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The Abortion Episode.

(37 Posts)
Miffer Mon 19-Sep-16 08:01:32

That's how it's known isn't it? The episode of the show that deals with abortion. I watched the best example of this I have seen last night and tt made me think of other episodes. The terrible Sex and the City episode, the 'groundbreaking' Grey's Anatomy example, the tired trope of booking the abortion only for the 'heartwarming' reveal that she changed her mind.

The one I watched last night was Bojack Horseman. There was so much awesome in the episode I don't know where to start. Luckily somebody did it for me

I think my favourite thing about this was the fact that the story wasn't about the characters abortion. Indeed there was no story there. She wanted one, her husband supported her, she had it, she didn't regret it. There was no big exploration of why she wanted one, no weighing up the pros and cons, no doubt, no sad husband bemoaning the death of his 'baby;. It was simply her choice and this was how it was presented to us.

So what says you feminist MNers? What are your favourite examples of this? Or do you think there are none? Is the concept of "The Abortion Episode" problematic?

Miffer Mon 19-Sep-16 08:10:32

Another article on this episode I just found.

This one things the episode was bad and manages to highlight just how good it is by analysing all the bad in it. The main criticism being (of course) SHE DIDN'T CARE ENOUGH.

ImCatbug Mon 19-Sep-16 08:12:43

That episode of BoJack Horseman is great. I thought the same when I first watched it, 'oh not this trope again', but when it got to the end of the episode and she just had it done and left it at that I was pleasantly surprised.
It's refreshing to have a show be so matter-of-fact about things like that. While I do think it's problematic to use the subject of abortion as a plot device in the way it is usually used (the 'heartwarming breakthrough'), if it is going to be used then it needs to be more like that.

VikingVolva Mon 19-Sep-16 08:35:05

Episode of what show that is concerned with abortion?

The shows you do name-check are made in US, and so reflect a considerably different society.

In UK, the prime time shows which have featured pregnancy choices, including abortion, are the soaps. And I don't think it seems particularly to stand out as an 'abortion episode' but rather just another storyline. Sometimes a bit sensational, sometimes not.

MaxineRockatansky Mon 19-Sep-16 09:00:05

Haven't watched Bojack but just want to recommend a film that's on Netflix called Obvious Child. Deals with abortion in a refreshingly matter of fact and unapologetic way.

Xenophile Mon 19-Sep-16 09:19:43

Abortion is just a fact of life. TV shows showing it as an agonising and awful decision are just playing into anti-choicer/forced birther tropes around how much women regret choosing abortion, despite all evidence showing the complete opposite.

pepperpot99 Mon 19-Sep-16 09:23:18

Abortion might be 'mater of fact' for some people but for others it is a very painful and problematic issue. It's not clever or enlightened to pretend otherwise.

buckingfrolicks Mon 19-Sep-16 09:34:03

Clever or enlightened? Pepper, I have had an abortion and I felt guilty at how unguilty I felt. For years I thought I Was a bit of a freak person because I found the decision to terminate such an easy one

pepperpot99 Mon 19-Sep-16 09:42:31

Well good for you buckingfrolicks. My point is that it is not like that at all for many other women.

surferjet Mon 19-Sep-16 09:47:10

I had a termination 25 years ago.
I've regretted it ever since.
I'm pro-choice but the guilt never really leaves you. Well it hasn't for me anyway.

Xenophile Mon 19-Sep-16 09:47:41

Pepperpot, I'm not trying to be 'clever or enlightened', merely factual.

I'm also not saying that it's never a painful choice, I am saying, quite factually and without your evident need for hyperbole, that for the vast majority of women, it isn't.

pepperpot99 Mon 19-Sep-16 09:52:08

I think your 'claim' that 'the vast majority' of women have no qualms about abortion is pretty hyperbolic Xenophile I'd like to see your evidence - which in your 9.19.43 post you refer to.

I know several individuals who had abortions and felt really badly affected by it. Please don't dismiss them as people who don't count simply because they don't fit neatly into your world.

ImCatbug Mon 19-Sep-16 09:55:22

It can be painful and awful for some women, but for some it's the opposite. I think the point here is that on tv it is often overlooked that women can have different feelings about it, and it is the pain/guilt that is emphasised almost all of the time. This can then cause more issues and guilt for women who were glad/relieved after an abortion, as they feel like this is how they 'should' feel, and that causes guilt.
A more balanced portrayal is definitely needed.

DollyBarton Mon 19-Sep-16 10:00:13

Yes Pepperpot, and it's a good thing to represent all the different ways in which abortion affects individuals rather than just the Hollywood ending version where the woman changes her mind at the last minute and lives happily ever after and the devastated woman, destroyed by her decision for all of eternity. There is another emotional outcome that is almost never portrayed in the media. And getting snipey with Bucking over her support of an increase in the third portrayal is unnecessary.

Xenophile Mon 19-Sep-16 10:12:07

I'd agree Cat.

Pepper, I haven't dismissed anyone, in fact, I explicitly stated that I am fully aware that it is a painful choice for some. Your anecdata means nothing I'm afraid, but I do feel for those women you know who regret their abortions. I know you're looking for a fight, and I'm sorry, but I am not going to give that to you. I don't live in a neat world, I find it astounding that your assumption is that I might.

Abortion and mental health

Another article

A third that suggests that 95% of women don't regret having an abortion. I'm not sure that that figure dismisses the 5% of women who did, it merely puts it into perspective.

Xenophile Mon 19-Sep-16 10:15:38

And I'm not sure that my statement that women tend not to regret their choice of having an abortion equates to them having no qualms about it. That's not the same thing at all. Still, again, I am sorry your friends regret their abortions Pepperpot, I hope they are able to access the excellent help that's available for women in their position.

RebelRogue Mon 19-Sep-16 10:34:07

The thing is you cannot put feelings and human reactions in neat little boxes and say women...this are the acceptable ways of how you should feel. So far on tv there are mostly two options keep the baby in the end or wretched with guilt for ever and ever,and dismissing all the other perfectly normal reactions.
The same is valid for regret,some women might regret the actual baby,some might regret the particular circumstances that led to one(being forced,being in a vulnerable situation mentally or financially,illness etc), some might regret the fact that they had to do it(by being pregnant in the first place),some might regret it from reasons i can't even think of and some might not regret it at all.

Most of the women i know that regret it,when asked if they could go back in time they would choose not getting pregnant in the first place,rather than stopping the abortion.

WankingMonkey Mon 19-Sep-16 12:51:55

I had an abortion 12 years ago, at 17 year old. I remember feeling guilty at how not guilty I felt too. I thought there was something wrong with me tbh as everything I' knew' about abortion was that it was a terrible terrible thing but it was right for me at that time. I do still think 'what if' to this day, but I never ever regretted it.

Lorelei76 Mon 19-Sep-16 12:57:30

Lynette was supposed to have an abortion with her 75th or whatever it was. in Desperate Housewives, they decided against it because of what the audience would say

that said, she pretty much is the Awful Warning character - based on a woman Marc Cherry knew of who had killed her children, I think he said...

so I suppose that's something.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Mon 19-Sep-16 13:02:50

I tend to suspect that most women who feel guilty about abortion do so because of the circumstances - ie they didn't really want an abortion but the circumstances they were in meant they couldn't go on with the pregnancy. A significant number of these regretted decisions will have been made in response to the actions of the man: he didn't want a baby (but still went ahead and have the sex), he was completely useless with his existing children, he was a controlling bully, there was DV, there was a background of reprotductive coercion, he left when the woman got pg, etc etc etc.

You really don't see these themes explored in film or tv, do you?

Of course I'm also delighted to see women represented who make free choices and then feel no regret - but as I said above, I reckon most women who regret terminations didn't have wholly free choice.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Mon 19-Sep-16 13:10:24

But it's telly! They have to turn everything into a huge drama. Because real life is as dull as shit really.

Take Eastenders - how many characters have either killed someone or tried to? Ben, Ronnie, Stacey, Martin, Lauren, Dean, Shirley, Mick, Vincent, Claudette all come to mind.

No one ever decides to try for a baby, tries for a few months and then gets pregnant. Either you get pregnant completely accidentally (by someone else's husband) or you are tragically infertile.

Giving birth - have any of them actually made it to hospital?

Why would abortion be treated any differently? Got To Drag Maximum Drama Out.

Miffer Mon 19-Sep-16 18:33:54

*The shows you do name-check are made in US, and so reflect a considerably different society.

In UK, the prime time shows which have featured pregnancy choices, including abortion, are the soaps. And I don't think it seems particularly to stand out as an 'abortion episode' but rather just another storyline. Sometimes a bit sensational, sometimes not.*

Indeed, but I think it's fair to debate even if you aren't from the US. Abortion is much more charged in the states but I still think this is relevant to the UK. In the US it's so politically charged that addressing it is brave, headline grabbing etc. As others have said in the UK it's largely confined to soaps which, obviously, do whatever is most sensational.

That in itself is interesting really. Have any UK shows of the type I mentioned covered this? Even in passing?


I completely agree with you. That's what moved me to make the post. It was so refreshing.

Miffer Mon 19-Sep-16 18:41:52

Most of the women i know that regret it,when asked if they could go back in time they would choose not getting pregnant in the first place,rather than stopping the abortion.

I'm not sure this means anything. Surely every single woman who has an abortion feels like this? Unless you have serious mental health issues nobody is going to think "I'm really glad I had that medical procedure". You are always going to regret what lead to it.

RebelRogue Mon 19-Sep-16 18:45:40

Miffer what i meant is they regret having to go through an abortion,rather than the baby itself,as a (badly expressed i guess)point that even regret takes various forms.

Miffer Mon 19-Sep-16 18:48:43


Sorry Reb the context went a bit over my head. This is what happens when you make a thread, go to work then come back and try and catch up.


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