The Ellen Page comedy has reignited the topic of teenage pregnancy

By Nicole Sperling
Updated January 18, 2008 at 05:00 AM EST
  • Movie

To those on the right, it’s a movie about the sanctity of human life. To those on the left, it’s a movie about the reality of teenage pregnancy. And to those vocal Internet bloggers, Juno is everything from ”the movie pro-aborts will hate” to a message film that’s ”all about choice.” However you interpret it, Juno has hit a nerve — and it’s helped renew the cultural debate about teenage pregnancy. ”Juno seems to be a mirror,” says director Jason Reitman, ”and people [on both sides] see themselves in it.” Still, he’s quick to point out that politics ”was never the purpose.”

Maybe not, but it’s still been embraced by both sides of the abortion-rights debate. ”The teen birthrate is going up in this country,” notes Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards. ”It’s a good time to have an honest movie about teenage pregnancy that doesn’t shy away from issues like morning sickness and not being able to go to your senior prom.”

The National Right to Life Committee, on the other hand, praises ”clever” moments like the scene in which Juno decides against an abortion after a protester outside the clinic reminds her that ”your baby has fingernails.” According to president Wanda Franz, ”So many mainstream movies have made the fact that you might get pregnant an afterthought. Any time you emphasize that there are consequences, you have a pro-life message.”

Juno is just the latest recent movie in which leading characters carry unplanned pregnancies to term. Waitress, Knocked Up, and Bella all made money last year (in each film, the lead decides to keep her baby), and Juno has earned $72 million, becoming the highest-grossing domestic release for indie shingle Fox Searchlight. So what gives? Is Hollywood becoming more pro-life — or is keeping the kid just a lot more acceptable (and marketable)? Reitman thinks it’s a moot point. ”Judd Apatow’s wife got pregnant, she had a baby, and he was influenced enough to make a movie. [Juno screenwriter] Diablo Cody’s teenage friend got pregnant, had a baby, and we made a movie. We write what we know,” he says. ”Juno has as much to do with abortion as Indiana Jones has to do with lassos.”


  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 91 minutes
  • Jason Reitman