Media Blog

Hollywood and Abortion

The NY Times laments the lack of abortions in Hollywood films.  An excerpt:

But in another way, both movies go out of their way to sidestep real life. Nearly two-thirds of unwanted pregnancies end in abortion, data from federal surveys shows. Yet Jenna in “Waitress” is more likely to ponder selling the baby than to consider having the procedure. And Alison, who has just been promoted to her dream job as an on-camera television personality and asked to lose 20 pounds, is torn over whether to keep the man, not the baby.
The possibility of not having the baby is never discussed by either woman despite her circumstances. The word “abortion” is never uttered.
Though conservatives regularly accuse Hollywood of being overly liberal on social issues, abortion rarely comes up in film. Real-life women struggling with unwanted pregnancies might consider an abortion, have intense discussions with partners and friends about it and, in most cases, go through with it. But historically and to this day in television and film — historians, writers and those in the movie industry say — a character in such straits usually conveniently miscarries or decides to keep the baby.
“It’s one of those topics that would alienate a portion of the audience no matter what you do,” Sarah Brown, executive director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, said of Hollywood’s reluctance to tackle abortion more realistically.
Perhaps directors of feel-good movies don’t want to risk portraying their heroines as unsympathetic characters.
Jonathan Kuntz, an American film history professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that for the entertainment industry, “It’s a no-win situation.”
“It’s kind of a tricky topic,” he said. “It’s something that’s going to turn off people on both sides unless you do it just right. It’s no surprise Hollywood avoids it.”

This abortion movie is too scary.  This abortion movie is too happy.  But this abortion movie is “just right.”

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