May the 4th be with you! Whether or not you’re a Star Wars nerd like several of us here at Care Net, I’d like to take this special day to share about a vital and under appreciated Star Wars scene that has impacted the way I serve those most vulnerable to abortion.
You might be surprised, but the scene comes from Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, featuring a rare moment of good acting from Hayden Christensen (who plays Anakin Skywalker). In the two preceding films, Anakin is trained from boyhood by Jedi Knights and is believed to be the “chosen one” who would bring balance to the Force. Anakin falls in love with Padme Amidala and marries her in secret, despite a rule that the Jedi are to remain free from emotional attachments.
About 25 minutes into Revenge of the Sith, Anakin arrives back from a dangerous but successful rescue mission and meets Padme in the shadows of the large pillars of the Galactic Senate Building. If none of that means anything to you, here’s where something of multi-universal relatability happens:
As they speak and embrace, Anakin says to Padme, “Are you alright? You’re trembling. What’s going on?” Padme looks worried, but offers this brave response…
“Something wonderful has happened. Ani, I’m pregnant.”
Anakin’s face shows a wave of emotions. “That’s…” he begins, and then pauses. As Padme searches his eyes expectantly, we can imagine his mind racing, considering each obstacle from the secrecy of their relationship to the danger and difficulty of his life as a Jedi. But—and this is crucial—he only pauses for a moment.
His eyes return to hers and with a smile he says, “That’s wonderful.”
Still concerned, Padme asks, “What are we going to do?”
Anakin responds, “We’re not going to worry about anything right now, alright? This is a happy moment. The happiest moment of my life.” He hugs and kisses Padme.
Any father who watches this scene may remember the moment he first found out his child was on the way. Even when expected under the most ideal circumstances, that knowledge can take your breath away.
In my recent role as the men’s services director at my local pregnancy center, however, I spoke with many men who faced this moment and didn’t know how to respond. Society has told us that if there are any difficult circumstances surrounding a pregnancy, the responsible man will answer the question, “What are we going to do?” with the statement, “I’ll support whatever you choose.”
Though such a response may be well-intended, it can often make women feel alone. Anakin doesn’t have all the answers but notice that he uses the word “we” instead of “you.” He enters into the messiness with Padme instead of leaving the burden on her shoulders. He communicates his happiness instead of hiding his feelings.
Now, if you’re familiar with the rest of the Star Wars story, you might ask: doesn’t Anakin turn evil and everything sort of falls apart? True, Anakin’s fear of losing Padme is exploited by the evil Sith lord, leading him to the dark side. But that doesn’t change the beauty of the scene above.
Even as Anakin undergoes a dark transformation to become Darth Vader, we witness the birth of a new hope: Luke Skywalker and his twin sister, Leia. Padme dies shortly after giving birth, but Obi-Wan Kenobi sees to the adoption and safety of the newborns. Someday, Luke will return as a Jedi to confront his father Darth Vader with the belief that there is still some good in him. In a plot that can only mimic the complexity of God’s plan for our world, the prophecy that Anakin would restore balance to the Force ends up being fulfilled through an unplanned pregnancy he welcomed and supported before turning to the dark side.
In any case, Anakin got the first step of his fatherhood journey right. In fact, in a real world where abortion is on the table, we need to equip men to speak up and respond to their partners with similar care. Care Net’s research shows that women are most likely to discuss their decision to terminate a pregnancy with the father of the baby. What an opportunity for us to serve not only women, but also men and families, building them up for each step instead of preying on their fears.
I hope you’ll join me in praying for the many couples facing a new unplanned pregnancy today and that you’ll consider helping us reach them with compassion, hope, and help.