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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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