Play offers inside view of U.S. abortion legalization

| October 5, 2010 | 0 Comments

From left, Andrew Menke of St. Louis, King of France in St. Paul, Joseph Turner of St. Agnes in St. Paul, and John Capistrant of St. Columba in St. Paul rehearse a scene from the play, “Jenny,” written by Bob Hindel of St. Andrew in St. Paul. Menke plays Rick, who gets romantically involved with Jenny, resulting in an unplanned pregnancy that creates a subplot in the play. Turner and Capistrant play two of his friends. Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Bob Hindel of St. Andrew in St. Paul grew up surrounded by family members who supported abortion.

“Everyone was pro-choice except me,” he said.

Hindel’s passionate pro-life stance continues today, and he recently has found a stage to express his views — literally.

Within the last month, he finished writing a play called “Jenny,” which will be performed at three local venues this month. The debut is Oct. 14 at the University of St. Thomas, followed by performances at St. Andrew Oct. 15, 16 and 17, and another show Oct. 26 at the University of Minnesota’s Coffman Memorial Union.

Echoes of real life

The play, a musical, is set in and around New York City and centers on how several key people and or­ga­ni­zations worked to make abortion legal in the United States. Among the characters is an abortionist nam­ed Dr. Bernard Abramson, played by John Steinert of St. Olaf in Min­nea­polis.

The character is patterned after Dr. Bernard Nathanson, a former abor­tion doctor who wrote a book titled, “Aborting America.” He also helped found the National Abortion Rights Action League, and said he performed 75,000 abortions at a clinic in New York before becoming pro-life and eventually converting to Catholicism.

“For me, personally, the driving thing for writing this play was the actual story of Bernard Nathanson,” Hindel, 55, said. “He’s not a crook. He’s not a criminal. He’s just a misguided secular humanist [during his days as an abortion doctor].”

As the plot unfolds, two of Ab­ram­son’s medical students, Jenny and Rick, become romantically involved, and Jenny eventually gets pregnant.

This becomes one of the play’s subplots as Jenny wrestles with what to do about her unplanned pregnancy.

As much as Hindel hopes his play will be attended by pro-lifers, he hopes to draw those who support abortion rights as well.

“I believe it gives pro-abortion people a pretty fair shake,” he said. “We have to portray abortion people in a fair light, not a degrading or demeaning light.”

Though he intends to use the play to show why the pro-life argument is the right one, he also wants to help audience members understand why pro-choice people believe as they do. He considers this an important part of the current cultural de­bate.

“In order to defeat [the pro-abortion mentality], we have to understand why people get into it,” he said. “I think I have a first-hand idea of why people are pro-choice, and that is what we try to put out in the play.”

Long time in the making

The roots of writing the play go back about 10 years, when Hindel helped form a group called Neigh­bors for Life with friend Jim Tarsney, who ended up writing some of the song lyrics eventually used in the play.

“We performed these songs in con­certs and we said they were excerpts from our play, ‘Jenny.’ But, the play did not exist,” Hindel said. “I definitely had the intention of writing it, but it had to wait a while.”

“A while” ended up being this past June, when Hindel scrambled to finish writing the play and quickly moved to recruiting cast members and director Nancy Barrett of St. Mary in St. Paul.

The play features 19 local actors, most of whom are Catholic. Playing Jenny is Christine Nicholson of Mar­a­natha Church in Minneapolis, and Rick, her boyfriend, is played by Andrew Menke of St. Louis King of France in St. Paul. Also in the play are Sue and Ed Adams of Holy Fam­ily in St. Louis Park. They are the parents of Father James Adams, pastor of St. Nicholas in New Market.

Want to go?

» What: “Jenny,” a pro-life musical.

» When: 7 p.m. Oct. 14 at the University of St. Thomas, O’Shaugh­nessy Education Center; 7 p.m. Oct. 15 and 16, and 3 p.m. Oct. 17 at St. Andrew in St. Paul; and 8 p.m. Oct. 26 at the University of Minnesota’s Coffman Memorial Union.

» Cost: Free; a free-will offering will be taken. Suggested donation is $10 per person, $20 per family.

» More info: Contact Bob Hindel at (651) 271-6405 or

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