8 TV Shows That Weren't Afraid to Talk About Abortion

Sep 11, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Olivia Pope from Scandal leaning onto a desk
Image: ABC. Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.

Despite being a safe and legal medical procedure, abortion doesn't make a lot of appearances in popular culture. Frequently, when it does make a cameo, it's in the form of a cautionary tale, where something terrible happens to the woman who decided to get one (see: Penny in Dirty Dancing). 

Thankfully, some of the more recent examples of abortion on TV (and one not-so-recent example) do a better job of showing the nuances of the decision and procedure.

But why does it matter whether we see accurate depictions of abortions on TV? In short, because pop culture has a bigger impact on our views than we think.

"As individuals, we often look to pop culture for ways in which we fit into society," Melissa Grant, chief operating officer of Carafem Health, tells SheKnows. "When pop culture doesn't accurately portray abortion for what it is — a commonly shared experience for 1 in 4 women of reproductive age — it perpetuates abortion stigma. While we frequently see sex as a common thread amongst much of popular culture, with hypersexualized messages being shared in multiple forums daily, accurate portrayals of abortion are still rare." 

Here are a few examples of some of the TV shows that weren't afraid to address abortion.

1 /8: 'Scandal'

Olivia Pope on Scandal on exam table
Image: ABC.

1/8 :'Scandal'

2 /8: 'Maude'

Bea Arthur as Maude
Image: CBS.

2/8 :'Maude'

3 /8: 'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'

Paula Proctor on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Image: The CW.

3/8 :'Crazy Ex-Girlfriend'

4 /8: 'Jane the Virgin'

Xiomara on Jane the Virgin
Image: The CW.

4/8 :'Jane the Virgin'

5 /8: 'GLOW'

Alison Brie on GLOW
Image: Netflix.

5/8 :'GLOW'

6 /8: 'Grey's Anatomy'

Sandra Oh as Cristina Yang on Grey's Anatomy
Image: ABC.

6/8 :'Grey's Anatomy'

7 /8: 'Degrassi High'

Woman looking in mirror which has "Erica Farrell Murders Babies" written on it.
Image: CBC Television.

7/8 :'Degrassi High'

8 /8: 'BoJack Horseman'

Animal protestors outside a Planned Parrothood clinic on Bojack Horseman
Image: Netflix.

8/8 :'BoJack Horseman'