For most of Juno’s 15-year history, it’s been well regarded as a quirky indie film that made Elliot Page a star and launched screenwriter Diablo Cody’s career. But in light of the recent overturn of Roe v. Wade, the film falls under a new light for its critical inciting incident: Juno being talked out of an abortion by an anti-choice classmate protesting at the clinic.
While Cody has “no regrets about writing the movie,” she tells The Hollywood Reporter, “I do think it’s important that I continue to clarify my feelings about it because the last thing I would ever want is for someone to interpret the movie as anti-choice. That is a huge paranoia of mine.”
She stresses now, “I am emphatically pro-choice and have been my entire life. And it is important to me to make that clear. But, you know, I can understand why people would misunderstand the movie. Looking back at it, I can see how it could be perceived as anti-choice. And that horrifies me.”
The writer claims that the overwhelming reception to the film prevented her from absorbing much criticism at the time. However, she recalls, “Back in 2008, I got a letter from some administrator at my Catholic high school thanking me for writing a movie that was in line with the school’s values. And I was like: ‘What have I done?’ My objective as an artist is to be a traitor to that culture, not to uplift it.”
In part, Juno being frightened off of the procedure probably had to do with Cody herself being “bombarded with gory, misleading anti-abortion propaganda at school” as a young person. “I’m not scared of abortion anymore; I’ve had one now,” she says, “And it was a hell of a lot less scary than giving birth. But the movie is a reflection of how I felt as a young woman.”
These days, the conversation Cody sees spring up around the film has to do with “the ethics of private adoption.” But writing the infamous abortion clinic scene in 2005, it “never occurred” to Cody that her “reproductive rights could be in danger.” She admits, “I took Roe for granted, and many of us did. I was just creating; I never intended the movie as any kind of political statement at all. I can’t imagine being that innocent again.”