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“October Baby”: A pro-life film you must see

by | Jan 18, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

It’s been my pleasure (most of the time) to have read dozens of pro-life books and watched many of the films that teach an explicitly pro-life message or which layer respect for life in between the lines. A new, unabashedly pro-life film, October Baby, is premiering in theaters nationwide March 23.  

Having watched the film twice, what I will do is offer an outline and talk about a few salient points, rather than get into great detail. There are some real plot twists in this film, written by Jon Erwin and Theresa Preston, and since I suspect many of you and your families will attend a showing, I will avoid plot spoilers (with a couple of minor exceptions).

So what is October Baby about and when it comes to your town, why should you see the film, distributed by Provident Films?

October Baby begins with Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) about to step on stage for her theatrical debut in college.

In the audience is her overly protective physician dad, Jacob (John Schneider); Jason, the boy who has been her closest friend since childhood (Jason Burkey); and Jason’s girlfriend. You know about 10 seconds in that Hannah, a 19-year-old freshman, is head over heels in love with Jason.

After just a couple of lines of dialogue, she collapses on stage. Following a series of medical tests, a family secret is revealed by the attending physician. All the many physical problems, including epilepsy and asthma, that Hannah has suffered from point to one source, he says: Hanna’s premature “traumatic” birth.

After an awkward, eyes-averting pause in one fell swoop Hannah first learns her parents are not her biological parents. She is angry she was never told. Then, worse yet for the emotionally fragile Hannah, she learns she was adopted … after a failed abortion attempt!

Scrounging around trying to find out about the music score (which wonderfully enhances the scenes and weaves them together beautifully), I ran across a very helpful story in an Alabama newspaper. (Much of the film was shot in Alabama.)

Jon Erwin and his brother, Andrew, we learn, grew up working for ESPN, later branching out to direct music videos for Christian and secular groups. October Baby is their first full-length feature film.

Jon told the reporter that he and his brother “thought we were going to do a football movie, something noncontroversial.” All that changed when they saw a video of Gianna Jessen, who told her incredible story of surviving a failed abortion and being placed for adoption.

“Sometimes you go out to find a story, but nine times out of 10, the story finds you,” Andrew Erwin recalls. “We heard her story, and it just kind of captivated us.”

In the film Hannah has long felt disconnected, and writes in her journal that “I am drowning.” At some place tucked away deep in her soul, Hannah knows “something is missing,” and asks, “Why, God, do I feel unwanted?” Then she learns the truth which triggers even deeper anxiety and self-doubt.

She decides she must go back to Mobile, Alabama, to the hospital she was delivered at as a starting point to finding the woman “who didn’t want me.” What she will do if she finds her birth mother? She doesn’t know. Hannah just knows she is angry, made worse because she knows there are some who dismiss her as some kind of “Christian homeschooling freak”—whose “perfection” annoys them to no end.

Hannah confesses to Jason that she feels “stuck,” and that without at least attempting to find her birth mother, she will never be able to get on with her life. Why? Because she needs to know why she was unwanted—and no doubt a lot more.

While the narrative of October Baby begins with a failed abortion, the story’s thematic message transcends the particulars. It is a coming-of-age story. It is a story of redemption. It is a story of how working in an abortion clinic can shred the moral armor of perfectly decent people. It is a story of forgiveness. It is a love story. It is a story of family reconciliation. It is a story of a dad “letting go.” (Dad alert: if you have daughters, be prepared to choke up, early and often, and especially at the end.)

There are some wonderful individual performances, starting with Rachel Hendrix and John Schneider. But the show stealer, clearly, is Mary (Jasmine Guy). Ms. Guy plays the nurse who had been working at the abortion clinic when the abortion “failed.” (The film’s most obvious flaw is a clumsy reference to clinic violence as a way of explaining how a local authority would know about Mary and help Hannah find her after all these years.)

If you watch the meeting between Rachel and Mary at http://octoberbabymovie.net, my guess is you will be astounded by Ms. Guy’s terse but immensely powerful explanation of not only what took place 19 years before but what takes place everyday at a place where they kill for a living.

Your feedback is very important to improving National Right to Life News Today. Please send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com. If you like, join those who are following me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/daveha

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