By Clare Walker, Holy Trinity In-House Writer
Since infancy, Hannah Lawson has suffered serious threats to her health: numerous surgeries on her hips as a little baby, debilitating asthma, a seizure disorder, and now, as a nineteen-year old college freshman, deep emotional disturbances. Yet, despite these disadvantages, Hannah has soldiered on, and as the movie October Baby opens she takes the stage as the lead in her college play.
Moments later, she succumbs to a serious asthma attack and collapses. In the hospital, she learns two shocking things about herself and her family. The first is that her mom and dad are not her biological parents. They adopted Hannah shortly after her birth. The second is that all Hannah’s health problems are due to the traumatic way she came into the world: she survived an attempted abortion.
Hannah embarks on a mission to discover her past: who is her biological mother, and why didn’t she want her?
October Baby is a coming-of-age road movie inspired by the story of real-life abortion survivor Gianna Jessen, who survived her 17-year old mother’s attempt to abort her in the 30th week of pregnancy. It was no “back alley” abortion, either. Gianna’s story began well after Roe v Wade.
The film is unapologetically pro-life but is not shrill, harsh, or preachy. Every character and situation gets a sympathetic treatment, from Hannah’s adoptive parents, who realize too late that it was unwise to keep secret the circumstances of their daughter’s birth, to the nurse at the abortion clinic who saved Hannah’s life those many years ago by taking her to the hospital after the botched abortion. The most moving scenes of all, however, are the ones in which Hannah confronts her birth mother. The plight of the unwed expectant mother is sensitively handled, as is the power of forgiveness, both human and divine. As a bonus, the actress who portrays the birth mother tells her personal story in a brief behind-the-scenes interview that runs alongside the credits—even that brought me to tears.
The filmmakers, writer-directors Andrew and Jon Erwin, instinctively knew that a subject as controversial and emotional as abortion would be better served by telling a story rather than making a documentary. Indeed, in a world in which the culture-at-large has rejected both goodness and truth, argument falls on deaf ears. Speaking to the heart through beauty and artistry is sometimes the only thing left to reach people with positive messages and Christian values. But more often than not, it seems, “Christian” filmmakers end up producing self-conscious, ponderous, over-earnest movies with so much “message” that the story and the film itself suffer artistically. That is definitely not the case with October Baby. The story is solid, the photography and locations beautiful, the performances powerful.
If you’ve never gotten involved in the annual 40 Days for Life campaign, now is the perfect time—the fall campaign this year runs from September 26 through November 4. Jumpstart your prayerful pro-life activism with October Baby, and then check out the website for more ways to get involved in this important, life-affirming and life-saving work: www.40DaysForLife.com
Clare T. Walker, a Holy Trinity Parishioner since 2003, writes for the National Catholic Register (www.ncregister.com). She is also an independent fiction author. Here are some handy links to her website and her books:
Clare T. Walker
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