The week before Thanksgiving, the ABC hit television show Scandal brought the topic of abortion into our living rooms. The main character, Olivia Pope, is seen having an abortion and the president’s ex-wife (now a Senator) filibusters a spending bill to ensure Planned Parenthood funding remains intact.
Given the holiday, I had only read comments and articles posted on Facebook about the show. Finally, last night I sat down and watched it.
As I prayerfully considered it, I think we missed a great opportunity in how we as pro-lifers responded.
While the topic was clearly depicted from a pro-choice bias, the fact that network television pushed it out there provides a great reason to discuss the truth about abortion with family and friends.
Two simple points can be made.
First, the statistics quoted during the filibuster are inaccurate. Specifically, 94% of Planned Parenthood’s (PP) pregnancy services are abortions not the 3% quoted on the show and there are thousands of community health care clinics where women can get “healthcare” services, including mammograms.
Second, in the scenes following the abortion, Olivia’s reaction is pretty realistic. She goes on a rampage in search of alcohol to numb the pain she is feeling, has a huge fight with the President and father of her baby, and ends the relationship. The last scene shows her drinking wine on her new sofa, alone and sure she did the right thing. She looks up at the Christmas tree and smirks, affirming her empowered choice.
The look on her face belies the wall being internally constructed around her heart to protect it from feeling anything ever again. I have seen that look on many faces. Abortion from the woman’s perspective was portrayed very realistically. Wouldn’t it be great if Shondra Rhimes, Scandals producer and writer, would feature Olivia attending an abortion aftercare healing program in a future episode?
These are simple but important points to make when given the opportunity.
A final note can be made about the music that was used during the procedure and into the ending of the show; I believe it was “Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia” and “Silent Night.” I was struck with the symbolism of the music, the implication that the child being aborted was special. While it is easy to get our Christian noses bent out of shape with the outrageousness of the choice of music, I think it was another glimpse into the real heart of every scared pregnant mother that can see the uniqueness of her child while she lays there and lets a doctor kill it.
Ironically, a few days after ABC aired Scandal, CBS also featured the topic of abortion on The Good Wife, but with a more realistic depiction of the bias that both sides experience. This program also offers a great opportunity to discuss the truth about abortion, especially this summer’s baby body part selling scandal.
As a woman who had an abortion, both shows triggered feelings and memories. Maybe that is the most important point to consider when abortion is depicted on television. How does seeing and hearing about abortion impact those who have personally been touched by it? Instead of rants and petitions, let’s pray for the Lord to soften those hearts that have hardened in order to survive the pain and loss associated with abortion.
Written by AFL President Deacon Georgette Forney