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4months3days.jpgWhen is a Romanian movie about abortion in the dark days under Communism not about Romania or Communism? When it opens in the United States, where abortion and childbirth is not only a political issue, but a hot topic in theaters.
Critics have noted the bleak contrast between the Golden Globe-nominated “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days,” about two women dealing with an illegal abortion in 1980s Bucharest, and the popular, laid-back comedy “Juno,” about a teenager who opts to give her baby up for adoption. Last weekend, Washington Post reviewer Ann Hornaday called “Juno” and its companion comedy from last year, “Knocked Up,” “consoling fictions” that ignore “the high stakes of women’s reproductive lives.” She praised Romanian director Cristian Mungiu for portraying “how disconnected abortion had become from morality under the Ceausescu regime.”


Hornaday didn’t convince Tim Graham, a blogger for Newsbusters, a site that keeps a stern eye on what it calls the liberal media. Graham says the Post’s reviewer is betraying her bias. According to Hornaday, he chides “only pro-abortion movies are honest about the lives of women. Women who finish their pregnancies are somehow outside reality, at least at the cineplex.”
And it’s true, “Juno” doesn’t exactly ignore the reality of abortion. The heroine visits an abortion clinic, and rejects that course. And the movie drives home the point that a young pregnant woman, even with support from parents and friends, goes her way alone. “Juno” may be escapism, as Hornaday says, but it’s hard to think that any of the teens that filled the theater I saw “Juno” in will be prompted to go to term because the movie made out-of-wedlock childbirth look like a jammin’ idea.
If Graham wins the round, though, he shouldn’t be encouraged about the bigger contest. Our heroine in “Juno” bails on her abortion after she learns that her baby already has its fingernails, but mostly, it seems, this cool-obsessed teen finds the whole pregnancy prevention deal to be a drag. “Juno” doesn’t ask whether women should have a choice; that’s the given that makes her story interesting. As a cultural milestone, “Juno” can only be taken as a post-abortion-debate movie–and that should make pro-lifers more nervous than any abortion horror story.

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