Obvious Child Is The First Movie To Ever Handle An Unplanned Pregnancy Realistically

donna bathroom obvious child jenny slate

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Obvious Child could very well be the best abortion rom-com I’ve ever seen. Also the only one. Despite the fact that it’s estimated that 35% of women will have an abortion in their lifetime, 0% of movies handle unplanned pregnancy realistically. Okay, maybe that’s unfair. But I can’t think of one movie off the top of my head where a protagonist gets pregnant and makes the decision to have an abortion.

When Donna (Jenny Slate) learns she’s pregnant in Obvious Child after a one night stand with a guy named Max (Jake Lacy), she immediately goes ahead and schedules an abortion. Yes, that’s right. Rather than spending the movie going back and forth as to whether she should have a baby, she goes ahead and makes an appointment to abort. And because she just goes ahead and makes the decision to have an abortion without waxing poetic about it, the movie becomes about so much more than that decision. I’m not going to say having an abortion is a casual thing that women should treat like a routine facial, but it’s also not a huge deal. It’s a medical procedure and the movie treats it like one. And because the movie doesn’t make a big deal out of Donna’s decision to have an abortion, there’s lot of time left to talk about other aspects of Donna’s life. Because Donna’s so much more than her uterus.

We’re so used to talking about the do’s and don’ts of abortion in terms of the most extreme cases — late-term, rape and incest — that we often forget about the other kind of abortion. The kind women get because they don’t want to have a baby. (Or for the pro-lifers out there who will scream “duh adoption,” they don’t want to be pregnant.) Women don’t need a “good reason” to get an abortion. The fact that they don’t want to be pregnant and raise a child is a good enough reason. Donna didn’t want the baby so Donna didn’t have the baby. Case closed.

donna crying obvious child gaby hoffman jenny slate

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While this movie makes the concept look so obvious, it’s a scenario that we rarely see played out. Instead we’re always stuck with leading ladies who get pregnant accidentally and decide to just have the baby and see what happens. Although I guess “decide” is a strong word. Sometimes abortion’s thrown around lightly as an option, but for the most part it’s not even really brought up in these movies. Woman gets pregnant, woman makes it clear she’s not all ready for a child, baby daddy affirms that they’re not at all ready, woman has the baby, everything works itself out! Usually with the help of a hilarious musical montage that involves crib building hijinks.

The lesson that you learn from all these movies is that your love for your new baby will make up for everything else. Even though we all know that in real life giving birth doesn’t solve money issues or fix relationship problems or even begin to address career consequences. It’s great Seth Rogen read the baby books in Knocked Up, but I still don’t get why a baby would result in he and Katherine living happily ever after. They had drunk sex once! That’s it. But good luck raising a kid together.

So even though I enjoy a brainless rom-com as much as the next person, it gets frustrating to see these women just pop out these babies without even considering an abortion. Especially when we know that many women in their situation would at least seriously discuss the option. While I’m not under any illusion that Obvious Child will completely change unplanned pregnancy plots in movies, I’m hopeful it will influence a few writers to be a tad more realistic when they’re writing these stories.

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    • ES

      lovely recap and i completely agree, we should see more of these stories come to fruition. there are a lot of women that abort and it doesn’t mean they can’t carry out a movie plot. my friend got an abortion when we were 17, and it was the obvious choice and I knew she was going to do it. she knew that she was not ready for a child at seventeen, like most of us aren’t. she made the decision, did it and it was over. there was no big deal made about it, no fuss. it wasn’t public knowledge but there was also no judgement. we bring it up from time to time but as you said “case closed”.

      • Jenni

        That’s exactly how it should be!

    • Olivia Wilson

      It’s ABOUT DAMN TIME.

    • lexijoy4

      Can’t wait! I love Jenny Slate, she’s so relatable, I’m sure she’ll make the part even more amazing. I’m sure this movie will have tons of critics, but maybe it will at least plant a seed in the media for more realistic films. Girls are usually the ones watching and re-watching these rom-coms that make pregnancy and having a child look like they can have fairy tale endings, and that’s simply not the case. And I know I’m not the only one that has unrealistic expectations from movies.

      • Jenni

        She’s so great in it! Can’t wait for you to see it.

    • Joe

      This is so F–ked up. “It’s not that big of a deal,” ‘she had the abortion simply because she didn’t want to be pregnant’. Killing someone because you were too irresponsible to use protection or pull out and don’t want to have to live with the consequences of your poor decisions is great. Real great, and you glorify it; you guys are some pretty f–cked up people.

      • Jenni

        I would argue it’s more fucked to compare raising a child to “living with the consequences of your irresponsibility.” Then again, I’m just pretty into the idea of parents raising children who are wanted and not children who are simply there to serve as a punishment for having sex.

      • JenH1986

        You do understand that “pulling out” is not an effective form of birth control, correct? And that short of abstinence no form of birth control is 100% effective? So people make all the “right” choices and still end up pregnant. So unless you’re out there adopting all those unwanted babies STFU.

      • http://flockeoseagulls.flavors.me/ Frances “Librle” Locke

        I think my IQ dropped 10 points from reading your comment, dude. “Pulling out” is not effective, and there are other ways to get pregnant than rape or “too lazy for birth control.”

    • MCR

      You’re certainly right about the lack of realism on this subject. The closest I’ve seen to a realistic view was Citizen Ruth. It was a weird, farcical view, but at least it not only presented both sides, but ridiculed both sides equally, as well as ridiculing the pregnant woman herself and her grotesque situation. I’m not sure you could get away with the same thing as a drama.

      • Jenni

        Ooo I’ve never seen Citizen Ruth, but happy to hear there is something else out there.

    • StarNerd

      My mom got pregnant at 17, and due to her uber Dutch- Catholic parents was unable to even consider an abortion. She was sent away to have the baby
      and give it up for adoption, all nice and tidy (ironically she was adopted by a
      very well off Jewish family). It really fucked up my mom mentally though, and
      my dad, whom she started dating after she found out she was pregnant. And my
      sister and I after we found out (at ages 14 and 12 respectively)
      We met her and
      have since formed a relationship with her, but I resented both her and my
      mother for a long time (as angsty teens do), and I still falter when it comes to describing our
      relationship. Sister? Half-sister? I would never wish her dead or anything, but
      I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like if my mother was ever
      given the choice she should have had, and had chosen abortion. So I applaud this movie and your review, for showing people that it is NOT the end of the world to have an abortion!

      • Jenni

        I won’t ruin the movie for you, but the ending is uplifting!

    • Samantha Escobar

      I’m so fucking sick of movies like Juno where the girl is SO CLOSE and then everyone’s like “but fingernails” and she’s like “oh you’re right i can’t be a murderer.” There are no movies besides this that I can think of where the woman isn’t down with having a kid; even in ones where she miscarries or needs an operation to save her life, it’s still obvious she wanted the child. Or, of course, there are tons of ones where the woman will die if she gives birth, but she opts to anyway because the moral of the story is that women should always give their lives for a fetus’s. [/rant]

      TL;DR — I want to see this.

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    • Spicoli

      Fast times at ridgemont high had one.

      • Benita

        Shhh! you can’t ask the children who write for this site to believe that movies were made before “Clueless”.

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    • Abortion

      I got pregnant from my boyfriend. We love each other, but neither of us were (or are currently) ready for a baby, nor were we ready for me to go through pregnancy. I scheduled an abortion, and I was all ready to go ahead with it. Then I miscarried. It was the worst physical pain I have ever experienced, but that’s besides the point. I tell some people that I miscarried and they feel SO sympathetic and sensitive towards me. Then I say I was going to abort it anyway, and they stop associating themselves with me; I’m all of a sudden an evil, wicked person. How dare I mess with fate. I’m a murderer. Fuck people, is all I’m saying.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        I’m really sorry you had to go through that. People are big dummies, and I’m glad you made a choice you were comfortable with.