Patrick Craine

Parents beware: ‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn’ features disturbing treatment of abortion

Patrick Craine
Patrick Craine
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November 16, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Parents with children who are thinking of watching the latest Twilight film, Breaking Dawn – Part I, should be aware that it features disturbing discussions about abortion that carry ambiguous, if not openly anti-life messages, according to a professor at a Canadian college.

In this fourth film, set for release on Friday, heroes Bella and Edward get married and then are shocked to discover on the honeymoon that Bella is pregnant.  The story appears to carry a strong pro-life message, as Bella quickly realizes that her life is at risk but chooses to keep the half-vampire, half-human child despite strong pressure from Edward and other characters for her to obtain an abortion.

“All Bella wants is for that baby to survive and she’s willing to kill herself for it,” comments actress Nikki Reed in a promo video.

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In a society that largely accepts abortion-on-demand, let alone abortion to save the mother’s life, the storyline comes across as strongly counter-cultural.  Indeed, the book sparked fan protests over a perceived “anti-abortion” theme when it was released in 2008.

But Dr. Christine Schintgen, assistant professor of literature at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Barry’s Bay, Ontario, argues that the pro-life angle is “superficial” and is “counter-balanced” by stronger anti-life messages that are communicated by the power of imagery.

‘The fetus is incompatible with your body’

Poignantly, as Bella’s pregnancy gets dangerous, the character Carlisle declares: “The fetus is incompatible with your body.”

Schintgen says that this is a theme that runs through the entire conflict around the pregnancy, playing into arguments by abortion advocates that pit the child against the mother.

“It creates the image of a fetus as monster,” said Schintgen.  “In this case, it’s literally true.  The fetus is portrayed as this freakish, monstrous life form.”

She noted that director Bill Condon, who is known for directing one of the gory Candyman films, has described Breaking Dawn – Part I as a combination of romance and horror.  But according to Schintgen, “There’s a way in which the fetus acts as the source of the horror.”

“It reminds me a little bit of the scenes from Alien, where you’ve got this alien life-form inside you that’s destroying you.  That’s definitely not a pro-life image,” she explained.

“Of course no woman’s going to think, ‘oh I’ve got a vampire in me.’  They know the difference intellectually.  But I’m talking about the power of imagery,” she said.

A model of chastity who advocates abortion?

Schintgen emphasized that the example of Bella’s heroic act is counter-balanced by Edward’s intense efforts to coerce her into an abortion.  She said Edward’s actions are a particularly strong counter-witness given that he is repeatedly held up for his “traditional” values, and served as the primary model of purity for those contending the books carry a chastity message.

“It kind of gets young women used to the idea that normal and admirable people would push for an abortion,” she explained.  “Yes Bella stands up to them, and in the context, super-heroically at the cost of basically her own mortal existence.  But is that really what’s going to win over in their own lives if they’re in a crisis pregnancy?”

“It certainly gives the impression that abortion would have been a legitimate and normal option,” she added.

Valuing the baby devalues the woman?

She also argues that the storyline could lend credence to claims by abortion advocates that pregnancy is dangerous and carries a real risk of maternal death if abortion is not available.

Schintgen says the story’s horrid depiction of the child’s birth, during which Bella’s spine breaks and which she survives only by becoming a vampire, sends a “troubling” message to youth about childbirth by “twisting it into something unnatural.”

She said that “for young women who are in a position of being pregnant, this scene would create negative associations in their mind surrounding birth.”

Further, because Bella would have died had she not become a vampire, the story could make it seem that death would have been the normal result of her refusing the abortion.

“It kind of resonates with that sense of the annihilation of the woman,” said Schintgen,  “the idea that if we give value to the baby, we are necessarily at the same time devaluing the woman.”

Broken headboard and beat-up woman – the “perfect honeymoon”?

The professor also expressed serious concerns regarding the story’s portrayal of sexuality, especially the fact that it seems to glorify violent sex.

The couple’s wedding night has been, by far, the most anticipated aspect of the film.  According to director Bill Condon, “These are books that have become very important to millions of people and every one of those people fantasizes about what that perfect honeymoon looks like.”

But in the course of their consummation, which is depicted on-screen, Edward breaks the headboard and sends pillow feathers flying everywhere.  In the book, Bella wakes up the next morning black and blue.

Schintgen has in the past opposed claims that the series is “pro-chastity,” arguing that it actually celebrates lustful and purely recreational sex.  While Edward and Bella abstain before marriage, she said, they have an unhealthy “obsession with sex divorced from any desire for children.”

“They both assume going into the marriage that they are not able to have children, nor would they want any if they could,” she explained.  Their union is “divorced from any sense of the purpose of marriage, which should be unitive but also open to bringing new life into the world.”

An R-rated film edited down to PG-13: ‘We didn’t hold anything back’

A Miami Herald article Wednesday revealed that the first cut of Breaking Dawn – Part I earned an R rating, as anticipated by fans because of the mature themes, but the filmmakers explain that they were able to edit it down to PG-13 without “hold[ing] anything back.”

“More than anything, I wanted to make sure that the intensity of two specific things — the first time they make love during their honeymoon and the birth scene — wasn’t watered down,” Condon, who also directed the 2004 biopic on sexologist Alfred Kinsey, told the Herald.  “It turns out that allowing the audience to use their imaginations to fill in what’s happening makes the scene even more powerful.”

“Twilight has always had the potential to be a horror movie, but it hasn’t quite embraced it until we get to this story,” he added.  “I hope it doesn’t upset the girls too much. We’ll see.”

“People assume a great deal was edited out of the movie in order to get the PG-13,” said screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg. “But we didn’t hold anything back. In fact, when it came to the birth scene, I was going to cut out the, um, sort of Caesarean, if you will. [Edward rips Bella’s stomach and womb open with his fangs to deliver the baby.] I was saying ‘We don’t really need to see that.’ But Bill was like ‘No no no. It’s gotta be in there.’”

The PG-13 rating states “Parents strongly cautioned,” and warns about “sexuality” and “partial nudity.”

“What they’ve done is to take very disturbing and dark thematic material, but in terms of the actual visual presentation and language, they’ve kept it just this side of the border between PG-13 and R,” explained Schintgen.

Morally muddled treatment of fundamental issues

Schintgen said she felt a need to raise concerns about Twilight because “people might be taken in by the partially good message in it, the half-truths that are presented by a superficial exposure to the film.”

“On the surface there is a pro-life message, but that’s often how we can be fooled,” she explained.  “If there’s an element of good, we kind of take the whole package.  And I think the whole package is very problematic to say the least.”

“If you confuse young people on these fundamental issues, which is what a morally muddled treatment of the issues will do, then you’re really setting them up for a fall,” she warned.

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A Planned Parenthood facility in Denver, Colorado
Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin

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Colorado judge tosses suit alleging Planned Parenthood used state funds to pay for abortions

Dustin Siggins Dustin Siggins Follow Dustin
By Dustin Siggins

Alliance Defending Freedom "will likely appeal" a Monday court decision dismissing their suit alleging Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains illegally used state funds to pay for abortions, an ADF lawyer told LifeSiteNews.

The ADF lawsuit claims that $1.4 million went from state government agencies to a Planned Parenthood abortion affiliate through Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Denver County District Court Judge Andrew McCallin dismissed the case on the basis that ADF could not prove the funds paid for abortions. But ADF maintains that funding an abortion facility is indirectly paying for abortions, which violates state law.

ADF senior counsel Michael Norton -- whose wife, former Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, filed the lawsuit – told LifeSiteNews that "no one is above the law, including Colorado politicians who are violating our state’s constitution by continuing to fund Planned Parenthood’s abortion business with state taxpayer dollars."

"The State of Colorado even acknowledges that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate. The Denver court seems to have agreed with that fact and yet granted motions to dismiss based on a technicality," said Norton.

According to Colorado law, "no public funds shall be used by the State of Colorado, its agencies or political subdivisions to pay or otherwise reimburse, either directly or indirectly, any person, agency or facility for the performance of any induced abortion." There is a stipulation that allows for "the General Assembly, by specific bill, [to] authorize and appropriate funds to be used for those medical services necessary to prevent the death of either a pregnant woman or her unborn child under circumstances where every reasonable effort is made to preserve the life of each."

According to court documents, the Colorado law was affirmed by state voters in 1984, with an appeal attempt rejected two years later. In 2001, an outside legal firm hired by Jane Norton -- who was lieutenant governor at the time -- found that Planned Parenthood was "subsidizing rent" and otherwise providing financial assistance to Planned Parenthood Services Corporation, an abortion affiliate. After the report came out, and Planned Parenthood refused to disassociate itself from the abortion affiliate, the state government stopped funding Planned Parenthood.

Since 2009, however, that has changed, which is why the lawsuit is filed against Planned Parenthood, and multiple government officials, including Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

According to ADF legal counsel Natalie Decker, the fact that Planned Parenthood sent funds to the abortion affiliate should have convinced McCallin of the merits of the case. "The State of Colorado and the Denver court acknowledged that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars, in addition to millions of 'federal' tax dollars, flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate," said Decker.

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"Without even having the facts of the case developed, the Denver court seems to have granted motions to dismiss filed by the State of Colorado and Planned Parenthood on grounds the term 'indirectly' could not mean what Ms. Norton and Governor Owens said it meant in 2002 when they defunded Planned Parenthood."

"That, of course, is the plain meaning of Colo. Const., Art. V, § 50 which was implemented by the citizens of Colorado, and the reason for Ms. Norton’s lawsuit."

Decker told LifeSiteNews that "Colorado law is very clear," and that the state law "prohibits Colorado tax dollars from being used to directly or indirectly pay for induced abortions."

She says her client "has been denied the opportunity to fully develop the facts of the case and demonstrate exactly what the Colorado tax dollars have been used for." Similarly, says Decker, it is not known "exactly what those funds were used for. At this time, there is simply no way to conclude that tax dollars have not been used to directly pay for abortions or abortion inducing drugs and devices."

"What we do know is that millions of Colorado tax dollars have flowed through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate, which leads to the inescapable conclusion that those tax dollars are being used to indirectly pay for abortions."

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains did not return multiple requests for comment about the lawsuit.

The dismissal comes as Planned Parenthood fights an investigation by the state's Republican attorney general over a video by Live Action, as well as a lawsuit by a mother whose 13-year old daughter had an abortion in 2012 that she alleges was covered up by Planned Parenthood. The girl, who was being abused by her stepfather, was abused for months after the abortion.

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Courtesy of Online for Life
Steve Weatherbe

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Fledgling high-tech pro-life group marks 2,000 babies saved: 2-3 saved per day

Steve Weatherbe
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Online for Life, the Dallas-based pro-life marketing agency, saved its two-thousandth unborn baby earlier this year and is well on its way to saving its three thousandth by 2015.

“We are getting better all the time at what we do,” says founder Brian Fisher. “It used to be one baby saved every four to six weeks and now its two or three a day.”

But the most significant save? “It was the very first one,” he says, recalling the phone call from a crisis centre a month after OFL’s 2012 startup.  “And for me personally it was just a massive turning point … because [of] all the work and the money and testing and the volunteers and everything that led up to that moment. All the frustration of that was washed away in an instant because a child had been rescued that was about to be killed.”

Though increasing market savvy has led Online for Life to expand offline, the core of the non-profit, donor-financed operation remains SEO -- search engine optimization -- targeting young women who have just discovered they are pregnant and gone onto the Web to find the nearest abortion clinic.

Instead, they find the nearest crisis pregnancy center at the top of their results page. Since OFL went online it has linked with a network of 41 such centers, including two of its own it started this year, in a positive feedback loop that reinforces effective messaging first at the level of the Web, then at the first telephone call between the clinic and the pregnant woman, and finally at the first face-to-face meeting.

“Testing is crucial,” says Fisher. “We test everything we do.” Early on, Online for Life insisted the clinics it served have an ultrasound machine, because the prevailing wisdom in the prolife movement was that “once they saw their baby on ultrasound, they would drop the idea of having an abortion.” While the organization still insists on the ultrasound, its own testing and feedback from the CPCs indicates that three quarters of the women they see already have children. “They’ve already seen their own children on ultrasound and are still planning to abort.” So ultrasound images have lost their punch.

OFL has had to move offline to reach a significant minority who have neither computers, tablets, or cell phones.  Traditional electronic media spots as well as bus ads and billboards carry the message to them.

As well, says Fisher, “unwanted pregnancy used to be a high-school age problem; now that’s gone down in numbers and the average age of women seeking abortion has gone up to 24.” By that age, he says, they are “thoroughly conditioned by the abortion culture. Even before they got pregnant, they have already decided they would have an abortion if they did get pregnant.”

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What they need—and fast, in the first two minutes of the first phone call—is sympathy, support, and a complete absence of judgement. Online for Life is always gathering information from its network on what responses are most effective—and this can vary city to city. The organization offers training to clinic volunteers and staff that stresses a thorough knowledge of the services on tap. “Any major city has all sorts of services—housing, education, health—available,” says Fisher.

The problem that OFL was designed to address was the crisis pregnancy centers’ market penetration. Three percent of women with unwanted pregnancies were reaching out to the CPCs, and seven per cent of those who did reach out were having their babies. “So about 2.1 children were being saved for every 1,000 unwanted pregnancies,” says Fisher. “That’s not nearly enough.”

So Fisher and two fellow volunteers dreamed of applying online marketing techniques to the problem in 2009. Three years later Fisher was ready to leave his executive position at an online marketing agency to go full-time with the life-saving agency. Now they have 63 employees, most of them devoted to optimizing the penetration in each of the markets served by their participating crisis centers.

The results speak for themselves. Where OFL has applied its techniques, especially with its own clinics, as many as 15-18 percent of the targeted population of women seeking abortions get directed to nearby crisis pregnancy centers. “It depends on the centres’ budgets and on how many volunteers they have to be on the phones through the day and night,” he says. “But we are going to push it higher. We hope to save our 2,500th child by the end of the year.”

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Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

Shock: UK mom abandons disabled daughter, keeps healthy son after twin surrogacy

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By Pete Baklinski

A UK woman who is the biological mother of twins born from a surrogate mom, has allegedly abandoned one of the children because she was born with a severe muscular condition, while taking the girl's healthy sibling home with her.

The surrogate mother, also from the UK — referred to as "Jenny" to protect her identity — revealed to The Sun the phone conversation that took place between herself and the biological mother over the fate of the disabled girl.

“I remember her saying to me, “She’d be a f****** dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her? No one would want to adopt a disabled child,’” she said.

Jenny, who has children of her own, said she decided to become a surrogate to “help a mother who couldn’t have children.” She agreed to have two embryos implanted in her womb and to give birth for £12,000 ($20,000 USD).

With just six weeks to the due date, doctors told Jenny she needed an emergency caesarean to save the babies. It was not until a few weeks after the premature births that the twin girl was diagnosed with congenital myotonic dystrophy.

When Jenny phoned the biological mother to tell her of the girl’s condition, the mother rejected the girl.

Jenny has decided along with her partner to raise the girl. They have called her Amy.

“I was stunned when I heard her reject Amy,” Jenny said. “She had basically told me that she didn’t want a disabled child.”

Jenny said she felt “very angry” towards the girl’s biological parents. "I hate them for what they did.”

The twins are now legally separated. A Children and Family Court has awarded the healthy boy to the biological mother and the disabled girl to her surrogate.

The story comes about two weeks after an Australian couple allegedly abandoned their surrogate son in Thailand after he was born with Down syndrome, while taking the healthy twin girl back with them to Australia.

Rickard Newman, director of Family Life, Pro-Life & Child and Youth Protection in the Diocese of Lake Charles, called the Australian story a “tragedy” that “results from a marketplace that buys and sells children.”

“Third-party reproduction is a prism for violations against humanity. IVF and the sperm trade launched a wicked industry that now includes abortion, eugenics, human trafficking, and deliberate family fragmentation,” he said. 

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