressing Roe v. Wade. 

“Even within the reproductive rights movement,” she noted, “we have a million ways to signal abortion without saying it,” such as  “personal, private decision making,” “women’s health” and “reproductive health care.” Yes, why not call it for what it is: destruction of the most vulnerable. 

Messing even referenced the “not in her shoes” rhetoric. “Life, after all, is messy,” she said, “And decisions aren’t always black and white.” So what does she consider black and white? Murder perhaps? 

In her conclusion, Messing addressed how “the simple silence around abortion hurts women.” One of the effects being “a culture that tells doctors and nurses they can refuse to treat a woman who seeks an abortion.”

Yes, and while we’re pushing for the “truth” of abortion out into the open, into the media, let’s talk about how abortion harms women. A collaboration of studies published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found, according to a United States Conference of Catholic Bishops report:

  • ″Women who have had an abortion have an 81% higher risk of subsequent mental health problems compared to women who have not had an abortion.”
  • ″Women who aborted have a 138% higher risk of mental health problems compared to women who have given birth.”
  • ″Women who aborted have a 55% higher risk of mental health problems compared to women with an ‘unplanned’ pregnancy who gave birth.”
  • ″Women with a history of abortion have higher rates of anxiety (34% higher), depression (37%), alcohol use/misuse (110%), marijuana use (230%), and suicidal behavior (155%), compared to those who have not had an abortion.”

Studies by Americans United for Life and The Elliot Institute revealed similar harms to women after abortion. 

That’s something the media don’t report. Instead, the media only see the “humor” – as Messing did. Rolling Stone’s Carrie Battan previously adored, “the way Obvious Child handles the idea of abortion” – “as a decision that's a bit unsettling, a bit inconvenient, often necessary – and occasionally funny.” Other media outlets including The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Buzzfeed and Bustle also described the movie as “funny.”

— Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture and Media at the Media Research Center. Follow Katie Yoder on Twitter.

Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture at the Media Research Center