Hollywood is filled with the sad aftermath of abortion, and it has been for a long time. That was one of the surprising lessons I learned in the book Oasis: Conversion Stories of Hollywood Legends by Mary Claire Kendall.
I had picked up the book in order to discover more about the faith journeys of the cinematic stars of yesteryear. But what I came to realize is that many of these celebrities had been touched by the trauma and tragedy of abortion.
For instance, after screen legend Gary Cooper began an extra-marital affair with the actress Patricia Neal, Neal became pregnant. The book notes that the affair took an emotional toll on Cooper, his family, and Neal, “complicated by Neal’s pregnancy, which, to her later regret, she terminated.”
The actress Mary Astor, who starred in the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis” had an adulterous affair with a Fox executive and became pregnant. She chose to have an abortion and later remarked that the place she went to “committed such crimes under the fiction of ‘therapeutic treatment'” and gave her a “new burden of guilt to carry.” Years of painful substance abuse followed.
After the beautiful actress Lana Turner filed for divorce, she discovered she was pregnant. Her agent reminded her about MGM’s policy against having a baby while unmarried. She reluctantly had an abortion and she later wrote that the abortionist nearly killed her as he took the life of her baby. During a subsequent pregnancy, she was pressured again to have an abortion because of career considerations.
In the end, these post-abortive women found hope and healing–but it was a long, painful path to travel. The sadness associated with these abortions lingered for an extended period of time. No amount of Hollywood acclaim could fill the holes in hearts that had been cracked open by the loss of their aborted children.
Reading the pages of the book, I wondered what the lives of these legendary actresses would have been like if they had only received support for carrying their lost children to term. How much heartache they could have avoided, how their lives could have been enriched, by these precious babies. They could have been the true stars of these actresses’ lives.
Hollywood has been promoting abortion for decades. But the American experience has taught us that abortion is not the solution to the problems that women face–problems such as lack of family support, coercion, and difficult relationships.
Abortion only creates additional problems that cannot be resolved in the length of a Hollywood movie. It can take years–decades even–for a woman to come to grips with the impact of her decision to abort her child. And that is a story few screenwriters are likely to tell.