This independent film by Jon and Andrew Erwin, in association with Provident Films (Courageous), American Family Films, and Samuel Goldwyn Films, tells the tale of young Hannah Lawson (Rachel Hendrix). After a dangerous collapse onstage during her collegiate theatrical debut, Hannah learns that her lifelong struggle with multiple physical ailments is the result of her difficult birth. The reason? She is the survivor of a botched abortion.
As Hannah learns for the first time that she is adopted, she feels betrayed, because although her adoptive parents are loving, they never told her of the adoption. Additionally, Hannah's discovery compounds the previously unexplained feelings of despair, loneliness, and rejection that have plagued her for some time. In an act of anger and rebellion, she then defies the wish of her father (John Schneider) that she not accompany a group of friends on their spring break trip to New Orleans, and embarks not only on a seemingly fun-filled road trip, but on her own journey of finding answers about her past.
Her lifelong friend Jason (Jason Burkey) suggests she take the opportunity to detour to Mobile, Alabama, where she was born. After a dead end or two, she finds the nurse, Mary (Jasmine Guy), who was present with her birth mother, Cindy (Shari Rigby), during the attempted abortion, and who was partly responsible for Hannah's survival. Mary, too, as a participant in the action, carried lifelong scars from the incident and never returned to nursing. Jasmine Guy’s performance as Mary was almost the best of all — she was outstanding. Mary tells Hannah that her mother is still in Mobile, and Hannah finds her.
Predictably, Mr. Lawson shows up in Mobile to take his daughter home. Hannah’s anger and confusion have caused family strife, and she is frustrated that her Mobile trip didn’t provide the answers she needed. Eventually, though, this troubled young woman finds healing in God, and with the aid of a kindly priest, learns that forgiveness is not only abundantly offered by the Lord, but is an action she must take to recover her life and heal the troubled relationship with her adoptive parents.
Four decades after Roe v. Wade, the world is beginning to acknowledge that abortion is not only not the answer, but is the cause of untold numbers of additional problems. News accounts abound of woes encountered by post-abortive mothers, survivors of "failed" abortions, families of victims, troubled nurses, and post-abortive fathers who were uninformed about decisions to end their children’s lives. October Baby attempts to deal with just a few of those issues, and offers viewers the promise of forgiveness and healing only to be found in a strong relationship with the Creator and in lives of righteousness.
Because of this important message and the wonderful performances by the actors, however, this movie overcomes what could have been a sappy foray into an unbelievable storyline. The production values were excellent, but, with the exception of Hannah, her father, Jason and a surprise performance by Shari Rigby as Hannah's birth mother, the characters could have been more developed, thus providing additional depth to the story. The road trip sequence in which Hannah and her friends head for New Orleans suffered from poor pacing, and their carefree adventures seemed to be added almost as afterthoughts. That said, all of this is rescued by the timeliness of "the moral of the story": forgiveness, healing, faith, and strength. It was announced that 10 percent of the movie’s profits are to be donated to the Every Life is Beautiful Fund. Producer/co-director Jon Erwin said, "We feel that it's very important to use October Baby as an opportunity to serve, give back, and save lives. That's what we want the Every Life Is Beautiful Fund to be about!"
Spoiler alert: If you see this movie, stay for the credits, for that is where the real gem is found. As they begin to roll, an on-screen interview appears with Shari Rigby, who portrays Cindy, Hannah’s birth mother. At the showing this reviewer attended, the mad rush to the exit was halted as every ear was riveted to the touching interview. Ms. Rigby told how making this movie helped her overcome a devastating and haunting real-life experience.
October Baby is the latest pro-life film to grace the screen. In fact, John Schneider also starred in Doonby, another tale about the value of life and the consequences of bad choices. Doonby, like October Baby, had a limited release earlier this year, and even earned the praise of the Vatican for its powerful message. Doonby also stars Norma McCorvey, the real-life Jane Roe of the infamous Roe v. Wade case, who later recanted her "pro-choice" views and now bravely champions the rights of the unborn.
Actions have consequences. And many in modern-day America have severely damaged women by implying that they don’t. Movies such as October Baby do a great service by telling the truth: that choices do matter, and that we must be accountable. It’s about time.