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.”