In an episode aired on Thursday night, NBC’s prime-time television show “Parenthood” highlighted the decision of two characters who decide to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.
In the episode, a teenage couple is confronted with an unintended pregnancy and the woman decides to have an abortion. While her male partner is reluctant to terminate the pregnancy, he supports the decision and accompanies her to the appointments at Planned Parenthood. As part of the episode, the couple is featured in a consultation where a representative of Planned Parenthood discusses the various options: parenting, adoption, and abortion.
Chris Weigant, a blogger on Huffington Post, described the episode “In less than two weeks, the Supreme Court decision in the landmark Roe v. Wade case will be 40 years old. Four decades later, the debate over abortion still rages. But it is a debate that is largely silent on the small screen. Even last night, abortion did not really dare to speak its name.” He continues “Forty years [after Roe v. Wade], however, abortion has not made the same leap toward acceptability on television [as same sex marriage, for example]. Even in a show whose plot focuses on abortion, the word itself is not (or only barely, or partially) even heard. Abortion is referenced less often than even birth control (another subject still mostly in television’s taboo closet).”
The first television character to have an abortion was Maude in 1972. Since then few shows have shown a main or supporting characters choosing an abortion as a key element of the plot development of the show. The majority of characters depicted facing an unwanted pregnancy miscarry the pregnancy or choose to raise the child.