When does life begin? Conception? Implantation? Birth? The movie "October Baby" presents a different take on the abortion discussion--what about the babies who survive abortion?
"October Baby" is about an 18-year-old woman who has several health problems: asthma, seizures, and hip problems. She finds out after a bad seizure which lands her in the hospital that she is adopted. The bigger shock is finding out she was born after a failed abortion at 20 weeks gestation. Her parents finally tell her because all of her health problems are related to the fact that she was born so premature.
I did a rotation through neonatal ICU during pharmacy school. I saw babies who were born at 24 weeks gestation, and they were tiny, thin, struggling babies. That's pretty much the cut-off for survival, although a few younger than that do survive. These were babies whose mothers went into labor early, sometimes due to poor prenatal care or poor health of the mother, and sometimes due to car accidents or injuries that required an early c-section delivery.
Like the woman in the movie, there are people walking around today who survived abortion and were born anyway. Some of them have health problems like the movie character did, and others have physical injuries, like missing limbs. The fact is that these people exist, and I cried so much during that movie thinking about the pain they carry to know that their mothers didn't want them.
The character in the movie had the same reaction. After the mind-blowing realization of her existence settled in, she went off to find her birth mother. The movie is about that journey, both the actual trip and the emotional trip she takes.
Her adoptive parents have their own story to tell her--how they wanted their own children and suffered loss, then got the chance to adopt. And how they prayed every day in the intensive care that she would survive. They just didn't know how or when they would ever tell her the truth.
The truth is that she was not wanted by her birth mother, but she was wanted by her adoptive parents. I know some on the "pro-choice" side will call this movie propaganda, but I completely disagree. I don't think we can talk about abortion in sterile terms, as a nurse in the movie says, "tissue" not a "baby." We have to think about the long-term collateral damage to the women who have abortions and a society that doesn't protect the innocent.
Life does begin at conception--it's just that not everybody values life that can't defend itself yet with the same vigor.