Jill Stanek, Michael Corleone and abortion

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Jill Stanek is a tenacious blogger. She was a nurse at Christ hospital in the Chicago area who witnessed babies who survived attempted abortions being left to die. She has nobly fought for the rights of unborn child and for the rights of families since. Her blogging (both at her own blog and at the Illinois Review blog) is often an excellent source of news and commentary about the pro-life movement in Illinois and the shameful shananigans of our state legislature. For instance, here, she shows that if we really wanted to mandate vaccines that would save lives, we would go after the flu, not cervical cancer.

But sometimes, she can be a little crazy. And by a little crazy, I mean insane.

You know the scene at the end of Godfather II, where Kay tells Michael that she aborted their baby and he slaps her? It's pretty much the most depressing scene in movie history. First, there's Kay. Terrified of her husband the murderer, she kills her unborn child. Then we have Michael. This scene marks the bottom of his downward spiral. Faced with the reality that even his own wife, the woman he professes to live, is abhorred by him, he lashes out at her.

Jill Stanek looks at this scene and... well, this is what she sees:

That spontaneous slap was the reaction of a real man who a woman had just told she aborted his baby. Compare that to the modern day cowardly male response, "It's your choice. Whatever you decide, I'll support you." Or worse, his threat to abandon her if she does not abort.

It was this fierce devotion to family that strangely endeared us to the Corleone men despite their otherwise heinous behavior.

We love him because he smacks his wife. You see, it shows how much he loves his family.


The Godfather trilogy is the story of the train wreck that is Michael Corleone's life. When we first meet him, he's a war hero, a true Italian-American success story, complete with the WASPy girlfriend. The world is his oyster. As he gets mixed up in the family business. things start falling apart. We start to see it in part 1, where he grows cold dealing with Kay, even refusing to tell her he loves her on the phone. ("Hey Michael! Why don't you tell that nice girl that you love her?") When he flees to Sicily, he marries another woman, who becomes the first casualty of his involvement in the family business when an attempt to kill Michael takes her out instead. He returns to America, reconnects with Kay and marries her. So is he finding redemption? Well, the movie ends with him going on a murder spree (one victim being his sister's husband), lying to Kay about it and in the final scene, we see the actual and metaphorical door being closed on Kay's face, shutting her out of that part of his life.

Part 2 starts with his son's First Communion. The party is a ridiculous event complete with brass band and politicians who don't know his son's name. The event is ostensibly about young Anthony, but it's really about Michael's power and connections and ends with an attempt on Michael's life. The rest of the film documents Michael's descent, culminating in Kay aborting their child and leaving him and then the murder of Fredo.

In part 3, we see Michael is repentant, sort of. He wants out of the crime business, but he still lusts for power, attempting a takeover of the Vatican Bank. Mildly repentant though he may be, and despite his best attempts to reconcile with his estranged family members, the wrecking ball keeps swinging, and by the end of the movie, it claims his daughter - the one person left in the world who still loves him. He dies alone with his corpse being sniffed by the dog.

Back to the actual scene where Kay confesses the abortion. Her whole point is that she had the abortion because he's a villain. The war hero she fell in love with and married and who promised to legitimize the family has become a man whose primary business is violence. So how does he respond? Pow! He turns his ruthlessness towards her.

Contrast this: in part 1, Sonny, who is pretty much a stupid sociopath, comes to the aid his sister when he finds out her husband is beating her. Michael, however, is the wife beater. Along with the murder of Fredo, this scene marks the point where he loses all of our sympathy, as we see that the one virtue he professes, loyalty to family, is not always binding.

In fact, there simply is no virtue in the scene. If we were to look for any pro-life lessons to be drawn, the best we could do would be to say that it points to abortion as a crisis of fatherhoood. Kay is horrified by Michael; she thinks the child inside of her could be another Michael, and she can't stand it. If he loved her, if he treasured her and took care of her, above all by being an honorable man himself, the abortion would never have happened.

I understand what Jill is trying to say. Men should stand up for their children, they should be good men and take care of their families, but how she thinks the pro-life cause is served by using an example like this is beyond me. I'd say that she didn't think before using this example, but even after I called attention to her craziness in the comments of her post, she sticks to her guns. What else can one say? This kind of thing makes every pro-lifer look bad.

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Papa-Lu, first thanks for your kind words about my "tenacious" blogging and links to my blog.

Let me clarify. Your analysis of my column was to say I said, "We love him because he smacks his wife. You see, it shows how much he loves his family."

But that's not what I said. My point was if a man has just been told a woman has killed his child, I would not fault him for responding with a slap. I cannot think of a better reason for righteous indignation.

The "real man" comparison was to that of a coward who would tell the mother of his child it's her "choice" whether or not to abort; or someone who would threaten to leave a woman if she doesn't kill his baby.

I'm not saying a slap in the a fit of anger is Scriptural. Jesus turned over tables but didn't hit people. But I do understand, and in my opinion the man who has that reaction is more of a man than the other two.

You gave a great synopsis of the Godfather trilogy. When I said, "It was this fierce devotion to family that strangely endeared us to the Corleone men despite their otherwise heinous behavior," it was re: all that. We would not have emotionally invested in the movies had we not developed some shred of compassion for the protagonists. Michael's only redeeming character attribute, albeit flawed, was his love of his wife (wives) and prizing of children.

Finally, I think to portray Michael as a "wife beater" is an exageration. He slapped her once in visceral response to her revelation of having aborted their baby. At all other times before and during their marriage that I can recall, he treated her with respect.

Thanks for the response. In my first post, I focussed on why that statement didn't make sense in the context of the films, but I want to make clear that I don't think it makes sense on its on either. To that end, I want to highlight something you said that:

"My point was if a man has just been told a woman has killed his child, I would not fault him for responding with a slap. I cannot think of a better reason for righteous indignation."

This is where I have a problem. I agree with you that a man who shrugs off his beloved having an abortion is not a real man. I also agree that this is an instance where righteous anger would be justified. I just disagree wholeheartedly that physically assaulting the woman is evidence that the man is "really" a man.

Why wouldn't a woman go to her husband in the first place? Maybe there is something wrong with the relationship, or maybe she fears him. Or maybe the woman is mentally unstable in some way. Whatever the case is, the situation demands an attempt at compassion.

But what about the righteous anger? Again, I agree that a man ought to have his sense of justice enraged in such a situation, but a truly good man would also recognize his wife's distress and in some circumstances (particularly your example of Michael Corleone) even his own role in not being a man his wife felt she could trust. He would not condone, of course, but neither would he lash out. He would seek for a way to make things right.

Perhaps the man who gets mad and slaps his wife is better than the man who has no regard for the unborn child that was killed, but that's setting a low bar for what a "real man" is, which is how you described suh a reaction.

Why do I care? Am I just nitpicking? I hope it doesn't come off that way. You addressed a truly heinous situation in Italy in your column, but in this age where so many people look for any excuse to dismiss pro-lifers as kooks, I don't think it's smart to make that kind of analogy, even as an exaggeration or a stretch. I realize WND has a predominantly conservative readership, but when things are on the Web, anybody can read your column, including pro-abortion people as well as post-abortive women who may be hurting very badly. Suggesting that it's understandable for a real man to strike a woman because she had an abortion confirms all the worst steroetypes of pro-lifers, and that does no justice to those on our side, especially yourself.


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This page contains a single entry by Papa-Lu published on March 1, 2007 6:40 PM.

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