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The Choice (1981) - Overview, Synopsis, Critique

abortion kay lisa kay’s

Principal social theme: abortion

Greene Productions. No MPAA rating. Featuring: Susan Clark, Mitchell Ryan, Largo Woodruff, Paul Regina, Jennifer Warren, Kathleen Lloyd, Lisa Jane Persky, John Chappell, Joanne Naile, Justin Lord, Cheryl Smith. Written by Dennis Nemec. Cinematography by Stevan Larner. Edited by Parkie Singh. Music by Johann Sebastian Bach and Leopold Stokowski. Produced by Joseph M. Taritero and David Greene. Directed by David Greene. Color. 97 minutes.

Overview

The Choice is a motion picture that focuses on a wide range of viewpoints about abortion and the difficulty of the decision, as both a mother and daughter confront the issue with their own unexpected pregnancies. Susan Clark and Largo Woodruff are excellent in this telefilm, which premiered on CBS on February 10, 1981.

Synopsis

Twenty-year-old Lisa Clements (Largo Woodruff) discovers she is pregnant. She keeps her discovery secret from Michael (Paul Regina), her live-in boyfriend who has just graduated from college. He is offered a job at a new company in Idaho, and he asks Lisa to accompany him. She asks Michael to drive her to her parent’s home in southern California for the weekend. When they are alone, Lisa tells Kay (Susan Clark), her mother, about her problem. Kay reveals that she also had an unwanted pregnancy the previous year. She tells Lisa about the ordeal of coming to a decision about whether to have an abortion. At first, she wanted to confide in her husband, Jerry (Mitchell Ryan), but he was depressed and angry about losing a promotion at work. Kay seeks advice from an abortion counseling service, but is upset when she learns that the group has a hidden agenda, to frighten women about abortion. She visits an abortion clinic, but seems repelled by their casual attitude about the process. Kay tries to visit Lisa at college, but returns home after learning her daughter had plans for the weekend. She catches Jerry planning a weekend getaway with his secretary. She decides to have an abortion, but only under general anesthesia. She is referred to a hospital and is placed in a ward with three other women, who all have rather different reactions to their intended abortions. Kay undergoes the abortion with ease, but she decides to stay at the bedside of one of the other women who is undergoing a late-term abortion through induced labor. After her ordeal is over, Kay returns home to find her husband believing she had been out overnight with another man. Jerry admits his error with his unsuccessful weekend fling, but demands to know the details of Kay’s affair. He is stunned to learn she had an abortion and realizes he had pushed Kay away when she tried to tell him that she had a problem. They reconcile and Kay’s flashback ends. She tells her daughter only one essential piece of advice, to make her decision quickly. The film ends as Lisa decides to tell Michael and involve him in making her choice.

Critique

One of the major strengths of The Choice is its honest exploration of the variety of opinions, problems, and attitudes surrounding the issue of abortion by the woman involved, her loved ones, and those whose advice she seeks. The four women in Kay’s ward form a small microcosm. Kay is the oldest, having her abortion in secret. The second woman is also married, accompanied by her concerned husband. This is the woman who wants to have a child but learns her baby has Down’s Syndrome and would probably not live if carried to full term. The third woman is in her early twenties and is casual about the procedure but disappointed that her boyfriend offers her only token support. The fourth woman, in her late teens, is delighted with her abortion. She had relations with six different men just before her pregnancy, and each one paid her the full cost of the operation. She plans to take her windfall and spend it on a vacation in Hawaii. So the reasons for these abortions are due to necessity, to convenience, to fear, and for profit. Kay does not believe her marriage would survive if she has the child. At thirty-eight, she believes she does not have the strength or desire to rear another child. She has also just taken a job as a home decorator, an experience that she finds completely fulfilling. She also has many doubts, including moral concerns about taking a life and whether her fetus would feel any pain. She talks with a great many people about her reservations and encounters a wide range of reactions, from her personal doctor who disapproves of abortion to a teen who says her parents prefer abortion to the concept of birth control. Kay’s situation is largely determined by the crisis in Jerry’s life. It is only in the end, after he learns of Kay’s pregnancy, that her husband realizes the misery he caused by not being supportive when his wife most needed him. Finally, Kay’s ordeal makes it possible for her daughter to make her decision with the support of those around her.

The City (ABC, 5/17/1971, 120 mins) [next] [back] The Chisholms

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