When the infamously "fair and balanced" Fox News produces a documentary about abortion, you have to roll your eyes a bit and maybe even shudder at the prospect. But Saturday's "Facing Reality, Choice" almost lived up to the channel's motto. Almost.
The documentary followed three pregnant women in their decision to have an abortion, place the baby for adoption or keep the baby. Kayla, a Southern Baptist in her early 20s who wore a chastity ring in high school, decides to have an abortion after her boyfriend is less than supportive and notes that being a single mom is not exactly accepted in her church. Jeanne is a troubled 29-year-old woman who is pregnant for the seventh time by the end of the documentary and plans on giving the baby up for adoption to the same couple who adopted one of her previously born drug-addicted children, although she seems to be waffling and might keep the baby with her drug dealer boyfriend. Brooke is a 26-year-old married mom who, after several years of trying to get pregnant again, decides to carry to term a baby who will likely die within minutes of being born due to a fatal genetic syndrome.
To Fox's credit, the documentary is decidedly apolitical, focusing solely on the three women, their friends and family and their doctors. The women tell their own stories and each woman says she has no regrets about any of her decisions. Fox is even fair to Dr. William Harrison, Kayla's doctor, who says that he is "not in the business of murdering children" but rather "saving the lives of my patients." Dr. Harrison, a brave and unapologetic man who might have reason not to be so forthcoming after Fox notes in a caption that he performs about 1,000 abortions a year, breaks the news that "no one gets pregnant so they can have abortions."
Yet, with the selection of these three women as the subjects, Fox frames the story. All three women were white, in their 20s, southern and claimed to be religious. Not that southern Christians don't have abortions, but this is hardly the face of abortion or unwanted pregnancies in this country. Where was the married woman in her 40s with three kids already and suddenly facing an unplanned pregnancy? Where was the single 30-year-old professional woman with a supportive boyfriend but who simply isn't ready to have children yet? Where was the rape victim? Where was the woman who didn't "agonize" over her decision to have an abortion?
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While the politicians and crusaders are kept out of the picture, the anti-choice bias lurks under the surface. Kayla's a partier who's having her second abortion, and Jeanne's an unbalanced drug addict whose plight makes one cry out for better access to birth control. But Brooke is the only stable woman of the three, and her decision is to have and keep the baby, even though it will die. Faced with a tragic situation, she and her husband leave it in "God's hands" and are made out to be saints. The documentary doesn't excoriate Kayla for her abortion or Jeanne for her lifestyle – it leaves that to the viewers, who will see a young woman crying as she gets her second abortion and a drug addict pondering whether she and her drug dealing boyfriend should keep the baby or give it up for adoption. One story the documentary doesn't show: a stable, sane woman exercising her constitutional and bodily right to make her own decisions. There've gotta be a few of those out there, right?