Posts Tagged ‘abortion’
(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’)
It’s sad that I didn’t know about the happenings in Romania under Ceausescu’s rule until I read this book: The Politics of Duplicity: Controlling Reproduction in Ceausescu’s Romania by Gail Kligman. I was shocked when I was reading this book to hear about what these women had to go through on a daily basis.
So here’s the deal: Ceausescu led one of the most repressive anti-abortion regimes. Women were forced to get really back-alley abortions that were more often than not unsafe. Because a large portion of the population was poor, they could not afford to have a real doctor perform their abortion — that was a privilege that was only for the uber-rich. So if a woman got an abortion that went wrong and had to go to the hospital, she would then be arrested for getting an abortion and was not fully treated for the complications invovled with that abortion. As a result of unsafe abortions, the maternal mortality rate was very high.
This anti-abortion legislation also led to over-population and a large orphanage population. But the state did not adequately take care of the orphanages. Children were malnourished and had never really experienced human contact.
From the back cover:
The political hypocrisy and personal horrors of one of hte most repressive anti-abortion regimes in history came to the world’s attention soon after the fall of Romanian dictator Nicholae Ceausescu. Photographs of orphans with vacant eyes and wasted bodies circled the globe, as did alarming maternal mortality statistics and heart-beating details of an infant AIDS epidemic. Gail Kligman’s chilling ethnography – of the state of of the politics of reproduction – is the first in-depth examination of this extreme case of political intervention into intimate aspects of everyday life. Her analysis explores the institutionalization of duplicity and complicity as social practices that contributed to the state’s perpetuation and ultimate demise.
This powerful study is based on moving interviews with women and physicians a well as on documentary and archival material. Besides discussing the social implications and human costs of restrictive reproductive legislation, Kligman examies how reproductive issues become embedded in national and international agendas. She concludes with lessons the world can learn from Romania’s tragic experience.
What I loved about this book was that it was not only a historical account of the horrors of Ceausescu’s Romania, but Kligman also looks at the broader political implications and “examines how reproductive issues become embedded in national and international agendas.”
While this book documents a truly chilling story, it is definitely worth a read. It is important to look at where we have been so as to not repeat these scary events again. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reproductive rights and how access to women’s bodies affects national and international politics.