Ten years ago, the movie The Cider House Rules was toasted in Hollywood for its fervent support of the need for abortion doctors. But you wouldn't know that from today's TV listings.
The film is airing Tuesday night on WGN, and the plot summary in the Washington Post TV Week section on Sunday says only this: "Raised to be an obstetrician at a Maine orphanage, a young man leaves to work at a cider mill with a soldier's beloved."
James Bowman's takedown of the film is here. He wrote, in part:
The rules against abortion are (or were, when there were such things) made by men, who do not live in women's bodies. Therefore, women need not obey them. Indeed, it is a question whether they need obey any rules imposed upon them by a patriarchal society.
The only point in the film where any kind of moral judgment is made is when it is revealed that one of the migrant workers, Mr. Arthur Rose (Delroy Lindo), has been committing incest with his own daughter. Paradoxically, both this act and the rule against it must be regarded as artefacts of the patriarchal culture, but the film comes down on the side of opposition to incest anyway. Not to be disregarded, of course, is the fact that it provides an opportunity for the daughter to have a wholly-approved abortion.
The film won an adapted screenplay Oscar in 2000 for author John Irving, who wrote the original novel. He thanked NARAL and Planned Parenthood when he accepted the award.