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Published: April 5, 2012 2:12 pm to Culture News

What the Hunger Games trilogy knows about the pro-life movement

Have you seen the movie The Hunger Games? Better yet, have you read the trilogy? If you’ve been putting them off or looking for a reason to enjoy Suzanne Collins’s explosive series, here is another reason to add these books to your short-list.

After reading The Hunger Games and seeing the ensuing movie, I couldn’t help seeing a pro-life agenda hidden in its pages and scenes. Let me show you:

“It sends out a very clear message: ‘Mess with us and we’ll do something worse than kill you. We’ll kill your children.’” The Hunger Games

It’s easy to be disgusted by The Capitol’s attitude toward keeping a stable society. Each year, 26 children are forced to fight to the death in a televised bloodbath, leaving one lonely victor to tell the tale. But, what people in our society often overlook is the fact that thousands of our own children are being slaughtered each day in the name of status quo – keeping a pregnant woman’s childless life intact. Maybe it’s time readers ask themselves why the Hunger Games are so stomach-turning, yet the idea of abortion is run-of-the-mill. Are they not both government-sanctioned genocides?

Photo credit: Nomadic Lass on Flickr

“Destroying things is much easier than making them.” The Hunger Games

Isn’t that the truth? How much easier is it for a mother to kill her unwanted child than to birth him? And let’s not forget diapers, night feedings, clothing, discipline, college tuition, and so forth. Yes, life would be easier without a kid, but does that justify destroying it? And let’s not forget…

“But I don’t know what to tell him about the aftermath of killing a person. About how they never leave you.” Mockingjay

Abortion is often considered justified by many in the cases of rape, incest, or disease. Let’s not downplay the horrific effects that these events can have on the human body, mind, and soul. But at the same time, does the victim of one of these instances deserve more pain then he or she has already endured? Do people not realize the scars that an abortion will leave on the heart and the soul? Will that person be able to face her child in the afterlife and say, “I killed you because I was hurt myself”?

“But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction.” Mockingjay

Abortion is often associated with the liberal-minded. It is a cause they fight for in the name of human rights. It is popular. It is in-style. It is the norm. But, could it be that this liberal thinking is simply a fad? I can only hope. I hope that one day we understand the destruction we are causing in our world and beyond and, perhaps more importantly, remember the error of our ways lest history repeat itself.

“Only I keep wishing I could think of a way…to show The Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than a piece in their games.” The Hunger Games

Finally, think about the life that ends when an abortion takes place. If we want to fight for human rights, let’s start with the most helpless of humans. Let’s start with the unborn. And instead of using babies as kindle in the political fire, let’s find ways to enlighten the minds of those in darkness without engaging in mindless babble and arguments. Pray for those on the other side. Listen to their thoughts, and gently guide them to the truth. And, “May the odds be ever in your favor!”

Disclaimer: Suzanne Collins and the Hunger Games Trilogy are not affiliated with this post in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

About Jenna Hines

Jenna Hines is a former high school English teacher turned stay-at-home-mom from the Midwest. She spends her days taking care of her daughter and creating content for her blog, www.callherhappy.com.
View all posts by Jenna Hines

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeep.obsessed Brooke Mehr

    Minor correction: 24 (not 26) fight to the death every year.

    Also: “But, at the same time, does the victim of one of these instances deserve more pain THAN they have already endured?”
    and: “And, instead of using babies as kindle in the political fire…” I think you mean kindling.

    Good article :) An interesting correlation between the two.

    • http://www.callherhappy.com/ Jenna@CallHerHappy

       Thanks, Brooke. I must have sent over my rough copy! All of the edits are correct on my blog :)

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeep.obsessed Brooke Mehr

        It happens :) I just had to point them out.

  • Bannwalk14

    In general, I don’t like seeing a series like this. Twilight was awful, and The Hunger Games would be just as bad.

    • http://twitter.com/CaitlinMJ12 Caitlin Johnson

      I have read all Twilight and Hunger Games books,seen all the movies that are out and I would encourage you to not blindly judge. Twilight tells the story of a human girl in love with a vampire. There is more to it of course. For instance, a love triangle with a werwolf, other vampires out to get her, and the birth of a half-human, half-vampire baby. The Hunger Games tell the story of a futuristic Joan of Arc who helps begin and lead a rebellion agains a cruel and tyrannical Capitol. Yes, it does come complete with a love triangle but the premise of the story is fighting for human rights. 

      • Jeanette Hancock

        Twilight is a disgrace, its not even written well. It boils down to a silly girl’s choice between necrophilia and beastiality, and she shows obvious mental health problems not being able to deal with being single.

        The Hunger games cannot, and should not, be compared to that pig slop.

        I did notice the strong pro-life undertones in The HUnger Games, whether intentional or not.

  • EnderWiggin

    The Hunger Games is absolutely nothing like Twilight. Hunger Games deals with deep emotional conflicts and rebellion against a despotic government, and Twilight deals with…a lovesick teenage girl.

    • Jenny2

       At least the Twilight Series promotes Abstinence till Marriage.  And despite Bella Swan’s lack of character substance apart from her identity in being the “soul mate” of Edward–she at least is willing to risk her own life rather than kill the baby inside her. 
      Katniss Everdeen admits she would have sold her body for food if she had not learned to hunt. There is an episode in Book 2 where she deals with her stress by getting drunk–excellent example of encouraging underage drinking to deal with problems.  And then she does not allow herself to get pregnant for years after the war, because of her continual fears of bringing children into the society… 
      Umm, if it’s a choice between the two books as far as which character is a better role model–I’m gonna have to go with the pathetic lovesick teen.

      • Jdjdjeeeeerrrryyy

        So we want to teach our girls that they should like when boys stalk them, control them, and hurt them? That’s the best set up for an abusive relationship that I ever did see. You forget that bella was flattered when she discovered Edward was going into her room at night, that she put up with him controlling who her friends were, and I could go on and on. Because of twilight we have young girls asking complete strangers to bite them. Now I’m not saying twilight is the worst book in the world, but that you shouldn’t ever in any circumstance site it as a role model for girls.

        • Jenny2

           I said if it was a “CHOICE” between the two female characters, I’d have to go with the lovesick teen.  Neither are true “heroines” by my standards (literary or moral).  But for the past 12yrs, I have volunteered doing Abstinence/Sex Education lectures to Junior High/High Schools and train Health Ed & Nursing Students at two different colleges.  You would be surprised how much the Twilight series has promoted abstinence till marriage and how often that is used as a contemporary entertainment example.  As to the “young girls asking complete strangers to bite them”, I don’t think you can blame that entirely on Twilight (especially considering Edward never actually bites her).  I think that is more the fault of the Vampire Diaries teen book series since in those books Elena allows Stefan to drink from her as if its an act of kissing.  The same with the True Blood/Sookie Stackhouse Vampire books…

          • Jdjdjeeeeerrrryyy

            Bella actually wanted to have sex with edward and didn’t want to marry him, he had to do all the work on that forefront. And there are interviews with Robert pattinson where he says fans come up to him all the time and ask him to bite them.

      • Elise77

        If I knew that my future children would be subjected to the possibility
        of having to fight other children to the death, I’d avoid
        pregnancy as well. Being pro-life doesn’t mean that that there’s anything wrong with preventing pregnancy through responsible methods in non-ideal circumstances. In fact, in the case cited, preventing the existence of children who would be forced to view other children as enemies who must be killed seems more pro-life than not.

        And if I had the choice between selling my body and feeding my family or watching them all starve, would it be morally preferable to watch them starve? I pray to God I’m never faced with having to do something considered immoral in order to feed my children, but if I had to watch them starve to death, it would be small consolation that I had maintained my “honor.” Can’t comment on the entire series, as I haven’t read it through yet. But so far, it seems as though it explores a worst-case scenario without being exploitative, and that it touches on virtues like love, friendship, and sacrifice.

        Furthermore, Bella risks her own life to bear her baby- laudable, no doubt. Katniss risks HER life to save her sister. Is that not at least equally heroic?

        • Jenny2

           Elise, I think the key thing I am pulling out of your post is that you have NOT yet read the entire series.  The first book sets a great foundation for what you believe is a good vs evil fight–I loved it.  The problem is that as the series progresses, the lines of what is evil gets blurred and you have the “heroine” start making rationalizations as to what is a more humane death in certain situations.  These rationalizations have Katniss go from first the mindset of she would rather never have children then risk their death in the arena…to then rationalizing killing her friends rather then having them fall into the Capitol’s hands.  Not to ruin the books for you but there are several times where Katniss chooses to kill someone as a “mercy killing”.  That is a very slippery slope as far as assisted suicide, and yet it is consistently put forth.  Katniss even tries to kill Peeta in the end of book 2 with a syringe, rather then have him fall into the hands of the Capitol (no worries, she doesn’t succeed).  When people try to preemptively kill innocent human beings because of the rationalization that it is more humane, they have lost their moral compass, evil has won…and this is what has happened in our culture when it comes to abortion.  People rationalize it is better to kill them (babies) prior to them living an unwanted or difficult life.
          I just have an EXTREME difficulty in gleaming any Prolife message in this series when those that look closely can see that it is such the opposite by the end.  Now, as to your comment that being Prolife doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t take responsible methods to preventing pregnancy–I totally agree.  As a health care professional, I have no problem with contraception or encouraging people to use it consistently and accurately.  But, in this book, Katniss PREVENTS pregnancy for 15YEARS.  Anyone who is familiar with statistics regarding contraception knows that it is near medically/scientifically impossible for a girl to have 100% non-conception accuracy for that amount of time.  I don’t care if you are following all steps to correct condom placement, taking the oral pill the same time every day for best absorption, and that there are no other mitigating factors of interference–to think that you will avoid creating a baby for 15yrs is ludicrous.  The only logical explanation is that Katniss Everdeen’s rationalization mindset of preemptively killing continued even to her own womb.  This is why I have such an issue with the author of this blog post, she completely embarrassed the Prolife cause by only showing she was ignorant to the hidden meanings that were whispered throughout the series.

          • EnderWiggin

            Okay. Let’s look at it this way. Suzanne Collins was trying to write a book series that could portray life as it actually is; complex, many-sided. Yes, there are pro-life elements, and yes there are elements which are violent and with which we do not agree. I don’t necessarily think that this blog should have been written. I think the author wrung “pro-life” ideas out of it, perhaps for PR’s sake. 

            Suzanne Collins was not (at least in my opinion) trying to promote or deny the sanctity of life absolutely, but to show that humans are capable of both good and bad reasoning, and that sometimes they fall short of the truth.

          • EnderWiggin

            Let me tell you a story. There was a group of Israelites who lived in a city called Massada (I think I spelled it right.). They were attacked by Romans, and when it became apparent that they would be overtaken, all the men slaughtered their families and then committed suicide rather than allow themselves to be taken captive, enslaved, prostituted, etc. Do we like that idea? No. Do we find it repulsive? Quite possibly. But these “mercy killings” as you call them are not always wrong, and the lines between right and wrong are not always starkly drawn.

      • http://twitter.com/cautiouslives Leanne

        @Jenny2: You can’t exactly say that Katniss is totally against babies. The war in Mockingjay left her terrified, and both her and Peeta suffered from PTSD the reason she didn’t want babies wasn’t because she was against the idea, it was because she valued the life of her unborn children and didn’t want another Hunger Games to happen, where they might have been chosen. It wasn’t that she was against it, she was terrified for their well-being.

      • divertida

        Bella a role model? She irritated me all throughout the Twilight Series. Not only would real life edward be a stalker and (more or less) a pedophile, but he does try to control her. Bella’s whole life falls apart at the loss of him. I don’t think I would want my daughter, if I had one, to fall to pieces like that at the loss of every guy she dates. The couple had really not even been together very long by New Moon. The value of her life is essentially nothing without Edward. She does not get drunk, but she engages in risky behavior which might have resulted in death. She seems borderline suicidal. She can barely function even after MONTHS of basically not functioning at all. Furthermore, I don’t think those books promote abstinence before marriage so much as getting married to have sex and marrying young. Think about it. She wants to have sex with Edward. Edward tells her she has to marry him first. She agrees, not because she loves Edward and desires to make that lasting commitment but because she wants sex (and to become a vampire). They emotionally blackmail each other to get what they want. 
        This is not the picture of a healthy relationship or a guide for sexual behavior. 

      • EnderWiggin

        And the Hunger Games doesn’t promote abstinence until marriage? In both books there is platonic “snuggling” or whatever term you want to put on it, the only difference is that in Hunger Games…the main character wasn’t pleading with her boyfriend to have sex with her.

      • Snow_white

        I would expect a pro-life advocate to actually celebrate a character who doesn’t let herself get pregnant. Would only make sense.

        • mythought

          Lol…doesn’t let herself get pregnant?  Actually, she does – after marriage.  Read the third book in the series.  This does indeed fit a pro-life worldview.  When Katniss was talking about never wanting kids, you might remember that she was also talking about never getting married, and she also wasn’t sleeping around.

  • Liz Timmerman

    This type of commentary will help the pro-life movement.  Saving babies needs to relate to pop-culture.  It is our only hope.  Great article Jenna!

  • Melissa

    Wow! I didn’t like this article at all and I’m very upset that “The Hunger Games” was twisted into the Pro-Life agenda.  I haven’t read any of the books or seen the movie but I have talked to people who have and I have read lots of reviews and such online.  I refuse to support this franchise because it clearly undermines the sanctity of life.  Everyone who I have talked to who have read the books have said how good they are and they admit it’s a little gruesome or weird to like something so much that is based on killing.  When you consider abortion here in the US, what is going in Austrialia with abortion (watch this video for more info: 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O585SiIeyis), the recent article from ethicists arguing about killing newborn babies, and these books/movie, it’s a scary picture of where we are headed.  The success behind these books and movies is scary (especially among Christians and young adults who they are marketed towards). They are just numbing us more to death and murder. They do nothing to help show how sacred and beautiful life is. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/tracylane Tracy Shaw Eliason

      Though I agree that these books weren’t all that “pro-life”, (I wouldn’t want to have children either if I lived in a society like that!), I think the violence is no different than any other “war” or “sci-fi” movie out there.  In fact, I thought they did a decent job minimizing the gore, they didn’t show much for the most part – it certainly wasn’t like your typical slasher flick, and it was no “Braveheart”.  Not even in the books was it that bad.  But yeah, teens killing each other, creepy.  The thing I found most shocking/saddening in the story was the “Career Tributes” – the teens who had been “training” their whole lives for this bloodbath of a game and who were killing machines.  I think if it wasn’t for them being in the game, the other tributes would probably just hide out and avoid confrontation of any kind.  I know I would.  Anyways, this movie (books) is not for everyone.  I enjoyed them because I get so involved with the characters and think “what would I do if…”  and it makes me grateful to live where I live and have choices about my life.  Just my two cents.

    • Jordan Elizabeth

      It’s not undermining it! It’s not “fun” as the title The Hunger *Games* suggests. I know you hate it, but please see the movie. It will take two hours and eight dollars of your time and money and it is NOT pro-death. Rather, the whole point! is that this sick, twisted government has twisted the culture and brainwashed the people so that the Capitol thinks that the death is funny, and the Districts are beaten down and hopeless. You have heard very poor reviews. The theme of the novel is literally about fighting against being numbed to death and murder. The pivotal scene is when a little twelve-year-old girl dies, and it is painful and it is awful and the main character cries and cries, and then she makes a funeral: she covers the girl in flowers and sings and salutes her. She makes her an individual, not a pawn. If you even look at one of the quotes Hines used: “Only I keep wishing I could think of a way…to show The Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than a piece in their games.” The point is that his life is important, and the Capitol strips that from him. The POINT is that life is sacred, and we cannot destroy it’s sanctity.

      You don’t have to agree with me, but please don’t declare what the book “clearly” states when you’ve never read it. I think Hines did a great job with the comparison, and I think abortion, though NOT what the book is about, is exactly in the same direction as Collins fears that we will head throughout the novel.

    • ShortyBond

      Nothing makes me angrier than when someone judges something without seeing it themselves. It’s ignorant and immature. The Hunger Games has an extremely powerful message and I would rate it up there with Orwell books. It makes one truly think about the horror to which we are headed.

  • Jenny2

    The author of this article (Jenna Hines) obviously has not fully read the entire Hunger Games Trilogy.  The “heroine” of the series continually talks about how she does NOT want to have children and better for them to never be born then to risk them growing up under the control of the corrupt Capitol where they are at risk to be forced to murder each other in the arena.  If anything, this series continually has a very ANTI-LIFE theme.  The characters continually try to rationalize whether it is “more humane” for them to kill their friends rather than risk capture & torture.  It is not until the Epilogue of the final book where the “heroine” has allowed herself to have children in her mid thirties, when her fears have been relieved. 
    When those of the ProLife side do not do their homework before ignorantly blogging on a matter—it only discredits and embarrasses our cause.    

    • Jessica

       Yes, but Katniss does not want to even get married because she does not want to have kids. She is not of the mindset that it would be okay for her to get married and prevent herself from having kids. She knows that babies come with marriage.

      • Jenny2

        Jessica, perhaps you missed the Epilogue where AFTER she tells Peeta she loves him it says she waits 15YEARS despite his requests to have children.  That means she PREVENTED herself from having them(children) or Katniss Everdeen gets my award for longest forced celibacy.  People need to stop trying to create connections to their causes where there is none.
        Suzanne Collins wrote for PBS before writing her bestsellers.  She is the epitome of the ultra liberal feminist in her other creations.  It would almost be laughable that the author of this article would suggest that there was a prolife connection to the trilogy, but the problem is she is only mocking our cause with her ignorance to suggest such.

    • Scott

      I have not read the books yet, but remember they are part of a Trilogy…in books like Lord of the Rings, you don’t see all the character’s development in one book only, but have to proceed to read all of them. Don’t judge Frodo for what he’s done (or failed to do) at the end of the Fellowship. It’s the same for Hunger Games, I’m sure. Just because a character deals with moral dilemmas in a book does not mean they are bad or even at the end of their moral, spiritual, and human journey. If Katniss at the end of the Trilogy does decide to have children, then THAT is the development of character you look at, not Katniss as she is presented in the first two books. Those books are part of her journey, whether she did right or wrong. Judge the characters in the book by the redemption they seek, not simply by the evil actions they commit.

      • Jenny2

         Scott, once again I am debating someone as to the book series content when they themselves have not read the entire Trilogy.  I have read all three books and have re-read certain parts because I believe there were things written that had dual meanings.  Please read my above post in reply to Elise. 
        I agree that a character should not be judged by only one book, that it is the journey that molds them.  My issue is what Katniss Everdeen got molded into.  Granted the base of the series was the author’s commentary on war, so she had to show how war changes someone.  But, when whatever struggle one is dealing with has changed you into someone who rationalizes it is better to preemptively kill innocent humans rather than risk a worse death at the hands of someone else–you have lost hero status.  That is not to say that there weren’t true hero’s in this series, there were several.  But, when Katniss Everdeen is promoted in Prolife circles–please pass the emesis basin…it makes us all look like ignorant fools.

  • MoonChild02

    I can’t read The Hunger Games because of the subject matter. It turns my stomach. It’s based on an old Stephen King novel The Long Walk, which, when a teacher of mine told the story in class one time, I felt sick the rest of the day. It’s disgusting. No government should subjecting the citizens of their land to the torture of hurting and killing others, especially innocents killing innocents. It already happens in China on a regular basis, and sometimes here in the US. I don’t want to spend time reading a book, particularly one meant for leisure, that talks about it, bringing the reality of it one step closer. I cannot bear to live in a world that does that to a person. I really can’t stand to think about it.

    Really, if I want to read a sad story that makes me think, I reach for my favorite book, The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, or another favorite of mine, Taran Wanderer by Lloyd Alexander. Books about innocents killing innocents is just not my cup of tea.

    • Jordan Elizabeth

      It’s supposed to turn your stomach; that’s the point. It IS disgusting; that’s the point! It is not intended to amuse us when people die; the point is to show how absolutely disgusting and demonic it is when people are amused when people die. The goal is that we will never move one step closer to that world. I understand how it could seem that way without reading it, but whatever I feel about the series, the killing of children was NEVER meant to amuse. Not a single death is amusing. They are each saddening, disgusting, awful. The heroes (Katniss, Peeta, Rue) are repulsed by the deaths. Even the death of their worst enemy is not a happy, triumphant affair– it’s sad. Because it’s supposed to be.

  • Lbmmgssn

    Call me crazy, but I don’t see the correlation.

  • Jordan Elizabeth

    Interesting comparison. I was a little bothered, though, by the discussion of “destroying things is easier than making them,” because it seemed to imply that a baby is not “made” until it is born. In the case of abortion, I think that to make is easy; to destroy is impossible. A baby is made in a single one-night stand; the abortion can never be erased.

  • DolceBella2

    One thing that stuck me with the Hunger Games was how well the author demonstrated how a society can become used to violence and brutality. The attitudes and thoughts of the Capitol citizens towards the Hunger Games (how they actually thought that the HG were a huge party and how they could double think their way into believing that forcing children to kill other children was an honour etc) was very reminiscent to me of the attitudes of average people towards abortion. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/SueAnn-Porter/100002205723217 SueAnn Porter

    I think there is a typo in the second paragraph. shouldn’t   ” I couldn’t help seeing a pro-life agenda hidden in its pages and scenes. Let me show you:”

    be pro-choice????

  • LeFay

    I’ve read the entire Hunger Games series at least three times… I love the first book, but I find that the next two books decline in quality. I prefer Katniss Everdeen at the beginning of the series rather than at the end. I cannot respect the person she becomes.

    There are strains of pro-life thought in the first book, but there is much warped thought in the second and third books, like when she tries to kill Peeta to prevent him falling into the hands of the the Capitol or when she tries to kill herself (for real, not just pretend like in the arena) with the night lock pill. However, although these are Katniss’ actions, Collins doesn’t really make it clear whether she condones those actions or not – when Katniss tries to take the nightlock pill, I notice Peeta stops her. For me, by the end Peeta is the real moral hero – definitely not Katniss.

    I agree that there is some thought in the first book regarding the value of human life that can be deemed pro-life. But as the characters develop during Catching Fire and Mockingjay, their morals decline, with Katniss trying to kill her friends and Gale developing weapons whose effectiveness lies in the victim’s sense of compassion… just sick. Only Peeta retains his dignity.

    I’m not saying that the books aren’t pro-life. In fact, the author does point out the decline of Katniss’ morals and the fact that Peeta maintains his moral integrity. My point is that the books are confusing at times and blur two very different ways of thinking.

  • spencer gogue

    my bosses GOD  BLESS AND CHRIST FAMILY SAID ORDER NO WAR AS ANYKINDS OF WEAPONS STILL YOUR ORDER DEATH PENALTY ARE KILLER AND MURDER SAME DON’T MATTER AND YOU TELL THEM JUST IGNORE IT IF THEY CAN’T IGNORE IT THEN I WILL FIGHT WITH ALL POPE AND PRIESTS AND THE  WHITE HOUSE OF GOVERMENTS TOO ALL PEOPLE  NEED RICHES CUZ THEY JEALOUS OF RICHES NEVER HELP ALL POOR PEOPLE AND CHILDREN SO BAD HEART WILL BE LOST A TRUE

  • Juls

    People blinded by dogma, can see that dogma in REALLY everything.
    You could probably stare in my puppy’s eyes and see a pro-life agenda in there…
    The Hunger Games is about a society that commercializes pain and a realistic take on a strong young woman’s rebellion to that dystopic, but yet very realistic, world.

  • Cdmarlow

    How absolutely ridiculous! This is a classical case of making something fit a case. Yours a so called pro-life one. The protaganist was clearly so anti-life, unless the circumstances are right. Yay, contraception and yay abortion, if necessary. The fact that the protagonist was reluctanct to have children many years after her ordeal shows we really ought to think more before reproducing.  

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