Ellen Barkin, noted actress and wife of Revlon chairman Ron Perelman, is featured in a recent USA Today interview (4/13/05 issue). She describes in chilling detail why she came out of self-imposed retirement to star in Todd Solondz’s new movie Palindromes. Quite simply, she says, the “movie subject matter hit home.”
The movie tells the story of a lonely 13-year-old girl who longs to have a child and finally succeeds in getting pregnant. Barkin’s character, the girl’s mother, forces her to have an abortion. Barkin states, “I’ve had an abortion, and I did not feel this was my one chance to have a baby. I didn’t blink. Not only is it your right that goes without saying but there is a sense of relief.”
Barkin calls herself “hysterically pro-choice.” She adds that if her own daughter, Romy, becomes pregnant at 13, “That girl gets taken by the hand before she blinks, gets taken to the doctor and has an abortion. There’s no conversation. There’s no ‘I’m having my baby.'”
I pray for Romy, her daughter. I pray that she will never face the life-changing devastation of a teenage pregnancy and that her mother’s callous and flippant attitude toward terminating a human life won’t penetrate her heart. I pray for all the other teenagers in this world who may be forced to bear the consequences for their mothers’ radically insistent ideologies, as well as for all the lost children who were victims of their own mother’s selfish “choice.”
It seems many women of today who are “hysterically pro-choice” don’t feel their own living children have that same choice – one that may be totally different from their own. Finally, I pray that God will change Ellen Barkin’s heart and cause her to “blink”- to open her eyes to the horrifying realities of what abortion has done to so many women around the world and how this “choice” affects families, husbands and surviving children.
I also thank God for the fact that even though 40 million babies have been aborted over the last three decades, the total number of abortions is declining.
According to a study by Janice Shaw Crouse of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, this decline is especially dramatic among teenagers. Crouse reports, “People tend to think of abortion as a phenomenon largely related to teenage pregnancy. In fact, young women age 19 and under make up the smallest percentage of abortions (19 percent of the total number). Women over age 20 get 80 percent of all abortions with nearly half (48 percent) going to women age 25 and older.”
Crouse’s study reveals other interesting facts. The number of women who choose abortion for the first time has decreased very steadily. However, the number of repeat abortions has been increasing. Another startling trend is the abortion rate of women who have previously had a live birth. This number increased from 42 percent of the total abortions performed in 1980 to 60 percent of those performed by 2000. Women aborting their first pregnancy now account for only 40 percent of all abortions.
These statistics point to the fact that women aged 25 and older, many of whom already have children, are the ones getting abortions. The younger women of this generation -often portrayed as immature and unable to handle the trauma of unexpected pregnancy – are exploring and choosing alternatives to abortion.
These views contrast sharply to their mothers’ mindset. As younger women are turning away, the radical feminist worldview of women such as Ellen Barkin, who considers unborn children dispensable and believes that personal desires supercede morality, is becoming increasingly more militant. In one blatant campaign, titled “I’m Not Sorry,” women publicly “own up” to having an abortion and declare they have “no regrets.” Planned Parenthood offers a T-shirt designed with the message: “I Had An Abortion.” Recent pro-abortion marches are becoming increasingly hostile and graphic.
These public campaigns for abortion are very personal to me and I weep.
I wept at reading Ellen Barkin’s words and I wept when I read Amy Richards’ article. Amy served on the Council of Advocates for Planned Parenthood of New York City; she helped design the “I Had An Abortion” T-shirts and the “I’m Not Sorry” campaign. In an article published in The New York Times last July, Amy told about her pregnancy, expecting triplets. She and her boyfriend Peter decided to abort two of them through “selective reduction” a procedure where a shot of potassium chloride injected into the heart of the unborn baby “ceases its viability.” Her boyfriend commented as he gazed into the sonogram screen, “Oh my gosh, there are three heartbeats. I cannot believe we’re about to make two disappear.” It seems Amy didn’t “blink,” but her boyfriend Peter certainly did.
Days after the procedure, Amy wrote that she had this “recurring feeling that this was going to come back and haunt me would I have a stillbirth or miscarry late in my pregnancy?” She and her boyfriend had a healthy boy; Amy described how she would “do the same thing if I had triplets again, but if I had twins, I would probably have twins. Then again, I don’t know.”
I used to be a woman like Ellen Barkin and Amy Richards.
Radically feminist and “hysterically” pro-choice, I had an abortion while I was in college. A mere cluster of cells, poor timing in my life, an inconvenient “thing” to deal with I had an abortion and I wasn’t sorry. I didn’t “blink” either.
That was until I gave birth and looked into the eyes of my newborn – the first of four beautiful children – and saw the very face of God.
As I gave my remorse and shame to God and came to know His Son Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, my heart and life were transformed. I began to see my actions in a totally new light. The years of alcohol abuse and destructive life choices, which preceded and became even worse after my abortion, manifested a tremendous hole in my heart that could only be filled with Christ’s forgiveness and redemption. I began to see how so many women of my generation had fallen victim to the worldview of radical feminism and made a “choice” that would permeate every aspect of their future.
It grieves my heart to hear women claim they have “no regrets” for taking the life of something so very precious. I believe it is truly impossible for a woman to feel that way. The numbers of women who struggle daily with the effects of post-abortion trauma are astronomical – alone, paralyzed by their guilt and shame.
I am encouraged as more women are speaking out about the devastating effects abortion has had on their lives and are ministering to women who continue to suffer in silence. Many men suffer also with this same trauma, with feelings of remorse and helplessness.
I am also concerned about the surviving children.
My own children were the main reason I did not allow God to use my past sin of abortion to minister to other women. I feared facing my own children.
I worried about the questions they would have. What if Mom had chosen to abort me? What would my brother or sister have been like?
I wondered how Ellen Barkin’s words affected her daughter. How will Romy react to her mother’s “didn’t even blink” attitude? What if she found herself pregnant? What about Amy Richards’ son? How will he handle the fact that his two siblings were “selectively reduced”? What hole will remain in his heart as he ponders the questions raised by his parents’ “choice”?
I know as God has healed my life and heart, He will provide the words and timing for that conversation with each of my own children. It will be an opportunity to teach them that every child is a valuable and precious gift from God, that every decision made without seeking God’s guidance can have horrific consequences, that there is never a sin so great that He can’t forgive through the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ, and that God can use our sin to minister to others for Christ.
I am thankful that the chilling words of Ellen Barkin lead me to “blink” and see that God can handle every fear and every obstacle that stands in the way of reaching out to others in the name of Jesus Christ.
I pray He shows Ellen how to “blink” as well.
Liza Bryan is a contributing writer for the Beverly LaHaye Institute.