Home / General / Women Who Obtain Abortions Don’t Expect To Be Treated Like A Fool No More

Women Who Obtain Abortions Don’t Expect To Be Treated Like A Fool No More


I was impressed with Obvious Child.

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  • sibusisodan

    Well played on the title reference!

    • Mungaf

      I would think “Born at the Right Time” would be the more applicable of Rhythm of the Saints relates titles, but this works.

    • Nor do they expect to sleep through the night, obvs.

  • KadeKo

    That sounds like one barrier being gone after.

    I don’t wish to derail, but only tangent on a very related subject:

    Is there any female character on broadcast or basic cable who takes the birth control pill?

    I don’t mind the normalization of condom use, the “no big deal” thing wherein women who are not trollops actually procure them for recreational sex with spouses or steady partners. And getting to that point represents an achievement of sorts. But it seems to me that in the real world some of these women would be on the pill.

    (I don’t get HBO, Showtime, etc, so no opinion there.)

    • DocAmazing

      In order to indicate that a character is taking oral contraceptives, the writer either has to show her taking her pill (boring), introduce a scene of anxiety when she misses a dose (been done, back in the ’70s), or have her bring up her OCs in conversation (Sorkinesquely stilted). It can be done, but it requires a very light touch.

      • KadeKo


        But condomness (to coin a phrase) requires the same touch.

        The light touch about making, say, recovering alcoholicism part of a characterization has been done pretty decently on some of the hour-long procedural dramas. (I’m thinking of The Closer and a couple of guys on Law & Orderses).

        • DrDick

          I think another missing factor here may be the role of condoms in reducing the spread of STDs rather than as contraception.

          • Winner. My friend, who is also an alum of the ACT UP era of organizing, didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when her young teen’s FB feed began to feature selfies with a condom foil in the teeth, being carefully and correctly opened, by All the Boyz Who Are Doin’ It.

            I encouraged her to look in the mirror & tell herself, You’re welcome.

        • Touch-and-go Bullethead

          A point you are overlooking is that, with condoms, the issue can be addressed within the sex scene. Despite what Rush Limbaugh thinks, women do not wait till just before they have sex to take birth control pills; showing the heroine taking her pill requires another scene.

          In other words, condoms work better for dramatic purposes than other forms of contraception.

          • Aimai

            I’d challenge that point, actually. IIRC scenes showing women taking the pill, or showing that they have a pill case, were frequently used in the old days in Movies or in daytime tv dramas, for dramatic effect. Men opening their wives’ purses or bathroom medicine cabinets and finding the pill, parents discovering that their daughters are sexually active by finding the pill–that was a very common trope.

            • KadeKo

              But hasn’t that stopped, or greatly slowed, like we’re in a new Hays Production Code era of sorts?

              The mentioned episode of Roseanne, for example, was before the millenium, I think.

              (PS Note that I mentioned adults and / or relationships in my original.)

              • Aimai

                I’m arguing that the shock value of showing people using condoms or the pill has slowed but is still used as a plot point where necessary. However, underlying those instances where it is shown (and there are several teen shows–really all of them–in which condom use is shown deliberately as a normal part of teen sex) are all the instances in which it is assumed. Unless the couple in the relationship is represented as infertile you actually should assume, with the audience, that they are using contraception.

                Of course it could be like the older stealth ads in which gay people could see themselves while a straight viewer just saw two same sex buddies out having fun. But I don’t think it can be assumed that conservative viewers presume that all those younger, unmarried couples, are not using contraception. Because if you read the conservative and christian sites they assume that all popular culture reflects the evils of gayness and contraception use even when its not specifically mentioned.

      • Joe

        They show women brushing their teeth often enough. Apparently the image is seen as a standard thing. Figure they can show her popping a pill in her mouth or having the box in the background.

    • sharculese

      Presumably most are? Like Doc Amazing said, that’s a tough thing to integrate organically into a show, unless you do an episode about the pill.

      As to episodes about the pill- best I can think of is the episode of Roseanne where Becky asks to go on the pill. They have a serious, realistic conversation, Roseann is nervous about her daughter taking birth control even though she says she’s not having sex yet, but in the end she decides she trusts her daughter to make smart choices.

      The whole thing is very well done.

      • KadeKo

        Don’t remember it (that was bunch of years ago), but then again, in “Roseanne” they owned a small business that actually went under, so I don’t expect a sugarcoat.

      • Aimai

        I can’t think of any modern show about modern women that *doesn’t* presume they are either taking the pill or using a condom. There are very few shows, other than Big Love or something like that, which don’t valorize a modern, sexually active but no babies life style. The Good Wife had several episodes that explicitly and implicitly assumed that all sexually active adults were using condoms and the heroine kept condoms for her teenaged son to use “when he was ready.” For plot reasons he ends up having sex without the condom and this is shown to be an enormous mistake.

        • Hogan

          Or sponges.

        • Denverite

          Or that the husband in the marriage has been fixed. Some of us do do that!

      • FridayNext

        I am continually amazed how much That 70’s Show flies under the radar on issues like this. The pill was part of several episodes, discussed among many of the female characters for many seasons, and central to the development of the relationship between Donna and Eric (in a fairly realistic way imho, at least in the realm of mainstream sit-coms.)

    • Joe

      The morning after pill was a plot device on two ABC Family shows (The Fosters and Switched At Birth), the former part of the conflict involving the problem getting it without proper id.

      Birth control pills are mentioned on various shows. One example is a joke by Dharma on that show (after being given a fertility idol) that it would have to work thru two types of protection. Seinfeld had that “sponge worthy” plot. I guess technically both don’t cite pills specifically, but I’m sure they specifically arise too.

      • Touch-and-go Bullethead

        Another ABC family show, the sublime “Bunheads,” had an episode in which the four teenaged ballet students, start intensively researching the subject of sex, in preparation for the sex lives they expect to start soon. This culminates in a shot of them looking startled and confused at the very large selection of contraceptives at the drug store; clearly they are asking, how are we supposed to choose from all that?

        This came the week after it was revealed that one of the girls, Boo, was already on the pill. Her mother, we were told, had arranged this as soon as Boo got a regular boy friend. Despite this, Boo remained a virgin (she and her boyfriend had already decided to wait till the night of their senior prom–or, actually, the week before, so that in case the first time proved to be a disappointment, it would not spoil their memories of the prom). This leads to her grumbling, “Why does everyone assume you’re having sex, when they hear you’re on the pill?”

        • I’m still bitter about the cancellation of Bunheads.


          • Scott Lemieux

            The fact that Bunheads got one season and Californication is still on the air is definitive proof that there is no God.

            • low-tech cyclist

              Hell, I’m still pissed that Firefly only got 14 episodes, and that was over a dozen years ago.

            • Chuchundra

              Last season of Californication was actually pretty good, featuring, as it did, the great Tim Minchin as a coked-up, oversexed rock god. And any show that gives work to Stephen Tobolowsky can’t be completely devoid of merit.

              Bunheads is sorely missed, though. On that we can agree.

          • Royko

            I hope Amy Sherman-Palladino gets another show on the air. There aren’t enough shows with good human interaction that don’t involve lawyers, doctors, or criminals.

            (Chasing Life shows some promise.)

          • Ahuitzotl

            you are far from the only one

        • sharculese

          Fun fact: Sherman-Palladino actually wrote “A Bitter Pill to Swallow” the episode of Roseanne I mentioned upthread.

        • Joe

          Show was a bit too precious for me — Lorelei on steroids, but it had something. Liked the BOOK (no relation except both about bunheads) “Bunheads” too.

          Wonder if any show covered HPV.

    • ExpatJK

      I’m pretty sure there was a scene about diaphragms in Sex and the City. Admittedly, HBO show, and off the air, although plenty of reruns on other channels now.

      • sharculese

        Which reminds me, “The Sponge” has been mentioned a couple times in this thread, but not “The Virgin.”

    • Nigel

      In the last episode of Orphan Black, our heroine admits to using contraception. (‘Admits’ because it’s a ugly, depersonalised examination/interrogation scene and everything seems weighted to diminish and humiliate her.)

      • Aimai

        Great scene and very hard to process because of all the conflicting imagery moral issues being displayed in that scene.

      • Gabriel Ratchet

        She admits to having had an abortion as well, not to mention being sexually active at (iirc) 14.

    • Emily68

      I remember an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore show all those years ago, where Ted took his wife/girlfriend’s pills by mistake. I think he said something like he’d retained water for days afterwards.

  • brettvk

    The comments at the review immediately degenerated into anti-abortion declarations by many,many people. Has there been any academic examinations of why such commenters are so personally invested in the speculative lives of speculative fetuses (feti?) in the wombs of women they don’t know and will never meet? So much energy is expended on this on internet comments threads — I hope this siphons off some of the meatspace energy devoted to murdering doctor and clinic receptionists.

    • sharculese

      The Week doesn’t have a very high-caliber commentariat to begin with, plus Disqus has a tendency to bring in angry Bircherite ranters through it’s ‘other articles’ feature.

      And yes. Shouting at people is central to their methodology. The anti-choice movement operates on much the same principles as terrorists.

    • Manny Kant

      God, I absolutely should not have gotten out of the boat for that. So terrible.

    • Scott Lemieux

      There are now 750 comments. I’m guessing a very high percentage are demanding that I condemn a fictional character for her medical procedure, but I don’t intend to find out…

    • KmCO

      ted into anti-abortion declarations by many,many people. Has there been any academic examinations of why such commenters are so personally invested in the speculative lives of speculative fetuses (feti?) in the wombs of women they don’t know and will never meet?

      My (non-academic) speculation is that a great number of people simply take any opportunity they can to puff up their sense of moral superiority over others.

  • Aimai

    Sarah Benicasa at Wonkette has a very good piece on being “counseled” by an anti abortion protestor.

    • ema

      We should hire actors to follow all the justices around and “counsel” them about their ejaculations/prostate/vaginal discharge/skin tags/bladder/hemorrhoids/etc., and praise their decision allow perfect strangers to accost you and discuss your medical decisions in public.

    • 25 years ago when I was younger and dumber, I did clinic escorting because my girlfriend was a counselor at Planned Parenthood so we couldn’t do anything fun on Saturdays anyhow.

      I should probably write about that experience–the tussles with cross-waving zealots, the terrified teens, the 22 year old couples trying to make it through the opposing picket lines with their 3 kids under 6–but it’s just too awful to recall.

    • Tom Servo

      I love the image of her shouting “Not yet!” In response to being called a murderer. Generally it’s best not to engage, but if you’re a quickwitted person like say sharculese on here you can shut down some cowards by throwing it right back in their face.

      • Aimai

        Sharculese, being a genderfraud, could really go to town on someone counseling in front of an abortion clinic.

        While I think its dangerous to confront these people in the MA case I wish I had the nerve to approach the actual elderly plaintiff and insist on “counseling” her and talking to her–maybe a line of women like me so that as she said “no” to each one of us we’d just step aside and let another one take our place.

  • Matt McKeon

    Mad Men had a scene with Peggy getting the pill. And Joan getting an abortion.

    • sharculese

      Mad Men had a scene where Joan chose not to get an abortion. That’s a different and more common thing. In her case I think the decision fit her character, so I’m not too hung up on it, although I definitely think they botched Megan’s miscarriage in the following season.

  • KadeKo

    Hey, thanks for all the bits about birth control on TV in shows I didn’t watch.

    I feel a bit less like we’re living in “revirginized” times now.

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