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To be human is to be beautifully flawed

Posted by Paul Smeaton on 19 October 2012

Yesterday evening The Good Counsel Network hosted the screening of October Baby as part of their ongoing 40 Days for Life campaign. I attended this screening along with 130 others.

The evening was a great success and all the money raised will be used to continue the Good Counsel Network's life saving work. Please make an effort to support their 40 Days for Life campaign in London, which is running all-day, everyday until Sunday 4 November.

October Baby is well worth viewing and promoting. Below is the official trailer and a review of the movie. SPOILER ALERT: Readers should note that this review contains detailed information about the plot and the movie's conclusion.

When we consider the horror of abortion our thoughts naturally turn to the hundreds of thousands of children who are killed around the world everyday. We consider the suffering of mothers and fathers who make the tragic decision to kill their child, often under intense pressure from others. We think of the abortionists themselves and those who assist in abortions. Perhaps less often thought of are the few children who survive abortion procedures and then live the rest of their lives with the consequences of somebody else's choice. This is the story of October Baby.

The movie begins with a young woman named Hannah breaking down as she performs in the opening scene of a university stage production. We soon discover that Hannah has a history of going into 'fits', has had multiple hip surgeries throughout her childhood and is taking numerous forms of medication on a daily basis. Hannah's journal entries indicate that she may be suffering from depression, but there is no obvious reason why she is unwell.

Following the drama of her collapse on stage Hannah learns that, in her words, her "entire life has been a lie". Her parents inform her that she was adopted after her mother attempted to abort her 24 weeks into her pregnancy. The doctor believes that Hannah's subsequent health problems all stem from this traumatic event.

Hannah is naturally distressed by this shocking news and reacts with anger towards her adopted parents. With the help of friends she goes in search of her birth-mother, armed only with the knowledge that she was born in a hospital which is several hours' journey away.

Hannah eventually finds her birth-mother, but not before learning that she was in fact a twin and that her brother died a few months after their violent birth. Hannah's mother has gone on to have a successful legal career and is a happily married wife and mother. After making her way into her mother's office Hannah suffers the heartbreak of being rejected a second time when her mother first welcomes and then pretends not to know her.

Hannah returns home and continues to search for answers and healing. On the advice of her adopted mother she visits a Catholic cathedral where she meets a priest who she explains her suffering to. The priest explains to her the healing power that forgiveness has for those who forgive. This sets the scene for perhaps the most moving moment of the film.

With her adopted father Hannah returns to her mother's office. There she leaves a note that simply reads: 'I forgive you'. When her mother returns she discovers the note and breaks down in tears. As part of the fictional narrative this scene is exceptionally moving. But there is more. At the conclusion of the movie, during the credits, the actress playing Hannah's birth-mother reveals that years prior to filming the movie she had an abortion. The film-makers were unaware of this when they asked her to perform in the movie, but she decided to take on the role as part of her own personal healing process. She explained that the tears she shed on camera were not feigned or acted, but were her own tears for her own child.

October Baby then is not simply a well-made movie conveying a crucial message for our time, but is itself a real part of the essential work of reaching out in compassion to those who have experienced the horrors of abortion.

In one scene, a character tells Hannah that, “To be human, is to be beautifully flawed” and this powerful message has become a sort of unofficial motto of this wonderful, life-affirming movie.

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