October Baby tells the story of a young woman who learns that she had survived an abortion attempt and goes on a search for her birth mother. According to a New York Times review, the film “communicates in the language of guilt and fear” and one of the scenes depicts “a gory portrait of fetal mutilation and maternal distress” “clearly intended to terrify young women“. I wonder how the New York Times and its “pro-choice” readers feel about the novel First Born, which inspired the movie Edward Scissorhands. First Born deals with a failed abortion as well, although it is “abortion-friendly”.
Actor Johnny Depp played the hideous and gentle Edward Scissorhands. In the movie, his creator dies before he has time to give him hands so he has scissors instead. Edward is trying to fit in but things turn bad and after his love interest fakes his death, he has to live in seclusion in his creator’s mansion. He can neither age nor die.
First Born author and Edward Scissorhands’s screenwriter Caroline Thompson revealed in an interview with vice.com: “Edward Scissorhands is the sort of benign version of First Born. I don’t know if my mother actually had Tourette’s, but whatever came into her mind flew out of her mouth. She was a big, planned parenthood person, she was very much a pro-choice person. On my 21st birthday, she said, “I’m really glad that abortion wasn’t legal in 1956 because if it were you wouldn’t be here.”
“Right! Happy birthday! So I always loved those late-19th century horror novels that were in the form of diary, and I wrote this diary from the point of view from a woman who had an abortion then had the abortion return. It turned out to be a live birth and many years later it finds its way home to her. She keeps it a secret and falls madly in love with it and ends up having this secret life with her abortion.”
“It must be damaging to be sucked out of somebody, so he ended up a little homunculus, with a tail. It’s not an anti-abortion story, it was meant to be a black comedy really.”
How sad the words that were spoken to a daughter. Understandable was her response through her writing: “Had I been aborted, I would have found my way back to you, Mother”, just like the abortion survivor in October Baby.
First Born is a “pro-choice” novel but it points to the truth: that abortion, though legal, is an abomination and much healing is needed, even on that side of the issue.