Hollywood’s Love Affair With Unplanned Pregnancy

Really? Always so happy?

Really? Always so happy?

How many movies or TV shows can you name where a main character unexpectedly gets pregnant and decides to heroically keep her child? I’ve tried to think of this recently and I came up with a pretty substantial list: Sex and the City, The Gilmore Girls, The Secret Life of an American Teenager, 16 and Pregnant, How to Deal (yes, my favorite Mandy Moore movie), Saved!Β (another Mandy Moore classic), Juno, the list goes on and on.

How many movies or TV shows can you think of that cover abortion? I couldn’t think of any. Granted, I’m not a big TV watcher so perhaps I’m missing something here. As I was playing around with the topic for this blog, I kept getting slammed in the face with memories of characters running out of abortion clinics: the main character in Sarah’s Key couldn’t go through with it. Jessa from Girls doesn’t show up for her appointment (and ends up not being pregnant anyway). Juno gets talked out of an abortion because her fetus has fingernails. Even strong, sensible Miranda from Sex and the City has a gut-check moment with Carrie in the waiting room and walks out. (In one of my favorite scenes from the show, Miranda consults Carrie who had had an abortion almost 20 years earlier and asks Carrie how long it took her until she felt back to normal. Carrie smiles a sad smile and says, any day now, while crossing her fingers).

What message is this sending women? We elect a president who supports our right to choose. We ask hard questions of our senators, our candidates, our partners, and our doctors and urge them to not make Roe v. Wade a memory. We deserve the right to choose. And yet, we never talk about the choice.

Young women are disturbingly influenced by pop culture, by movies, TV shows and celebrities. And everywhere we turn, we’re congratulating a woman who decides to have a child before she might be ready for it. Because she’ll look cute in maternity clothes. Because E! will option the rights for a new reality show. Because she decides that she’s going to be the brave hero. If this is the brave hero, though, what does this make the woman who goes into the abortion clinic and makes perhaps the hardest decision of her life? Are they the opposite of brave? Or aren’t they just as brave, in a different way, but brave nonetheless?

This is not me saying every woman who decides to keep her unplanned child should be looked down on in any way. These women ARE heroes. Nor am I saying that every woman who decides to terminate does so for the right reason. We’ve all heard about the friend of a friend who had 3 abortions in a year, who doesn’t like condoms so uses abortion as a form of birth control. What I am saying is this: we fight so loud and stand so strong for a right we seem ashamed to talk about.

I’ve never had an abortion myself. But I know that had I gotten pregnant when I was in high school or college or right out of college or hell, even now, I would have terminated. And I would have felt alone and scared and ashamed because there is no one out there who says this is okay, I went through it, too. We say it’s okay if you’ve been raped. We say it’s okay if your life is in danger carrying the child to term. We say abortion is okay as long as you follow the rules. And I think it’s bullshit.

I wish one celebrity would come out and talk about their abortion. I wish there was a movie with some awkward unknown yet-to-be-star who has an abortion and is supported and goes on to be successful and happy and has a family when she decides to. I wish they gave out stickers at the clinic that say I Got an Abortion just like at the voting booth. Because that’s what I think it will take to change the way we think about this topic and the way we’re raising our daughters to feel about a choice we hope they’re never faced with, but just might have to make.

Note: I’m not trying to make any fans here. These are just my opinions. I encourage you to leave yours in the comments. And if this speaks to you personally, I really encourage you to leave your story.

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Posted on January 29, 2013, in ponderings, rants and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I always think the same thing!! There are SO many angles you can look at with a character considering an abortion, but in TV/movie land there’s only one: “I can’t go through with this awful procedure so I’m doing the right thing and carrying this fetus to term!” At least Saved! had the decency to show Mary being ostracized by all her friends and authority figures at school – most don’t even show that, though. It’s so clearly the “right” decision to carry to term. It drives me nuts.

  2. I feel this is one of the best points on a subject that most people are afraid to talk about. Some people don’t understand that a baby brought into this world under the wrong circumstances can suffer for a parents selfish choice. Great article very well written and a refreshing honest opinon.

  3. Dirty dancing shows an abortion…although it went horribly wrong and she almost died.

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