Why Abortion Never Works Onscreen Even Though Hollywood Desperately Wants It To

Why Abortion Never Works Onscreen Even Though Hollywood Desperately Wants It To

Storylines in everything from 'Veep' to 'Juno' attempt to deal with abortion, but the latest Hollywide trend is trying to make it funny and casual.
Ellie Bufkin
By

Abortion has recently become a tremendously popular topic in movies and television. Movies like “Gosnell” and “Unplanned” attempt to show the ugly reality of the abortion industry, highlighting the dangers to the mothers, the unscrupulous practices of the clinics, and—most importantly—exposing the reality that an abortion extinguishes a human life.

These movies absolutely have an axe to grind, and their impact is undeniable. Meanwhile, much of Hollywood keeps trying to use abortion as something light and funny.

Outside of films that are specifically exposing the abortion industry, however, abortion has also found its way into the narratives of movies and shows that use it as entertainment and even fodder for jokes. Sitcoms like “Shrill,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” and “GLOW” all featured characters choosing to get an abortion in the wake of an unplanned pregnancy.

In these instances, the shows’ mission is quite clear: to advance the idea that ending the life of an unborn child is a casual medical procedure. Why shouldn’t we joke about it?

Abortion Portrayed as No Big Deal

According to the shows’ narratives, the women who choose to abort are modern, strong feminists. Their babies are disposable because—to them—they are just inconvenient clumps of cells that can so easily be flushed away in the name of empowerment.

Although previously considered taboo, abortion did appear as a dark plot point in many films and shows over the years. Famously, in “Dirty Dancing,” a character has an illegal abortion at a dirty clinic and becomes infected. The whole affair is ugly, deeply emotional, and certainly no means to add levity or romance to the situation.

In “High Fidelity,” a character chooses to have an abortion in an act of desperation after the failure of her relationship. Later in the movie, she bursts into tears when she is casually asked by her ex-boyfriend if she ever wanted to have children. There was nothing casual about these storylines.

It’s the recent call to celebrate abortion as a woke rite of passage from movements like #ShoutYourAbortion that has changed the entertainment landscape. Abortion on film used to be quite uncomfortable; it was meant to be. It was a way to make the audience feel intense loss with the characters. It set a tone of tragedy and peril.

However, in last week’s episode of the HBO comedy “Veep,” a character chooses to have an abortion after deciding the baby’s father was too immature to date. Taking a cue from other recent comedy arcs, the show treated the entire arc like one big punch line. The character, Amy, even refers to her unborn child as a “baby” before she ultimately chooses to end his or her life.

“Veep” is known for its quick-witted, sharp-tongued writing and has consistently claimed that no subject is off limits for jokes. Staying true to their word, the trip to the abortion clinic included a confrontation with pro-life protestors, jokes about not wanting to see an ultrasound, and telling someone on the phone that her schedule was just “scraped clean.”

In reality, most fans of Amy and her unborn child’s father, Dan, were hoping for a baby. Progressive filmmakers, showrunners, and writers may have set their sights on pushing casual abortion as a fan-favored plot choice, but they may be in store for a cold reality. Most fans want a happy ending; they want to see the baby.

Hollywood’s New Favorite Plot Twist

Being pro-abortion is not new for Hollywood. Replacing a bouncing happy baby with a joke-filled trip to the abortion clinic is.

Even in a 2017 episode of the HBO show “Girls,” created by noted abortion enthusiast Lena Dunham, the main character becomes unexpectedly pregnant and ultimately decides against an abortion. Perhaps this creative choice was meant to show how her character developed and matured over the series run, but more likely, it was written this way because who wants to see a baby die on TV?

“Girls” had a smaller story in an earlier season when a lesser character has a very casual abortion, barely mentioning it to her boyfriend after she returns from the procedure. The boyfriend has an emotional outburst in a state of complete disbelief, and is never able to look at her the same way. They break up soon after. This isn’t the epilogue to abortion that abortion-is-power feminists would have you believe.

Pro-abortion people want everyone to think abortion is nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to feel sad about. The fact is that abortion is an awful, ugly tragedy in any situation, no matter if you believe it should be legal or not.

“Awful, ugly, and tragic” aren’t exactly the adjectives that match a happy conclusion. There is also no adorable, crying baby to bring all the characters together at the end of the story. There are many examples of otherwise very liberal shows and movies choosing the pro-life plot, simply because killing babies does not make a good story.

In “Sex and the City,” Miranda becomes pregnant with no intention of keeping her baby, and viewers were led to believe that she has gone through with the abortion until the very end of the episode. In a classic tear-jerking moment, we find out that she is keeping the baby. Another character goes through the episode reliving her long-ago abortion, wondering what life would be like with her child, reflecting on a choice she cannot unmake. For a show that was all about glamorizing carefree sex, they had a decidedly unglamorous take on abortion, handled with nuance.

In “Juno,” a charming teen becomes pregnant while still attending high school, and even plans to have an abortion. However, she finds the abortion clinic so offputting, and is partially persuaded by a protester outside, that she decides to continue her pregnancy and explore adoption. Similarly, “Knocked Up” finds the humor in an unplanned pregnancy, even showing how the developing baby starts to change and soften the parents before she is even born.

The fact is that the reality of abortion simply does not match the pro-abortion belief that it is easy and casual. Creating a story where a fictional character has no feelings about her abortion does not reflect reality. Writing snarky jokes does nothing to conceal the image of a character in stirrups at an abortion clinic having a tiny life sucked out of her. No matter how much fans believe that abortion should be legal, they’ll never root for a character to not have the baby.

Ellie Bufkin is the co-host of the movie podcast "Flix It" and a senior contributor to The Federalist. Ellie worked in the wine industry as a journalist and sommelier. You can follow her on Twitter @ellie_bufkin and on Instagram @exsommellie.

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