100 Years Ago, Hollywood Made an Anti-Abortion Movie

There haven't been many since Where Are My Children

(photo: Wikimedia Commons)

I keep reading that Hollywood wanted nothing to do with the new movie Gosnell because abortion is such a divisive topic. That, of course, is complete manure. They want nothing to do with pro-life movies because they hate pro-lifers.

If they truly just wanted to stay away from a controversial topic, why make movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dirty Dancing, Cider House Rules as well as countless television shows including Maude, Dawson's Creek, Party of Five, and most recently Scandal, all of which featured abortions?

Interestingly, a little over 100 years ago, Hollywood created a movie starring Tyrone Power Sr. in which he played Richard Walton, a district attorney, who was very pro-eugenics. In the silent film, he is trying a case against Dr. Homer, who has been arrested for distributing 'indecent' birth control literature that includes lines shown on screen saying, “When only those children who are wanted are born the race will conquer the evils that weigh it down.” (Sound familiar?)

On the stand, Dr. Homer makes a case for legalizing contraception as he recounts stories which feature abused children, alcoholic parents, unemployed and impoverished parents, and a despondent single mother who commits suicide.

Throughout the film we see Richard is sad about not having children. But he doesn't want to make his wife Edith feel bad about it so he keeps his sadness private. Meanwhile, Richard's wife, Edith, has been keeping a secret from him. She has had abortions so she can continue with her busy social life.

In a back story that will emerge as important, Edith's younger brother gets the maid's daughter pregnant. She has an abortion but complications ensue and she dies. Henry Malfit, the abortionist, is brought up on charges by none other than Richard. Following Malfit's arrest and trial in which he is sentenced to 15 years of hard labor, Malfit rushes angrily at Richard and says, "before sitting in judgement of others, you should see to your own household!"

Stunned, Richard takes a gander at the doctor's ledgers and sees his wife's name listed at least twice under the term "professional services." He returns home, despondent, to find his wife and about a dozen friends partying at his home. He tells many of his wife's friends whose names he had seen in the ledger, 'I should bring you to trial for manslaughter!" He then confronts his wife Edith with the cry, "where are my children?" She is overcome with remorse and faints.

The movie next shows her praying to have children but she is unable to because of the abortions and as the years pass, the couple sits sadly by a fire while Richard imagines his children, only to see them disappear before him. It's actually a pretty devastating ending.

The film was banned in some states and edited down in others. But even then, it was a popular movie.

In 1993, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

I plan on going to see Gosnell either tonight or tomorrow. I hope you do too.

Here is Where Are My Children in its entirety:

The Alabama State House, located in Montgomery, Alabama.

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