Spoiler alert: This post discusses the most recent episodes of Scandal and Please Like Me, the new Netflix/Marvel series Jessica Jones and previous season’s plot points of Grey’s Anatomy.
The lead character in a major prime time network drama had an abortion.
Scandal’s white-hatted-gladiator, Olivia Pope, skipped an official White House dinner to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and we didn’t even know that she was pregnant until it happened.
There was no soul searching and no miscarriage to save the character from being a Woman Who Had an Abortion.
All in all, the procedure took up about a minute in a montage set to Silent Night during the hugely popular show’s mid-season finale.
This is a huge step forward in the representation of abortion on screen, and one we probably should have known would come from Shonda Rhimes, Scandal’s showrunner.
Rhimes previously wrote an abortion into the life of Grey’s Anatomy’s Christina Yang, a woman who was determined not to have children.
It has frustrated me for years that abortions are rarely the road taken on television and in film, and to finally see it presented as something a woman does without fanfare is simply excellent.
Lots of women have had abortions. In the United States and Australia almost one in three women will have an abortion. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and half of those unplanned pregnancies end in termination.
And yet, I can count on one hand the number of female characters I’ve seen chose an abortion for non-medical reasons. (Erica on Degrassi High and Christina Yang were it.)
But this week was different.
I saw three abortions in the space of three days, and each one was represented differently, but in a wonderfully real way.
Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) helped save American women’s health organisation Planned Parenthood from potential defunding before securing her abortion.