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Cider House Rules Movie and Abortion Essay

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Updated: Dec 28th, 2021

Apart from two instances of adoption, Homer Well spent his entire life in an orphanage under the care of Dr. Wilbur Larch. In his first adoption, Homer showed dumbness to his adoptive parents who within a short period of time after adoption knocked back at Cider’s house bringing Homer back. They claimed that he never made a single sound, not even a cry. However, no sooner had the infant rested on Larch’s hand than he let out a happy squeal which startled the parents. Homer was therefore back in Cider House and happy for the first time. In his second adoption, Homer was on his second birthday when he left with a couple who experienced the same problem but invented a strategy of getting sound out of the boy. They beat him and the rumor reached Larch who on arrival to the couple’s home found crying and bruised Homer on the bed. For the second time, Homer returned to the orphanage home. Larch developed an interest in the small boy when he noticed that there was something in the boy that was special. He took full responsibility and his time to teach Homer all medical skills which would make him capable of handling cases regardless of not being certified (The Cider House rules, p. 11).

Dr. Wilbur Larch, who owned the orphanage home considered according to Noonan (p. 117) as a “gray, dark and forbidding place-the dumping grounds of unwanted children”, may be considered the first illegal abortionist involved in caring for the uncared children in the world’s history. In his undertaking of taking care of non-aborted but unwanted children, Larch drifted off to a drug addiction cocoon which besides being a secret abortionist, Larch was addicted to ether. Nonetheless, his commitment to the children is touching and he had an internal joy of having Homer under his care as his surrogate son and his apprentice. Through his passionate care of the children, Larch is brought out as a good man though as the film reveals itself, he emerges as a manipulative and rule-bending man. According to Baird, & Rosenbaum (p. 311), “ his appearance oozes out as a drug addict, lies to the children, deceives his Board of Directors, falsifies medical records, breaks state and federal laws to achieve personal goals, and encourages the practice of medicine without a license.” (Baird & Rosenbaum, p. 273).

At the hands of Larch, Homer emerged out as a trained gynecologist and as an apprentice in abortion regardless of his lack of high school knowledge. As he grew up, he came to love Dr. Larch though he refused to take part in his practice of abortion. Despite Dr. Larch’s conviction on the importance of practicing this exercise, Homer holds his position against the idea supporting his stand with solid reasons whereby he tells his doctor that despite that he will not perform the abortion; he has no problem with him doing it. Larch tries to emphasize that he is helping the women who could get help from nowhere else but from them but Homer claims that abortion is illegal. He further tells Larch that it was him who taught him the practice though he never inquired about it. Therefore, he does not have to perform the abortion practice (Noonan, p. 72).

According to the nation’s law, under every circumstance, abortion was illegal. Both the physician performing the act and the woman undergoing the abortion was justified for punishment for this action. As a result, Homer was not ready to perform an illegal operation no matter how much his doctor was convincing him to. More importantly, according to his claim, he was just like another orphan in the home and Larch could have chosen anyone else to teach or teach him other skills and not abortion: he never asked for it. Nonetheless, Larch answers this by claiming that he taught him what he knew and there was nothing more to teach and advised him that he has to be of use in every life he got.

Further reasons against performing the practice were that everyone had to be responsible for his or her actions. Before one engaged in any practice such as sex, she had to be ready for its consequences. Pregnancy being one of them, every woman had to bear the burden of the sex aftermath and ensure that the life she has created is taken care of. This is true because though the law may state that, according to Noonan (p. 273), “pregnancy is a wanted and happy event for women, their partners and their families”, it does not mean that thousands of the pregnancies that happen unintentionally have to be terminated As a result, the reasons for abortion are always unsatisfactory. Some of these reasons include; the pregnant women may feel they are not ready for potential change the pregnancy brings to their bodies; they may want to continue being sexually active- which might be hindered by the pregnancy and hate for children among others (Noonan, p. 286).

Homer further states that he could not be there if her mother decided to undergo an abortion therefore, the unborn have their right to live. One may not know how important the infant may be to both the parent’s life and the child itself. Were he aborted; women who were benefiting from his assistance at the clinic during delivery might not have had his assistance and expertise hence, undergoing unnecessary complications. Giving a child an advantage to live either through mother rearing, rearing in an orphanage or in adoption is a child’s right, and termination of the pregnancy is a violation of this right. According to Homer’s argument, if the couples are not ready for a child, they should use preventive measures such as birth control to avoid women getting pregnant. If the couple fails to use birth control and the woman gets pregnant, then the responsibility should be accepted.

However, Homer goes against this counsel when Candy and her boyfriend Wally Worthington appear at the St. Cloud for an abortion with a claim that they failed to use birth control whereby he decides to leave with them in order to discover the world. During his stay with the couple, Wally leaves for World War II and during his home away; Candy and Home have an affair without the consideration of using birth control. It is at this moment that Homer realizes that life is not based on rules and it is for everyone to ensure that his own rules apply in his life, as life goes by. When Wally comes back after being paralyzed in the war, Candy leaves Homer to take care of him. Despite his stand that sex without readiness for a child should be preventive oriented, Homer fails to adhere to this (McConnell, p. 264).

It is entirely fair to say that people should be in control of their sexual impulses. This should come from the realization that, according to Gennaro (p. 381), “if you voluntarily act in a way that brings about the existence of a person or a foetus, then you have a responsibility to maintain the life of that person or foetus.” In the movies, there is the Christian perspective concerning sin which includes abortion. Besides God is coming to punish the wrongdoers, who are the lawbreakers, He is known to have given humans the capability of resisting sin. This can be termed as given self-control thus having control over one’s sexual impulses will for one reason will determine whether one will get pregnant or not thus the need for abortion. Every woman is freely provided with a conditional right in choosing whether to become pregnant or not. She has to make this choice before she gets engaged in sex which means that she can decide to have sex and become pregnant or not have sex and avoid pregnancy. This also has to do with the timing of sexual instances; she and man can control their impulses during the days of menstruation to avoid getting pregnant. Otherwise, use preventive measures because the “right of choice” recognizes that ‘choice’ after pregnancy has no place and is an immoral act.

While still living on the Worthington estate, Homer joins Arthur Rose and his team who are migrants employed in Worthington’s orchard to pick apples. During this time, Rose impregnated his own daughter, Badu and Homer realized that despite his disagreement on abortion undertaking, he has to do this one himself. During his time as an apple picker, Homer learned how to break meaningless Cider House rules. According to Gennaro (p. 193), “Dr. Larch picked babies (clever similitude), and breaks state laws by forging post-graduate degrees and Medical records in Homer’s name so Homer can return as a ‘doctor’.” During their apple picking time, a strong bond of relationship had been introduced between Candy and Homer with Mr. Rose. However, upon raping her own daughter and making her pregnant, a reason was introduced for Homer to follow the path of his mentor as he becomes an abortionist for the first time. This is because according to their culture, incest was a taboo associated with trouble, thus his action was “life-safe” based. This also brought the death of Mr. Rose who was stabbed by his daughter on his second attempt to rape her. At this point, Homer comes to realize the sense of his surrogate father in his actions as a humanitarian abortionist. Despite his initial status as a pro-life, he becomes exactly as his mentor Larch (Gennaro, p. 349).

The best part of this movie revolves around rules. Rules that are made by individuals, who are not ready to follow the same rules they make. As a result, a contradiction based on these rules emerges up as a vital issue in the movie. There are a number of questions based on the rules which appear to be of great importance. These questions according to Baird & Rosenbaum (p. 474) include; “Do we really have to obey laws that we disagree with? Do we really have to follow rules that were made by someone who does not have to follow the same rules themselves? Shouldn’t we just let people make their own rules for their own lives? And does a person who makes rules have the moral authority to do so?

The Cider house rules can be considered as a representation of the ten God commandments which leaves a question whether there is a need of considering them if is it necessary to make one’s rules. This is a question brought about by uncertainty of God’s authority over people, his authority in rulemaking, and the question of following his rules though he does not live our lives. In the movie, there are cases of rules confrontation which include doctors performing illegal abortions as well as faking medical records with an aim of keeping someone out of war; adopting parents choosing a child at the expense of another, apple pickers who ensure that their current picking does not affect the following one and women coming to the orphanage to have an abortion. This is a significant image of “Cider House Rules” in showing that according to Noonan (p. 82), “a person does not really ‘grow up’ or ‘mature’ until he/she understands that sometimes it is necessary to break a rule ‘to make things straight’.”

It, therefore, appears that “Cider house rules” were made by individuals who live outside the place. This gives a rise to the question, isn’t it fairer to allow people living in the Cider house to come up with the rules which will govern them? Accordingly, focusing on abortion is a question that should be advocated. Is it fair- as it is- for males to make rules which are related to “woman’s issue”? Isn’t it fairer for women to be left to determine what is right in terminating their pregnancy since it is their own body they are dealing with? As Homer portrays it, situations should be the key aspects that dictate right or lack of right in pregnancy termination. This means that whenever establishing the rules concerning abortion, it is the factors under which the practice is based upon that should dictate the rights of establishing the rules. It comes out as an “awakening” or “liberation” when Homer decides to do away with rules and act in the situation. To sum this up, rules should be flexible and enforced with consideration of the characteristic of the situation (Noonan, p. 512).

Works cited

  1. Baird, Robert & Rosenbaum Stuart. The Ethics of abortion: pro-life vs pro-choice. New York: Prometheus Books. 1993.
  2. Gennaro, Rocco. A dialogue of ethical issues of life and death. Lanham: University Press of America. 2002.
  3. McConnell, Terrace. Moral issue in health care: An introduction to medical ethics. Belmont: Wadsworth Pub. Co. 1997.Print
  4. Noonan, John. The Morality of abortion: legal and historical perspectives. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1970. Print
  5. The Cider House rules. Dir Lasse Hallstrom. Perf Maguire Tobey, Theron Charlize, Delroy Lindo, 1999 film
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