Here’s how TV portrayed abortion stories this year

Television has made huge strides in portraying people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community in recent years, but 2018 highlighted the nuanced experiences of women of color, especially black women, through abortion stories. According to the latest report from Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), there were 18 storylines where a character has an abortion, reveals a past abortion, or plans to have an abortion this year. Of these, four of the five characters who got an abortion during the plot were black or biracial women.

Their findings found that the scripts, through more diverse programming through streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, also highlighted how abortions disproportionately affect women of color, especially black women.

As Broadly recently reported, since taking office in 2017, the Trump administration has cut funding to global organizations that provide birth control and abortion referrals, ended the birth control mandate, births, placed anti-abortion extremists in key positions in his administration, and appointed a dozen and a half judges to the federal district court and anti-abortion appeals court.

Dr Gretchen Sisson, a sociologist at ANSIRH who is the lead researcher behind the Abortion On Screen program, believes that previous television depictions of abortion have deepened the stigma of the experience. “Television often shapes our view of the world, and it’s a powerful tool for correcting misinformation about abortion,” Sisson says in an op-ed for InStyle. “I have researched these depictions extensively and often they miss the mark, perpetuating social myths rather than setting the record straight.”

Adding: “My colleagues and I have found that abortion is more dangerous on television than in reality, that women of color and mothers are dramatically underrepresented, that characters tend to have abortions for personal reasons (e.g. because of their professional ambitions), and that barriers to abortion access are either non-existent or easily overcome (clearly this one is not based on real life All of these misrepresentations shape what people know and believe about abortion. They could do better.”

The ANSIRH study reports that several series portrayed black female characters as being supported by friends, partners and ex-partners as they considered whether or not to go ahead with the decision to terminate. bare a child.

An example would be the character of Becky (played by Gabourey Sidibe) on Empire-a case manager who first hides her pregnancy, then plans an abortion. Becky remains firm on her decision not to want children, and at the end of the episode her boyfriend accepts and supports her decision and joins her at Planned Parenthood on the day of the procedure.

There were also depictions of relationships where contraceptive protection failed, such as in Netflix Dear Whites. The character of Coco Connor (Antoinette Robinson) – the popular, ambitious and intelligent star student at the University of Winchester – realizes that she is pregnant, and although shocked and initially unsure of how to handle it, n have no regrets about the sexual experience that led to this point. With the emotional support of her roommate, she decides to revisit motherhood later in life.

Although abortion stories, due to their still taboo stigma, lean towards dramas (SVU Law and Order, Card castle, and Star are more shows that included abortion-centric storylines in their later seasons), comedies also touched on the topic.

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by Netflix Big mouth, a coming-of-age cartoon about young teenagers navigating puberty, had one of their main characters named Andrew to experience a flashback to his mother’s abortion before he was born. In a twist, he was more disturbed by the reality of his parents’ sex life than by his mother’s termination of pregnancy. In HBO Unsafe, the four female leads discuss motherhood and the pregnancy of Tiffany (Amanda Seales). When Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) frivolously assumed that she would have to care for the child if Tiffany were to die unexpectedly, she jokes, “Is that how it works? I hope so because if I had wanted a child, I would have kept the last one.

According to researchers at the Guttmacher Institute, nearly one in four women in the United States (23.7%) will have an abortion before the age of 45. However, abortion rates continue to vary widely by race and ethnicity.

“Given that our 2015 report found that nearly 90% of television characters having abortions were white, the finding that nearly half of this year’s storylines in which a character obtained or disclosed an abortion included women women represents the beginning of a corrective course toward more inclusive storytelling, even as Latin characters remain underrepresented,” Sisson says. “As the majority of American women who have abortions are women of color, it’s critical that their stories be told – alongside working women, mothers, who are white, and any combination thereof – if we are to capture the current reality of abortion in our country.

Correction: In a previous version of this article, the title of Dr. Gretchen Sisson was incorrectly titled as Director of ANSIRH. She is a sociologist at ANSIRH, principal researcher behind the Abortion On Screen program.

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