This past week we were talking about the problematic death of the unborn. Recently, I watched a movie that explored how someone would deal with learning that she was born through a failed abortion. The movie is called October Baby. So yes this is the perfect time to talk about this. In the movie, the main character Hannah has just started college and is suffering from a number of conditions including epilepsy, asthma, and depression. After a traumatic collapse during a performance Hannah meets with her parents and a doctor. This is where Hannah learns she is not only adopted but that her biological mother tried to abort her. Hannah decides that she needs to find her birth mother in order to move on with her life. After a tumultuous encounter with her biological mother Hannah tries to get a better understanding of why her adopted parents went about adopting her. She finds out that her mother lost twins at 24 weeks. After this they had seen an adoption request at the pregnancy crisis center where they ended up getting Hannah.
This movie brought up the very interesting dimensions of problematic death of the unborn. Hannah from the perspective of the unborn that almost didn’t exist allows the viewer to explore how an unborn might feel. Hannah’s biological mother allows the viewer to see the perspective of the mother who chooses to end the life of her baby. Finally, the movie explores the loss a mother feels after the loss of an unborn child and how she can cope and move on. This movie, although offering a very religious dimension, offers a very interesting perspective of our recent class topics.
In 1994 Oregon became the first state to allow physician assisted suicide. Through a measure called the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, terminally ill patients were allowed to end their life though medications prescribed by physicians. This documentary explores the background to the law and then it follows the story of several patients that are going through the Death with Dignity process. The documentary is a really charged telling of the lives of these terminally ill patients and their loved ones. The patients range from the elderly to middle age persons suffering from a terminal illness. This is interesting story because it is very different from the documentary The Suicide Plan we watched in class. This documentary intimately shows the emotional side of physician-assisted suicide. The main difference is the people in the documentary focus more on the control physician assisted suicide gives the person over their death, and in turn life, rather than the relief of pain and suffering.
Although the film is clearly sympathetic to the agenda of physician-assisted suicide, it does do a good job of showing the vast amount of good that this program can do through the lens of several different patients experiences. I recommend this to anyone who has an interest in physician-assisted suicide and end of life care.
In this inspirational Ted Talk, Amanda Bennett, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, explains her journey with the death of her husband and what she learned through it. Ms. Bennett explains first her life with her husband and then his death. Her husband and her lived a life full of travel and adventure traveling all over the world as they both worked and wrote abroad. She then speaks about how he became ill with cancer. Much like how they lived their lives, both confronted death with an attitude of conquering this new adventure. Unfortunately, this attitude of unrelenting hope and conquering led to the denial of the actual act of dying. Finally, after three rounds of remission, when her husband died Ms. Bannett was not prepared for it and this quick death in a hospital bed did not seem to match the heroic narrative of their lives.
Ms. Bennett then calls for a more heroic narrative for death—a death that allows a person’s life to be manifested in his or her death. Although having a death that is reflective of one’s life is not a new concept, referring to the concept of a “good death” as seen throughout history, it seems we have lost that in modern Western culture. This video is a moving and powerful story of how the living need a narrative for death to match the narrative of their loved ones’ lives. If you have 20 minutes free this would be a great watch.