Fighting with the Sky

The Very Special Abortion Episode

Posted on: January 25, 2010

As many of you know, this past week was the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  I’m a big fan of Roe v. Wade.  And this past week, Private Practice showed that it’s a fan of Roe v. Wade as well.

(Note: you do not have to be familiar with the show and the characters to understand this basic plot and analysis, so don’t shy away from reading if you are not familiar with the show.)

I watch Private Practice.  It’s not a great show, but I’m me and I watch bad television.  But I was pretty surprised when I sat down to watch this past Thursday’s episode, “Best Laid Plans.”

In this episode, Sam and Naomi find out that their fifteen year old daughter, Maya, is pregnant.  The two of them handle the news in very different ways.  First of all, it should be explained that Naomi is very against abortion (as has been discussed previously on the show).  She is a fertility specialist, so she spends all of her time trying to create life, she believes that life begins at conception, so therefore she has some major problems with abortion.  But upon hearing Maya’s news, she takes Maya to Addison, the gynecologist, and demands that she perform an abortion on Maya.  Maya does not seem to be a big fan of this idea.

Maya finally agrees to have the abortion after seeing a woman in labor for 2 days in the office.  So Addison takes her into the procedure room and while explaining the abortion procedure, realizes that Maya doesn’t really seem that sure.  Addison explains her view on abortion but also explains that she cannot help Maya make this decision.  She can and will perform an abortion or she will give her options and see her through the pregnancy, but she cannot make the decision for her.  She tells Maya, “your body, your choice.”

“Your body, your choice” on primetime, network, popular television.  That’s pretty great.  Even though Maya ended up not getting an abortion, I think the conversation about abortion in this episode was really important.  Maya made the decision for herself.  She didn’t let her mom or her Aunt Addie (Addison) make the decision for her.  And the show promoted thinking about abortion as a personal decision for each woman and not a decision to be made by laws or other people.

The show demonstrated an honest discussion about abortion.  And even though the abortion wasn’t performed, I don’t think it was trying to say that abortion is bad, that you shouldn’t get an abortion.  It was promoting making the decision for yourself, whether that decision is to get an abortion or not.  Even though I’m not the biggest fan of Private Practice (yet, I still watch it) and I think that there are a lot of problematic things about the show, I was very impressed with this storyline.

Also see these great posts about the Private Practice episode and other abortion storylines:

Abortion on Television: Whose Choice? (this ain’t livin’)

Roe v. Wade Anniversary: Friday Night Lights and Private Practice Tackle Abortion (Women & Hollywood)

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3 Responses to "The Very Special Abortion Episode"

Me too. I really liked that the show presented Addie as a responsible and ethical care provider. She knew Maya wasn’t cool with what was going on, and she provided Maya with a safe space to ask questions, to talk, and to make her own decision. And it was GREAT to see Addie modeling the conversation as “I will support you and help you no matter what you do, but I am not even going to offer an opinion on what you should do.”

Every now and then, Shonda Rhimes gets it right.

Yes! I adored Addison’s mini-speech, especially when she says something to the effect of “a lot of women worked very hard to give you this choice” – if only she followed it with “…and are continuing to fight for you to KEEP the right to that choice.” I’ll take it, though.

Also – I loved the storyline with Sookie (I know, I know, but as a lover or Gilmore Girls, she will always be Sookie to me) choosing to have a natural birth, and that at the end of the day, the Pacific Wellcare docs respected her decision to do so. Although Addison did seem a little c-section happy for a second there, I’m still happy with a depiction of a woman choosing natural birth.

All around, I think a very positive representation of two facets of women’s health not often covered on primetime, or ever.

I have always liked that Addison and Violet have both talked about having had abortions before. It’s not very common for television shows to have characters that talk matter of factly about it, especially on multiple occasions.

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