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BY Tim Drake
Given the national election results, fears of FOCA
(the Freedom of Choice Act) and 36 years of legalized abortion in our country,
it’s easy to despair.
numbers alone — an estimated 40 million children aborted since Roe v. Wade
imposed abortion on the nation — are enough to drain the joie de vivre
as Christ tells us, there remains faith, hope and
love. Pope Benedict XVI came to our country last April to remind us of that
second word — hope. The theme of his apostolic journey was “Christ Is Our
one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift
of a new life,” wrote Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Spe Salvi
(Saved by Hope).
a more hopeful set of numbers:
— a conservative estimate of the number of pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers
across the United States.
million — those served in those centers each year.
million — those women served in the past two decades.
doesn’t matter who is president,” said Virginia Cline, director of public
relations with Heartbeat International, which is affiliated with more than
1,000 of these centers. “What matters is that we can keep our doors open and
are other signs of hope, as well. Last year, Hollywood produced at least four
motion pictures with a pro-adoption message. I was asked by Ignatius Press to
write the coffee table book Behind Bella: The
Amazing Stories of Bella and the Lives It’s Changed, looking at the impact of just one of those
Bella grossed $1.3
million during its opening weekend, with only 165 screens, earning the
second-highest per-screen average of any film in theaters that weekend. The DVD
has sold more than 500,000 copies.
film changed lives: first, among those who made it, then among many who saw it
— and it continues to do so. As Pope Benedict said, hope brings new life. The
hope offered by Bella brought new life in many unexpected ways.
Tammy Blanchard, who played the lead role of Nina in the film, became pregnant
after making the movie.
never wanted to have children,” Blanchard said. “I felt it was pointless.”
her attitude changed after making Bella, especially due to the
influence of the young actress, Sophie Nyweide, who played the role of Bella.
realized that having a child is about producing more love in the world,”
Blanchard said. “That’s what life is about — love and hope.”
present, the producers are aware of at least 30 “Bella babies” who
were born after their mothers saw the film and decided against abortion. The
DVD and book are being utilized by pro-life organizations and crisis-pregnancy
centers, where they are having a dramatic impact on clients who see in the
story their own life journey.
always been intrigued by the power of motion pictures to impart life-giving
messages. When I think of Bella, I recall other stirring pro-life film moments.
In The Lord of the Rings,
the elf-queen Galadriel encourages Frodo in his quest, saying, “Even the
smallest person can change the course of the future” — a truth made plainly
clear to us every year when we celebrate Christmas.
Or, I think of Stephen Spielberg’s Schindler’s
List and how it reminds us that word games do take lives.
Nazi Amon Goeth confronts his Jewish
housekeeper, Helen, in the cellar. “I realize you’re not a person in the
strictest sense of the word,” he tells her. “Is this the face of a rat? Are
these the eyes of a rat?”
That film’s tagline was: “Whoever
saves one life, saves the world entire.” How tragic that the message of that
celebrated film has been lost to those who advocate the destruction of the
Or, I’m reminded of the Frank Capra
Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life.
“Strange, isn’t it?” asks Clarence
Oddbody, angel second-class, of George Bailey. “Each man’s life touches so many
other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
One of Bella’s
producers, Leo Severino, described the film as an “entertainment ultrasound.”
While the producers hoped that the film might garner Oscar attention, Severino
describes the children who have been spared from abortion as the movie’s
“living Oscars.” Twenty and 30 years from now those “Bella
babies” will be marrying, contributing to the world, and having children of
their own, continuing to show that new life always springs from hope.
So, as we’re tempted to despair
during these cold, winter days, just past the inauguration of a president who
supports the culture of death and the painful anniversary of Roe
v. Wade, we must recall that there is nothing more hopeful than new
Already, deep in the soil beneath
this winter’s snow and the ice, seeds are preparing to sprout. May the Holy
Spirit fill us with joy and hope and breathe new life into the culture that
currently seems so hostile to it.
Tim Drake is the author of
Behind Bella: The Amazing
Stories of Bella and the Lives
It’s Changed (Ignatius.com).