2019 Was a Terrible Year for Abortion Rights. TV Did Better – Kind Of
Hollywood has a long way to go in terms of depicting women of color and mothers getting abortions
By EJ Dickson
Dec 20, 2019
2019 was a mixed bag when it comes to reproductive rights. While the year saw draconian abortion legislation introduced in states like Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio, the nationwide backlash arguably lent greater momentum to the abortion rights movement, catapulting it to the center of cultural conversation.
As a result, the once-taboo topic of abortion has become increasingly commonplace in popular culture, per an annual Abortion Onscreen Report released by ANSIRH (Advancing New Standards In Reproductive Health). Released yesterday, the report found a record number of TV shows in 2019 featured a discussion of or plot-line centering on abortion, thanks to shows like The Bold Type, Shrill, Orange Is the New Black, and Happy.
Planned Parenthood Goes to Hollywood
The group is winning in L.A., even as it’s losing in D.C. Can entertainment ultimately make a difference in the abortion wars?
Story by Nora Caplan-Bricker
September 23, 2019
It’s 10 a.m. on a Tuesday at Planned Parenthood’s New York headquarters, and I’m watching TV. Specifically, I’m watching a series of scenes clipped from movies and TV shows, all of which have two things in common: The woman beside me, Caren Spruch, had a hand in them, and each one features an abortion.
Spruch and I began our viewing session with her most recent such project, the Hulu series “Shrill.” Now, seated at a table in a white-walled conference room, we’re watching the first movie she worked on, 2014’s “Obvious Child.” Spruch is petite and animated, with a long face and dark bangs, like a more pixie-ish Anjelica Huston. She calls “Obvious Child” — a romantic comedy about an unemployed 20-something who finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand — “the one that changed the world,” setting a new standard for stories about abortion. She has seen it, she estimates, more than 25 times.
Breaking the Silence Around Abortion
August 12, 2019
American discourse has changed radically in the past decade around a number of social issues.
And yet, there is one topic that, while high on the list of divisive issues that get people riled up, remains shrouded in shame and secrecy. When it comes to reproductive rights, and specifically abortion, conversations, when they happen, typically exist on a theoretical plane. The reasons women (and other people capable of getting pregnant) don't disclose their abortions are in many ways obvious: it's a highly personal medical decision loaded with cultural baggage, and sharing that you had one can lead to dire consequences. It's relatively rare for women to tell even each other about their abortions. This of course isn't true for everyone — some people are more open than others. But the social stigma remains, and whether in deeply conservative communities or supposedly woke circles, talking about your abortion is taboo.
TV Has Shifted Our Cultural Perception of Who Has Abortions
by Rachel Charlene Lewis
Published on July 2, 2019
Television has often afforded abortion a nuance that politicians miss, allowing viewers to better understand the procedure and empathize with characters who terminate their pregnancies. In 2015, the Advancing New Standards In Reproductive Health (ANSIRH)’s Abortion Onscreen Project found 78 storylines on American TV between 2005 and 2014 where a character considered having an abortion. (Fifty-one percent of those characters decided to have an abortion.) While an increase in abortion storylines might feel like a positive shift, ANSIRH also found that 87 percent of onscreen characters who get abortions were white compared to 36 percent in real life.
“The majority of people who have abortions are people of color,” Renee Bracey Sherman, founder of We Testify, a National Network of Abortion Funds’ program for people who’ve had abortions, tells Bitch. “So when television and film aren’t representing us, not only is it inaccurate, but it’s also showing us that our stories don’t matter and aren’t the norm.”
Mothers who have abortions: what to do with TV’s third rail?
Most women who terminate a pregnancy are already mothers – but we rarely see that on screen. Australian comedy The Letdown is the latest show to tackle the taboo
Lauren Carroll Harris
Tue 11 Jun 2019
“We got a beautiful email from a viewer last week,” says Sarah Scheller, co-creator of the ABC’s The Letdown. “It said, ‘That was my scenario. I can’t believe I just saw it on screen.’”
Women who have abortions are only just now beginning to see themselves depicted on screens, but for a certain subgroup – women who are already mothers when they decide to terminate – the taboo is stronger than ever.
The unsentimental abortion scene in ‘Shrill’ isn’t groundbreaking. Here’s why that’s a big deal.
By Bethonie Butler
March 19, 2019
About 20 minutes into the pilot episode of Hulu’s “Shrill,” the millennial writer at the center of the story has an abortion.
Annie, played by Aidy Bryant of “Saturday Night Live” fame, doesn’t dwell on her decision to terminate her pregnancy. And after a roughly two-minute scene that shows Annie undergoing the procedure with her best friend at her side for support, she barely mentions it again — save for a few passing references and one awkward encounter with her boyfriend’s mother that’s played for laughs.
The BBC should treat abortion as a healthcare procedure, not just a plot point for Call the Midwife
The BBC, rightly, has links on its website to advice from organisations like Stonewall, Mind and Beat. So why did it refuse to link to abortion advice?
15 February 2019
By Glosswitch, BBC
As the saying goes, you can’t be a little bit pregnant: you’re either gestating a new life at enormous cost and potential risk to your physical and mental wellbeing, or you’re not. As far as this experience goes, there is no middle ground.
Similarly, you’re either in favour of women being forced to remain pregnant against their will, or you’re not. The alternative to safe, legal abortion is not the absence of abortion; it’s the torture of compulsory gestation, or it’s illegal, unsafe abortion. There is no neutral option, no world in which unwanted pregnancies must neither continue nor end.
Call The Midwife to focus on abortion after drama faced criticism over pre-watershed termination
12 January 2019
The new series of Call The Midwife will focus on abortion after it sparked complaints by showing an illegal termination before the watershed.
Executive producer Dame Pippa Harris revealed abortion will be a central theme throughout the eighth installment of the period drama, which follows a group of nurses in London's East End, when it returns to BBC One on Sunday.
The last taboo – is TV finally ready to discuss abortion?
Its depiction on the small screen has historically been problematic but shows like Scandal, Girls and Jane The Virgin indicate that could be changing
by Ellen E Jones
Monday 13 March 2017
That dreaded blue line on the little plastic stick. A pair of jeans that no longer zips up. Retching into the nearest bin at work. Unplanned pregnancy has been fertile fodder for TV drama, yet always within curiously coy limits. But now that there’s a new administration in the US that has made dismantling reproductive rights a first-week-in-office priority, is TV finally ready to talk abortion?
Shows such as Scandal, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Girls have already featured major storylines in which unhappily up-the-duff women explore all their options, but this spring a new 10-part series promises to be TV’s most prescient depiction of women’s reproductive rights to date.
Continued at source: The Guardian:
Dec 20, 2016, Rewire
by Gretchen Sisson
The end of 2016 marks the close of a century since the first silent film in the United States addressed abortion. In these past 100 years, film, television, and our popular culture have addressed abortion in evolving ways: from the pre-code films of the 1920s, to the exploitation films of the 1940s, to television plotlines in support of legal abortion in the 1960s, to the alternately stigmatizing and stigma-busting portrayals of the 1990s and early 21st century. The incorporation of abortion into onscreen storylines has been done for shock value, for sex educational purposes, for humor, for drama, and for horror. This presentation is not an exhaustive list of abortion stories in U.S. film and television (there are over 200 of them!), but it is meant to illustrate some of the notable examples, groundbreaking firsts, and trends that have emerged over time.
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