Pop-culture blowback on abortion: Reitman’s “Juno”, Apatow’s “Knocked Up”

Jason Reitman and Judd Apatow

What a refreshing year in film! For me, 2007 will be remembered as the year that the prevailing wisdom on abortion handed down to a generation – that abortion is a right, and that even the tiniest bit of ambivalence or discomfort with it is completely un-cool – was successfully challenged in popular culture.

First came “Knocked Up”, the comedy blockbuster from 39-year-old writer-director Judd Apatow. The plot of this film hinges on the decision of an attractive, up-and-coming television personality played by Katherine Heigl, to carry to term her pregnancy created during a one-night-stand with a sharp-witted slacker played by Seth Rogen. While critically acclaimed, and a huge hit at the box office, most of the criticism of the film centered around the quick, non-melodramatic way Apatow dealt with the issue of abortion. Driving pro-abortion folks crazy, Apatow disposes of the issue with two brief scenes: one, in which Rogen’s character sits down with his stoner-slacker friends to discuss the predicament, and the idea of “rhymes with smush-smortion” proposed by one is met with complete revulsion by at least one character, and is quickly dismissed. The other scene involves Heigl’s revulsion at her own mother, who callously recommends she “has it taken care of” during lunch at a high-class restaurant.

In 30-year-old Jason Reitman’s Juno – the follow-up to his overtly libertarian 2005 debut film, Thank You For Smoking– the plot again hinges on the decision of a smart young woman (this one played by Halifax-born-and-raised Ellen Page) choosing to carry to term a pregnancy conceived in a one-night stand. Reitman and writer Diablo Cody take it one step further than Apatow, placing their hip character right inside the sad, disturbing reality of a Planned Parenthood-like “Women’s Health” clinic (an oxymoron if there ever was one), and through humour and humanity, having her decide very quickly that there was something very, very wrong in there.

The significance of these pop-culture moments should not be understated. Within two films that received massive critical praise, huge box-office results, and, most importantly, major buzz within the 18-35 generation, the overwhelming message delivered was: smart, strong young women can decide that abortion is wrong, and still remain completely cool. And the best part is, this message – along with powerful pro-family-values themes in both films – was slipped in completely below the viewing audience’s expectations. Because, in the world of teen and slacker comedies of the past 20 years, the message has been: lots of casual sex is the ultimate goal in life; intercourse has no repercussions; and, as one character says in Juno, pregnancy “is something that happens to our parents and teachers.” By being funnier and smarter than the comedies that came before, the message will certainly have an impact on those previously predisposed to following pro-abortion absolutism.

Thank you to Apatow and Reitman – two sharp young Jewish guys who clearly revel in rejecting the oppression of conventional wisdom.



Filed under Abortion Unlimited, Against the Grain, Pop-Culture Conservatism

27 responses to “Pop-culture blowback on abortion: Reitman’s “Juno”, Apatow’s “Knocked Up”

  1. TnT


    I’ve not been aware of too many pro ‘abortion’ people personally.

    Plenty of pro ‘choice’, but no pro ‘abortion’.

  2. If “pro-choice” people aren’t pro-abortion, then why do they constantly fight to keep it unlimited and free?

    I appreciate any and all challenges here, but TnT, disagreeing with every single post seems a tad…obsessive(?)

  3. TnT

    well if you post something I agree with, then great.
    So far I agreed with the merry christmas part. And I don’t think that because my opinions differ from yours is ‘obsessive’, nor am I a ‘conservative hating elitist prig’. Although I do realize that when things get warm and people disagree too much, the desire to throw things like ‘obsessive’ and other names is great. I am simply opinionated just like yourself. Take it for what it’s worth.

    The pro ‘choice’ people fight to keep it free and unlimited to ensure that those who decide and or need it, have access to it. It really couldn’t be any simpler than that. I am in no way offended nor threatened by the availability of abortion, even though I wouldn’t choose it personally if asked. But I have to wonder why someone who disagrees with abortion needs to paint anyone who believes in ‘choice’ all are ready to abort all our babies should we ever conceive one.

    Nonsense. Let’s be fair shall we?

  4. In my opinion, “pro-choice” is pro-abortion. There’s no magic word that lets you have it both ways. If terminating an inconvenient spouse is wrong, and terminating an inconvenient sick child is wrong, and terminating an inconvenient parent is wrong, and terminating an inconvenient enemy is wrong, then terminating an inconvenient fetus is wrong. Is it exactly the same level of wrong? Perhaps not. I’m not sure I’d penalize the mother, but I’d definitely penalize the doctor. Google: hypocratic oath.

  5. TnT

    How is something no longer used like the Hippocratic oath relevant?

    No the magic word is choice. You see, the difference between you and I is, that I am allowing people to make their choices based on their beliefs, as opposed to say hard line christians who will go as far as murdering people to enforce their belief system. And they will equate disagreeing with them with murder. Insane. I see a big difference between an early fetus and a human being waking the earth. And clearly so do a significant majority of people since abortion has been legal here for decades.

    That does not make me -pro- abortion no matter how many times you want to repeat it. Personally, I am not -for- abortion, but do allow that someone else might be. I don’t think you can compare it to murdering a human being, which the Christians clearly seem to think you can (and do). The Christians are not the only people to walk this earth even though they like to act like they are and expect everyone to adhere to their belief systems without tolerance. ‘Choice’ is the key word here Flaggman, choice. If Christians want to believe against abortion, and teach their followers not to use abortion, they are most certainly free to do so. But do not force others to adhere to their belief systems, and don’t eve try to compare it to basic society rules such as murder.

  6. Terry

    When Christian Pharmacists, Doctors, Nurses, medical staff can opt-out of performing abortions or providing medications/pills to abort, or opt-out of referring patients to places where they can find pills/medical staff to provide abortions…and Christians can choose to opt-out their tax dollars to fund abortions or partially fund places where abortion procedures are done, and Catholic hospitals aren’t politically pressured to perform abortions or sterilization procedures, that argument might have more teeth (Christians should shut up , tolerate and just live and let live). Not only Christians, but anyone who believes conception is the start of life and is morally against abortion.

    I tried explaining this to someone who is Pro-Choice and non-Christian: If someone truly believes that a fetus is a live human being at the moment of conception (or in very early pregnancy), how can you expect them to keep quiet about what they see as the murder of innocent children? And wouldn’t you be disappointed in them as a human being for quietly allowing children to be murdered just to go with the flow?

  7. TnT

    Hmmm. That’s funny. I was under the impression that Catholic hospitals, did not provide services such as tubal ligations, vasectomies, contraceptive counseling, and of course, abortions. If they aren’t than they absolutely should be able to. Or is this another one of those pro life fabrications I see so often.

    And this tax dollar argument. Give me a break. If we all sat down and demanded that portions of our tax dollars that are used to fund things that we disagree with was an option, there would be no tax revenue as it would be completely used up by the bureaucratic dollars required to sort out who doesn’t agree with what and who shouldn’t pay for what.


    You Christians simply want to control others with your beliefs and ram your laws down our throats. I don’t give two craps what you believe about the fetus, you are free to believe what you want about it, and live your life accordingly. But don’t even try to force me to, or the approximately 78% of Canadians who disagree with you as well.

    Good luck with that.

  8. Terry

    I don’t think Catholic hospitals currently offer tubal litigations, but I do know where I live there is political & community pressure for one small town Catholic hospital to withdraw from operating the hospital or allow the procedures to be performed. Is this a unique case? Maybe…for now?

    Christian doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical staff do work in hospitals that aren’t Catholic or Christian run btw, that’s what I was referring to in the first part of my previous comment–they should be legally and morally allowed to decline anything to do with enabling abortions & sterilization procedures. Receptionists, switchboard, frontline staff being called for abortion enquiries (where can I get one) or “where can I get a prescrip for the morning after pill”, should be able to say “sorry–can’t help you, you’re on your own with that one”.

    Maybe the answer is Christian medical staff or medical practitioners who are morally against the precedures or the enabling of the procedures should only work in Catholic hospitals and Christian run facilities…or else? Because, you know, some people–oddly enough–think Christians should have no choice in the matter, because THEY think it’s ok.

    Funny that.

    Last time I checked TNT, I have every right as a citizen to voice concerns over how my tax dollars are spent. This isn’t China ;). But then…maybe that’s just the whiny, controlling Catholic in me that just wants a say or a choice ;).

  9. Terry

    Here are two links regarding the Catholic hospital I mentioned:



    The existence of Catholic health care in Saskatchewan has been called into question as
    a result of a controversy surrounding a tubal ligation policy at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in

  10. The Hippocratic Oath is absolutely relevant, and modernized versions of it (albeit dumbed-down politically correct versions) are still used by most Med schools.

    TnT, the “choice” argument just doesn’t hold water with me. You’re talking about a future human life that has no choice when that vacuum extractor starts sucking. I’m glad your mother didn’t abort you in your fetus days, otherwise we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    My values don’t have room for compromise when it comes to protecting innocent life. This is why anti-abortion and pro-capital punishment stances are completely compatible. Both are necessary for the protection of INNOCENT human life.

  11. TnT

    *You* believe, that the early fetus is a human being. However, the majority of Canada does not. Or, at least prefers to allow abortions.

    If you don’t want to answer the phone at a hospital in a country where almost 80% of the population supports choice, then get another job. Period. As far as the actual doctors performing the abortion, I have no trouble with doctors excusing themselves from that based on religious beliefs. Why would I not.

    How you would you feel, if god forbid your child were in a horrible accident, and went into hospital requiring blood transfusions to live. Unfortunately for you, and your child, the only available doctor, is a Jehovah’s witness, who refuses to give a blood transfusion. Your child dies.

    How would you feel about that?

  12. Oy, you’re a cliche machine, TnT. And your hypothetical about a blood transfusion is simply a ridiculous dodge. There is no parallel there. Abortion is never medically necessary.

  13. philanthropist

    Killing kids before they’re born is just that, killing.

    Everyone has a right to their own body, there should be no law against suicide for example. In that respect, their body their choice, but the state doesn’t have to enable them to kill their kids, nor should the medical community assist them.

  14. TnT

    abortion is never medically necessary? What planet do you live on? There are absolutely medially necessary abortions to save the life of the mother.

    My analogy is perfectly valid. I used an example of a doctor who would not perform a procedure based on religious beliefs.

    So no, don’t dodge the question. It’s a damn good analogy, and that’s why you won’t address it.

    So, what would you think in this case????

  15. TnT

    Unfortunately philanthropist, the majority of Canadians disagree with you.

    Nature often aborts fetuses through miscarriages. Is that nature murdering kids too? Are unused eggs that die kids dying too?

    No yours is a religious belief, not medical fact. Go ahead and have your religious belief, just don’t enforce YOUR religious beliefs on me and the majority who don’t want it.

  16. I won’t answer your medical analogy because it’s absurd. But I ask you answer this: would it have been OK for your mother to have aborted you, if that was her choice?

  17. TnT

    You have GOT to be kidding me…

    You are going to sit there and tell me my analogy was absurd, and then ask the dumbest question of all time? Is it ok for my mother to abort me? Well how the HELL would I know? I wouldn’t have known because I wasn’t there! Was I? What the hell kind of dumb question is THAT?

    No my analogy stands well. The comparison is to a doctor who refuses to perform a procedure based on his religious beliefs. Soooo basic!

    It’s the same thing! You won’t answer because you know damn well it’s a very good question! So let’s hear it!

    Is it ok if my mommy aborts me… come on you guys, get it together!

  18. My point made…game, set, and match.

  19. TnT

    what point?

    Come on you can’t just make up some ridiculous analogy and say well if you don’t like that one I don’t like yours? Is this the kind of tactics pro lifers use?

    I actually answered yours. You didn’t mine.

    I said I don’t know because I wasn’t there. If my mother did, I wouldn’t have known. So how on earth, would I answer that question?

    So now, answer mine, I asked first after all.

  20. TnT

    I am still interested in hearing any of the 3 pro lifer’s here, what they think of my question I posed. A few posts back before we got sidetracked on whether I thought it was ok if I was aborted (or something like that) we were talking about the issue of doctors in our medical system refusing to perform procedures against their beliefs. I posed what I thought was a very basic question.

    Let’s also add to that that I am very against the military action being currently taken, and I would need my tax dollars being used to fund that returned. There are also a lot of other items such as funding anything Christian be it schools etc. I’m thinking perhaps because we have a very diverse country, we could develop quite a list of what we all cannot in good conscience fund according to our beliefs.

  21. I’m glad you enjoy this forum so much, TnT, but you’re sounding like a scary, lonely narcissist. Those who don’t agree with TnT don’t owe him an explanation on his timetable. I suggest starting your own blog, and exploring your own ideas through your own agenda. You’re always welcome back here to comment on specific posts.

  22. TnT

    Ah here comes the name calling.

    It doesn’t matter when. Just because I posted twice in 2 days doesn’t suggest I’m imposing a timetable. Or have I broken some unsaid rule that says, don’t post for x number of days in between comments.

    I realize that someone posting an alternative point of view here to the 3 is perhaps jarring, but isn’t that what blogs are for? Or would you prefer only those that agree with you?

    I’ve commented on 2 ‘conservative’ blogs, and both seem to be very uninterested in being challenged in any meaningful way, which I find very interesting.

    Well ok, I’ll stay with my regular forum and stop bothering the 2 conservative bloggers I tried commenting on.

  23. Flaggman –

    this is how idiots like “TnT” wriggle out of their advocacy of pre-natal infanticide – this is what it is – by hiding behind the good ol’ liberal terminology like “choice” (you’re either pro- or anti-choice, don’t you know?), and then make incredible statements such as “I’m not pro-abortion.”

    It is incredible the mental contortions this individual must go through in order to say what they say…

    It’s like saying, I’m not in favour of robbery or murder, but if others want to make this choice…


  24. MA

    Flaggman — agreed! Last year was a great year at the movies in that respect.

    2 others actually should be mentioned too, under this banner. One is “Waitress” (like “Knocked Up” and “Juno”, definitely very secular people and behaviour involved). The woman in question is definitely in circumstances that the average mushy-middle or pro-abort would say favours abortion. I don’t condone the immoral plot developments, but it definitely makes a statement, given the woman’s circumstances.

    The other, which I HEARTILY enjoyed, but had to go to the U.S. to see was “Bella”. http://www.bellamoviesite.com/

    It won an award at T.O.’s Int’l Film Festival (of pro-aborts and their pals!) of all places, along with some others.

    I can’t seem to find out any info about when or if it will be coming to Canada. Anyone know?? THIS is a PHENOMENAL story!

    It got limited release in the U.S. and did superbly for such release.

  25. MA

    And here’s as real-life little documentary (or a piece of it), that may win an award….featuring one of Morgentaler’s many born victims.


  26. MA

    That other awesome pro-life film I referred to earlier — Bella — is finally coming to Canada! Yay! It’s a must-see!


  27. orthai25

    Worldwide Update for Movie Box Office Results, Weekend Box Office Results, Movie Reviews and Movie Trailers Links

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