Movies Way Back When: A Controversial Silent Movie

Movies Way Back When: A Controversial Silent Movie title=
Image: The Cinema, December 9, 1915
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By Betsy J. Green

“The Miracle of Life” (1915) was an unusual “Flying A” movie about abortion. Some scenes were filmed at a million-dollar mansion in Montecito. A young married woman is unhappy to discover that she is pregnant. She is reluctant to give up her present lifestyle, and so obtains a medication to induce a miscarriage.

But before she can drink the medication, she falls asleep and dreams of herself as an unhappy old woman who regrets not having children. When she wakes, she has a change of heart and pours the medication into the garden on a plant that shrivels up. She then tells her husband that they are going to be parents, and this becomes another movie with a happy ending.

This film paved the way for a similar movie called “Where Are My Children?” made by another silent movie company in 1916.

Betsy's Way Back When book -- 1919 -- is now available in local bookstores and at This is the sixth book in her series of the history of Santa Barbara, one year at a time. Learn more at​.
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sonny Oct 24, 2021 01:31 PM
Movies Way Back When: A Controversial Silent Movie

There is nothing mentioned in this article to document why it was considered "controversial". It sounds like the movie expressed the thought that having a baby was wonderful even if the pregnant woman didn't want to have the baby at the time. Was it "controversial" in 1915 to express the idea that having a baby was always good? Is there any documentation of controversy about the movie when and after it was made?

a-1635124573 Oct 24, 2021 06:16 PM
Movies Way Back When: A Controversial Silent Movie

What I think is impressive about this movie is the idea that abortion medications were available a century ago. The idea that a person could choose that by just going to a pharmacist is better than what is available today when even 'morning after' pills are hard to come by. What has happened? Basically the religious nuts have become more powerful and entitled. So much for progress.

SBTownie Oct 24, 2021 06:56 PM
Movies Way Back When: A Controversial Silent Movie

You're really reaching here. Abortion pills back then were not reliable, or even safe. They often contained numerous poisons or sketchy concoctions and were completely unregulated. This was not modern medicine. To act like women have it worse now is truly hysteria.

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