How To Deal

90. How To Deal (2003) [Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug material, language and some thematic elements.]

summary from

A teenager (Moore), disillusioned by too many examples of love gone wrong, refuses to believe that true love exists. Then this new guy (Ford) comes along…

directed by: Clare Kilner

starring: Mandy Moore, Trent Ford, Allison Janney, Alexandra Holden, Dylan Baker, Peter Gallagher

A Trailer


Abortion/Life Content:

Mandy Moore: “Nausea”?

Alexandra Holden: A little.

Moore: “Breast tenderness”?

Holden: Yeah. Major.

Moore: “Food cravings”?

Holden: Grapefruit.

Moore: Come on, I could answer “yes” to most of these questions, too.

Holden: I used to hate grapefruit.

Moore: What’s wrong?

Holden: No offense, Halley, but… your perfume is making me sick.

Moore: Oh, come on, I’m not wearing perfume. I use soap. “Heightened sense of smell.” Okay, so do you prefer direct pee-on-a-strip or dip-in-a-cup? Maybe it’s a false reading. Because I have heard of things such as false readings. And the strips did not look completely pink, only kind of pinkish, so…

Holden: Five kits, Halley. What am I gonna do? […]

Holden: Mom… taking your car out is gonna seem like the least of it… because whatever you’re thinking right now… it’s worse.

Connie Ray: One of you better tell me before I have a nervous breakdown.

Holden: I’m pregnant.

Ray: Well, thank ### you told me in time.

Mandy Moore: My best friend is an only child. She’s having a baby, which at our age is something that obviously wasn’t planned. And her mom is not really thrilled about the whole situation, but I really think she’s kind of starting to get behind it now, so…

Alexandra Holden: You know, it’s weird. Because if you were the one that was pregnant… I would understand you considering having an abortion or putting the baby up for adoption.

Mandy Moore: You can still put the baby up for adoption.

Holden: No. I know all the arguments. And I know what I’m giving up. And I know that nothing is gonna be normal for me anymore. But what is normal, anyway? Growing up with my mom sure wasn’t. Losing Michael wasn’t.

Charlotte Sullivan: So, when’s Scarlett due, anyway?

Mandy Moore: You know?

Sullivan: Yeah, my mom’s a bookkeeper in her doctor’s office, but… don’t worry. I haven’t told anyone.

Moore: Third week of May.

Sullivan: ###, that is so freaky. You know, it’s weird, but… I didn’t even know they had hooked up.

Moore: Really? They went out all summer.

Sulliavan: Did they?

Moore: Yeah, and he was completely in love with her.

Sullivan: She’s ruining her life, you know. I think I’d kill myself before I had a baby. I know enough to know I wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Moore: You’re probably right, because you’re not Scarlett.

Sullivan: Right. Thank ### for that.

Thomas Hauff: You may now kiss the bride.

Trent Ford: She’s having the baby. Now.

Mandy Moore: Right now? Scarlett’s having the baby. I have to go. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Scarlett’s having the baby. Breathe.

Connie Ray: Wait, wait, wait! No. ####! Oh, for heaven’s sake.

Moore: It’s okay. You’re gonna have the baby!



Scarlett’s mother says, “Thank God you told me in time” about her daughter’s pregnancy (possibly indicating she wants her to have an abortion, but she doesn’t address that again). Scarlett later briefly comments on the abortion option regarding her pregnancy, but says that she’s going to keep the baby.

about the books that the movie is based on from

Scarlett is Halley’s best friend. She finds out she is pregnant after her boyfriend died in a motorcycle accident. She tells her mother and her mother immediately takes her to get an abortion. Scarlett becomes afraid and decides not to go through with it. She never considers abortion again. She makes the choice to keep the baby and does the research. She knows it will be hard, but she also knows she has friends and family who will help her.

part of an article by Charles Taylor from the leftist

“How to Deal” has been made by people who heard the phrase “a woman’s right to choose” and took it seriously. Because those words have been used (by necessity) in defense of abortion rights, “a woman’s right to choose” has come to mean a woman’s right to choose an abortion. In other words, it’s the opposite of a real choice, pointing to a conclusion as predetermined as the one preached by the anti-choice crowd. “How to Deal” puts that contradiction right on the screen in the scene where Scarlett informs her mother that she’s pregnant and her mother’s response is, “Thank God you told me in time.” It’s a startling moment because it puts a view that denies choice — she never asks Scarlett what she wants to do — in the mouth of someone who doesn’t oppose abortion. The scene runs the risk of being misread as pro-life in the same simplistic way that “Papa Don’t Preach” was misread. But Scarlett’s decision to have her baby is in a line of descent from the voice of childish petulance Madonna adopted in that song.

It’s probably the wrong idea; it probably would be smarter if she chose to have an abortion or put the kid up for adoption. But it wouldn’t be realistic to the film’s attempt to present the swirl of melodrama that teenagers live in. In that context, a teenage girl whose boyfriend tragically drops dead is going to keep his child. It’s significant that Scarlett’s choice has nothing to do with peer pressure or parental pressure, that it doesn’t stem from any belief that abortion is a sin. And it doesn’t buy into the notion that, for a teenage girl, a baby is a status symbol.

“How to Deal” consistently stands up for a teenage girl’s right to make choices about her own sexuality, even if they’re the wrong choices. When Halley’s mom finds Halley and her sweetie making out on the couch, she reacts as even the most levelheaded parents do and freaks out, asking Halley if this is how she behaves in her own house? Halley turns the tables on her by noting that if it’s her house then she has some say in how she behaves in it. […]

“How to Deal” doesn’t demonize parents who are dealing with their kids’ sexuality. Janney isn’t presented as an ogre for grounding Halley after she walks in on her makeout session, and the disapproval Scarlett’s mom shows for her daughter’s decision to have her baby clearly comes out of wanting the best for her. But for all its melodrama the movie recognizes a real world where kids do have sex and thus it implicitly criticizes any attempt to deny that; it implicitly says that withholding information can do a lot more harm than providing it.

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One Response to How To Deal

  1. Pingback: Welcome | Abortion in Film

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