Monday, January 13, 2014

Sarah's Choice

I watched the 2009 Christian movie, Sarah’s Choice, a couple of nights ago.  It starred Christian singer Rebecca St. James, and it also had Dick Van Patten, Charlene Tilton (Lucy from Dallas), and Staci Keanan (from My Two Dads and Step by Step) with a British accent.  I was looking for Charlene Tilton, and I initially thought that she was the lady who was playing Sarah’s best friend, who had long blonde hair, but I was wrong about that: actually, Charlene Tilton was playing the crusty abortion doctor who was telling Sarah that the fetus is not a real person!

Wikipedia says that the movie is “pro-life”, and the movie is indeed opposed to abortion.  Essentially, it’s about a woman named Sarah who is thinking of having an abortion, and her future older self, who had the abortion and ended up alone, was advising her not to go through with it.  Meanwhile, Sarah is having visions about what her life would be like if she had the child, and they are filled with marital happiness.

Did the movie get into any of the reasons that a woman might want to have an abortion?  Sure, the movie was anti-abortion, but did it demonstrate any attempt at balance?  I think that it tried to, on some level.  The abortion doctor tells Sarah that raising a baby costs thousands of dollars.  Sarah’s boyfriend, the baby’s father, is a prankster who is hesitant to settle down.  Sarah is up for a promotion, and she fears that she might lose that were she to remain pregnant and have the baby.  One of her female co-workers tells her that pregnant women in the workplace make it harder for the glass ceiling to be shattered, and comments by one of the male chauvinist executives indicate that not all of management is likely to be sympathetic to Sarah’s situation.  Meanwhile, Sarah’s best friend Megan feels guilty about an abortion that she had when she was younger, yet she also feels that she was not ready to raise a child at that time, due to a lack of financial resources, plus she does not believe that she would have the job that she has had she had the child.  Megan also says that the last she heard about the baby’s father was that he was delivering pizzas.

The thing is, though, Sarah does have a support network, for her sister Denise (Staci Keanan’s character) offers to adopt the child, and Sarah’s church loves her, even if she does not show up that often.  Meanwhile, her immature boyfriend’s uncle is giving him advice about what love truly is—-commitment through good and bad—-and the uncle relates that he himself married his wife after she had become pregnant.  Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with this kind of support network.

I do believe that the movie simplified some issues, even though it raised valuable points.  Sarah’s pastor (played by Dick Van Patten) told her that, ultimately, what matters is not her visions but what the word of God says, and Sarah herself agreed with her mother that abortion was a sin.  Sarah’s pastor told her that, if she followed God’s will, she would get back that light in her eyes that was missing for so long.  The pastor may have presumed that she should trust God through whatever obstacles came her way as a result of her obedience to God’s will.  Aside from the debate about whether or not abortion goes against the Bible (see here for a skeptic’s perspective), I question whether the Bible makes ambiguity go away, or if everything turns out all right if one simply follows it.  I would like to think so, but my hunch is that the real world is much harsher.  That’s why a support network is so important.

I did love the scene at the end where Sarah’s best friend was with her at church.  I like movies in which people who are antagonistic towards religion become more open to it, or arrive at a state to peace.  Maybe there is an evangelical within me, after all.  At the same time, I cringe at the prospect of people I know and like becoming right-wing evangelicals (not that the movie itself was right-wing, for it did seem to suggest that society should be supportive of women with unplanned pregnancies).

I also liked the scene in which Sarah’s sister Denise was talking with Sarah about her options.  Denise was a Christian, and yet Denise did not particularly care for her mother’s religious comments about abortion and shacking up being a sin.  Denise probably thought that her Mom meant well, but she realized that this wasn’t what Sarah needed to hear.  The reason that this scene stood out to me was that it reminded me that there are level-headed, sensitive ways to practice the faith.

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