Current Events,  Entertainment

Abortion on TV article

I read an article in the October 2005 UTNE (I get it out of the library so I’m behind.) about portrayals of abortion on TV called “You Can’t Do That On Television” by Rachel Fudge. It got me thinking.

The premise of the article was that there used to be more discussion on abortion on TV than there is now and that if there is discussion of abortion now it is always tempered by another character bringing up objections. Personally, I thought that was what was meant by “discussion” but in this article it is a very bad thing.

The article does a fine job of the history of abortion on tv but then it starts talking about MURPHY BROWN.

In the end, Brown had the baby, igniting the ire of Vice President Dan Quayle (who viewed the character’s decision not to wed as an assault on American values) and disappointing many feminists. (Italics mine)

What? A criticism of the pro-life view is that they don’t give women a choice. Apparently in this writer’s view there is only one correct choice to be made also. Choosing to have the child was a disappointment.

Later in the article the author bemoans the odds that you will ever see a teenage character wearing

one of Planned Parenthood’s “I had an abortion” baby tees…

(The irony of that word choice hits me every time.) I went searching online to see if there really was such a shirt. There was and it caused a bunch of controversy. Apparently lots of close minded mysoginists thought the shirt was a bad idea. Add me to the close minded mysoginists.

I am as anti-pregnancy as it is possible to get. I feel deep instinctive sorrow whenever I see a pregnant woman. The idea that they might be happy to be pregnant never occurs to me unless they say it and then it comes as a complete shock. I would be devastated if I ever somehow became pregnant. But, if I did I wouldn’t have an abortion. I think the time to make a “choice” is when you decide to have intercourse. If you do then you are signing up for any possible consequences. If you play with fire you might get burned. Is that unfair? Absolutely. Does it put the burden of any unwanted pregnancy on women? Yep. But guess what? Life isn’t fair. That’s biology for you.

I know that I might be giving up any feminist street cred that I may have for saying this. But why is abortion considered the end all and be all of the feminist movement? I know the party line that it all about control of your own body. Fine, exercise control of your own body and don’t get pregnant. After you do it isn’t just your body any more.

Do I have a point? I don’t think so. I don’t have an overall great idea that I’m trying to get across. But this article irked me. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of women’s history books and they seem to say the same things. So and so did a million great things for women but she was anti-abortion so she was cast out as a leper and was never spoken to again.

The idea that to be pro-woman you need to be focused primarily on her reproductive system is I think what is bothering me. It focuses attention on sex alone and ignores everything else. Isn’t that what early feminists were fighting against?


  • Mother

    I feel that this issue should be the focus not only on teenage girls but defintely the teenage boys society tends to focus so much on the girls but it also takes a penis with sperm to make babies and boys should be held accountable for there role in abstience also

  • Nio

    Yes, I agree. Taking responsiblity nonetheless–better late than never.

    I would like to see abortion eradicated, but I don’t think that’s a feasible dream. Not because people will be irresponsible forever, but for reasons that Madcapmum states in this post.

  • Jessica

    Nio, I agree, though I think getting to that point of ending up pregnant when you do not have the resources is a lack of responsibility. So, maybe it would have been better to say people choose to be responsible later than they should.

  • Nio

    People in today’s society just don’t want to take responsibility for their actions.

    I disagree, Jessica. Going through the thought process behind choosing abortion *is* taking responsiblity for one’s in/actions. It’s recognizing that one does not have the emotional, mental, and (often times) financial resources required to care for a child in an appropriate manner. Instead of living in poverty, with a man who is also may not have the emotional mental, and financial position to care for a female companion (I say that because they may choose not to marry) and child is accepting of one’s limitations and responsiblity.

  • Jessica

    I found what you said interesting with the feminist doesn’t necessarily mean pro-choice. I find it annoying when people group political issues to where if you hold the “liberal” view of one, you must hold the “liberal” view of the other, however those terms are defined by the masses.

    I personally don’t like abortion for the same reasons you give. People in today’s society just don’t want to take responsibility for their actions. And people refuse to admit how nature’s purpose for sex is reproduction. And when there is consensual sex that results in pregnancy, “pro-choice” is only for women in our society and not the men who may want to raise the child themselves – who want to be responsible for their actions, more than the women they slept with. I’ve known at least two cases of this.

    However, on the other hand, I find it a valid form of self defense if a pregnancy is threatening the life of the mother. And I understand how traumatizing carrying around a child of a raper could be – carrying a piece of that rapist growing inside you for 9 months. I wouldn’t see it as something to be proud of at all, but instead an unfortunate necessity for some in extreme circumstances like these.

    Unfortunately there is only the labels “Pro-choice” and “Pro-life” and nothing to describe me. I think for “feminist” I’ve found people who complain about the same thing. There are various levels of feminist and various views included under that term. I’ve seen several subheadings of feminism attempted to be created, though am not sure if they ever took off. I stay away from the term just because of all the assumptions people make when they hear it, though I’m sure I could be considered some form of feminist. It’s sad when people assume “all liberals” or “all feminists” when making a statement.

  • SunGrooveTheory

    Very eloquent and thought-provoking, I’m glad I managed to get to your site.
    I agree that abortion cannot possibly be the end-all, be-all of the womens’ rights movement- Have you ever read anything from the NOW webpage? (National Organization of Women) The president of that organization is pro-life I believe, even though the organization is a womens-rights organization.
    Glad I surfed in!! Thank you 🙂

  • Nio

    I haven’t read the article you’re talking about, but I will later this week. I have read some articles by her in the past, and other feminists along her same lines about this particular issue (abortion on TV) and their basic complaint is that it’s not shown as out, loud, and proud (like the t-shirt). Abortion, on TV, is often shown as 1. an inablity to decide 2. at-the-last-minute miscarriage so the writers, producers, and ad don’t have to deal with irrate anti-abortion people 3. Those who do finaly make a choice, choose to have. Abortion on TV has not been done, at least not that I can think of. I want to address a couple of other points you make.

    . Does it put the burden of any unwanted pregnancy on women?

    It puts the burden on both the mother and the father. The father may take off but she can sue him for child support, take him through the courts, and garnish his wages for at least eighteen years. If he took off, or only made coursey attempts at being involved, he’s become a wage slave to a kid he probably didn’t want in the first place. And forced parenthood is slavery, regardless of the gender of the parent.

    There is plenty of birth control for women to go around: pills, shots, barrier methods, abstience. Consistent access to BC is the issue for most. Men need more options for BC besides condoms, pull-out, abstience, or vascetomy. Pills, shots, and barrier methods need to be developed for men. Let them fill their bodies with toxic hormones for a while.

    Like you I am always sad when I see a pregnant womyn. Even if it’s planned, wanted, and prepared for by all individuals I feel parenthood, especially motherhood, is the ultimate waste of a life (hers) and resources (Earths).

What Do You Think?

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