December 1st, 2012
Film Report: Cider House Rules Review
In present society, abortions are a legal procedure that is preformed daily. Millions of women each year exercise their right to abort a fetus before the term of viability without legal repercussions. In 1973, The United States Supreme Court’s Ruling in favor of Roe vs. Wade granted women the right to choose. However, before this imperative decision by the Supreme Court, illegal abortions were implemented in unsanitary conditions. The 1999 film, “Cider House Rules”, directed by Lasse Hallestrom and based on a novel written in 1985 by John Irving, portrays the perspective of abortions back when women did not have the right to choose. The movie takes place during World War II in America, when the struggle between women and society over the laws of abortion was the most evident. It is with consideration of our history, and the examples depicted in the movie “Cider House Rules,” that I believe in each woman's right to choose whether or not abortion is meant for their particular situation. There has always been a heated debate on human rights, and that of a woman and her fetus. The question to whom should have the right to choose and the right to life is where this argument has continued to go back and forth. “Cider House Rules” gives a modern perspective on abortions during the past, and allows us to appreciate the rights we have now in a contemporary society. Unlike the present, during the 1950’s when the movies time frame was based, abortions were illegal and women did not have the right to choose. No matter what the circumstances, a woman had to carry the fetus to full term; her only options being to keep it or to give it up for adoption. At that time, there was no other legal choice. Without options, women during this era would set out to find a doctor who would illegally abort their fetus for them. Considering the national ban of contraceptives was not uplifted until 1965, the only legal way for a woman to avoid pregnancy was through abstinence (MoreInfoPlease). This does not account for the unavoidable impregnation from rape or incest. The uncertainty and inability to protect your body from having to bear an unwanted child is why each case should be determined separately. Women deserve the right to choose, because the law is unable to acknowledge and determine each case individually. “Cider House Rules” showcases many of these situations. The movie is a testament of a young man trying to find his place in American society. Along the way, his morals and beliefs are tested. Homer Wells, who was twice adopted and returned, is raised by the orphanage doctor, Wilbur Larch. Larch quickly realizes Homer’s potential and with his Utilitarianism ethics in which he believed that, “You have to be of use,” began to teach Homer how to be an unlicensed doctor (Hallestrom, 1999). Being trained specifically in the field of gynecology, Dr. Larch performed illegal abortions for women and believed in a woman’s right to happiness and the ability to choose. Homer is an anti-abortionist who believes in the right to life. He is torn between his moral beliefs and assisting his mentor, Dr. Larch, with performing illegal abortions. Throughout the entirety of the movie, he is challenged by witnessing women wanting to terminate their pregnancies. The question that remains is whether Homer’s values will stay true based on his views, or differ with each situation. The first scenario of abortion was presented in the beginning of the movie. Homer found a twelve year old young girl exhibiting dangerous symptoms. She was quickly rushed to surgery, where Dr. Larch voiced to Homer, “If she’d come to you four months ago and asked you for a simple D and C, what would you have decided to do? Nothing? This is what doing nothing gets you, Homer. It means that someone else is going to do the job—some moron who doesn’t know how!” (Hallestrom, 1999). The...
Cited: Mackinnon, Barbara. Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues. Belmont: Wadsworth CENGAGE Learning, 2009.
Cider House Rules. Dir. Lasse Hallestrom. With Tobey Maguire and Michael Caine. Film Colony, 1999.
"Statistics on Teen Pregnancy". Pregnancy-Info.net. 28 April 2010 <http://www.pregnancy-info.net/teen_pregnancy_statistics.html >.
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