We are all familiar with abortion in the news. But how many of us can name a movie, TV show, or book that talks about abortion? Despite being a very common medical procedure (73 million per year), abortion is not depicted in the popular media as often. And when it is, it is met with criticism and attacks.
In this blog post, we will share movies, TV shows, and books that deal with this important topic – to appreciate their efforts and give you something to binge on in the next few days. Bring on the popcorn!
This article might contain some light spoilers.
Movies That Talk About Abortion
Obvious Child is a 2014 romantic comedy that centers around Donna Stern, a stand-up comedian living in New York City who finds out that she’s pregnant after a one-night stand. Donna is shocked and unsure of what to do, but she ultimately decides to have an abortion. The film is lauded for its frank and realistic portrayal of abortion, as well as its use of humor to explore a heavy topic. Jenny Slate gives a standout performance as Donna, and her journey is both touching and relatable.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a 2020 drama about two teenage girls, Autumn and Skylar, who travel from rural Pennsylvania to New York City for Autumn’s abortion. The film is a powerful exploration of the obstacles that women face when seeking reproductive health care, particularly in areas with limited access to abortion services. The title of the movie comes from the questions that Autumn is asked during her doctor’s appointment, and the emotional impact of that scene is unforgettable. Playing Autumn, Sidney Flanigan gives a stunning performance, and her quiet strength in the face of adversity is a testament to the resilience of women.
Dirty Dancing is a classic film from 1987 that tells the story of Frances “Baby” Houseman, a privileged teenager who falls in love with a dance instructor named Johnny Castle while on vacation with her family. The film takes place in the 1960s, and one of the major plot points is a secret abortion that takes place. Penny, one of the dancers at the resort where Baby is staying, becomes pregnant and needs to have an abortion, but the procedure is illegal (as was the case in the USA back then). Baby offers to help Penny by borrowing money from her father and standing in for her during a performance. The scene that describes the abortion is tense and emotional and highlights the dangerous and often deadly consequences of restricting access to safe and legal abortion services. While Dirty Dancing is primarily known as a romantic drama, its portrayal of abortion is an important and memorable aspect of the story.
TV Shows That Talk About Abortion
Scandal is a show that follows Olivia Pope, a Washington D.C. crisis manager, who finds herself pregnant as a result of her relationship with the President. In Episode 9 of Season 5, Olivia makes the decision to have an abortion. The scene shows Olivia in an abortion clinic’s operating room with a doctor using a suction machine to terminate what could likely be a first-trimester pregnancy. As a woman in a position of power, who has the resources to take on the responsibilities of being a parent, Olivia chooses to have an abortion because she does not want to be a mother – a different portrayal of choice than what we usually see in the media.
Grey’s Anatomy is a medical drama that has tackled numerous important topics over its long run, including abortion. In Episode 8 of Season 19, the issue of abortion was directly addressed as Dr. Jules Millin treats Sierra, a pregnant mother of two who was experiencing spotting. When Sierra is told that her pregnancy is safe, she doesn’t appear to be happy and later admits that she was relieved at the possibility of a miscarriage because she struggled with postpartum depression after her previous pregnancies. Sierra ultimately requests an abortion, and the doctors at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital guide her through the procedure and aftercare while providing comfort and support.
Jane the Virgin is a comedy-drama series that explores the life of a young woman, Jane, who becomes pregnant after being accidentally inseminated during a routine check-up. In one of the story arcs, Jane’s mother, Xiomara, discovers that she is pregnant after a one-night stand. Xiomara has been vocal about not having more children, and she decides to terminate the pregnancy. What some reviews praised about the show is its matter-of-fact depiction of abortion, where Xiomara has no confusion about her decision and goes ahead with it without any doubt. The show’s creator, Jennie Snyder Urman, explained that Xiomara is clear about her decision and that most abortions are like that.
Books That Talk About Abortion
The Cider House Rules, by John Irving, is a novel that explores the complexities of abortion and the people involved in the procedure. Set in the 1940s, the story follows an orphan named Homer Wells who grows up in a Maine orphanage. As an adult, Homer becomes an assistant to the doctor who performs abortions at the orphanage. Throughout the novel, Irving explores the ethical and moral dilemmas surrounding abortion, as well as the societal and cultural attitudes toward the procedure. The novel ultimately asks the reader to consider whether it is okay to deny people the right to make choices about their own bodies.
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood, now a famous TV series, is a dystopian novel that shows the consequences of taking away women’s reproductive rights. The story takes place in a future society where a religious fundamentalist government has taken over and stripped women of their rights. The novel depicts a society in which women are only valued for their ability to bear children and their reproductive rights are completely controlled by men. The book has become a feminist classic and a cautionary tale about the dangers of denying women autonomy over their own bodies.
A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself by Peter Ho Davies is a unique novel about fatherhood, pregnancy, and abortion told from the perspective of a man. The story follows a writer whose wife has an abortion because prenatal tests suggest that something could be wrong with the pregnancy. The couple later has a child, and the novel beautifully narrates the heavy toll and immense rewards of bringing up a child. As the couple grapples with their life as parents, the man reflects on his own experiences with fatherhood, including his relationship with his own father. The novel explores the complexities of male perspectives on pregnancy and abortion, as well as the emotional toll that such decisions can sometimes have on individuals and families.
How many of these movies, TV shows, and books have you seen or read? What do you think about them? Is there other visual content or literature that you would like to recommend? Share your thoughts on our social media platforms. And if you have any questions about the abortion procedure itself, you can read all about it on the safe2choose website. safe2choose is a social organization that works on ensuring access to safe abortion all over the world. Through its online counseling and informational website, safe2choose supports people who want an abortion and refers them to trusted, trained, and pro-choice health-care providers, if needed.