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Rhymes With What? Five Films in Which Women Actually Go Through With Abortions

Rhymes With What? Five Films in Which Women Actually Go Through With Abortions (photo)

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As many an entertainment writer casting his or her weary eye over the past 12 months’ releases in search of a trend piece pointed out, 2007 was a great year for the unintended pregnancy (that generally lead to unexpected happiness). The parade of scrappy swollen-bellied successes included “Knocked Up,” “Waitress,” “Bella” and “Juno” — the last of which cleared the $70 million mark at the box office this past weekend, and has been racking up award nominations left and right. “Juno” has also, thanks to its lucky (or not) confluence with the Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy scandal, been the subject of columns and editorials using it as a launching point for talk of the effectiveness of abstinence in sex ed, of whether these films have been whitewashing pregnancy and motherhood, of the best time to talk to your children about contraception, of whether these are indications that we’re in a new age of conservatism… While the furor continues, here’s a look at a five selections from that less-discussed genre of films — ones in which women actually go through with, as “Knocked Up” put it, a “rhymes with ‘shmashmortion'” — and how they’re come off on screen.

Cabaret (1972)

Liza Minnelli’s bohemian nightclub entertainer Sally Bowles romances the mostly gay Brian (Michael York) and the ambiguous baron Maximilian von Heune (Helmut Griem) in Weimar-era Berlin. When she discovers she’s pregnant, she’s unsure which of the two is the father. Though Brian is willing to marry her and take her back to England with him, she decides to go through with an abortion and stay in Berlin (“How soon would it be before we started hating each other?”).

Portrayal: Tragic. While Sally’s point is fair — outside of the bubble of Berlin, their relationship likely wouldn’t last — her act comes across as the selfish one in the face of what amounts to Brian’s sacrifice, and her choice to stay in Germany as WWII approaches essentially means she’ll be punished for it.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

Impatient with her boyfriend Mark’s (Brian Backer) reluctance to make a move, freshman Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) ends up spontaneously sleeping with his more aggressive friend Mike (Robert Romanus), and, yes, getting pregnant. Mike fails to either come up with cash to help her pay for the abortion (he buys REO Speedwagon tickets instead) or show up to drive her to the clinic, leaving her to call on her older brother Brad (Judge Reinhold), who turns out to be gently supportive.

Portrayal: Astonishingly matter-of-fact, particularly for a mainstream film. Stacy doesn’t die, drop out of school or embark on a downward spiral — instead, she goes on with her life without dire consequences, and comes to respect Mark’s decision to take it slow. Even the excised scene on the operating table (which usually makes it in to cable airings of the film) neither soft-peddles nor demonizes the procedure.

Wild at Heart (1990)

Knocked up by her unstable cousin Dell (Crispin Glover) at age 16, Lula (Laura Dern) is forcefully taken to have the world’s scariest abortion by her mother Marietta (Diane Ladd), who wants her to be appreciative of their having gone to see “the best damn abortionist in the South,” though Lula mostly remembers his hairy nostrils.

Portrayal: Lynchian. There’s screaming, bloody instruments and a fetus in a trashcan, though it’s all just a fittingly terrifying counterpart to the nightmare of actual parenthood portrayed in “Eraserhead.”

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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