Primetime Propaganda

Written By: Sarah Waites
Life Dynamics Staff

There is a natural connection between
politics and culture and no one knows this
better than the abortion lobby.

They understand that the perception, and the stigma, of abortion affects not just its legality, but everything down to who is willing to walk through an abortion clinic’s front door. That is why the pro-choice side has set out to normalize abortion by using carefully crafted storylines on popular television shows.

According to the Abortion Onscreen Report: 2019 by the University of California, San Francisco, in 2019 there were “…forty-three abortion discussions and disclosures on television, more than we’ve ever observed in a single year.”

Abortion storylines have been featured in popular shows such as Friday Night Lights, Crazy Ex- Girlfriend, Jane The Virgin, Bull, Grey’s Anatomy, and Scandal. Original series produced by the streaming services Netflix and Hulu both have shows which feature positive abortion storylines and portrayals. And HBO will soon be releasing an original film called UnPregnant. It’s a comedy about a teenager who finds out she is pregnant and wants to dodge her state’s parental notification law. So she sets out on a road trip with her misfit best friend to an abortion clinic over 900 miles away.

Contrary to what writers and show creators may say,
television shows positively portraying abortion are not
about creating powerful and diverse storylines.

They’re about improving the American public’s perception of abortion by placing it in settings that are less charged and confrontational. In an article for MTV news about abortion’s portrayal on television, Stephanie Herold, a researcher for the above mentioned Abortion Onscreen Report told MTV news, “Studying TV and culture in particular is really important because of how culture representations affect real people’s attitudes about abortion…Pop culture, particularly TV, has power that legislators don’t have to meet people where they are in their homes and tell all these compassionate, tender stories about abortion, about the people who have abortions, about abortion providers — and also showcase how to support someone who’s had an abortion.”

And a cursory scan of television shows spewing pro-choice rhetoric and positive abortion portrayals reveals that the abortion industry’s target is teens.

The abortion lobby knows just how
important these portrayals are.

It’s one of the reasons that Planned Parenthood has their Media Excellence Awards, that recognizes “…exceptional contributions by the media and arts and entertainment industries that enhance the public’s understanding of reproductive rights and sexual health issues, including abortion…” In fact, ABC received this award in 2011 for its abortion storyline on Friday Night Lights. And in 2017, Planned Parenthood awarded Grey’s Anatomy & Scandal Creator/Writer, Shonda Rhimes, the Champion of Change Award for “…revolutionizing the way women and issues of reproductive health — including safe, legal abortion — are portrayed on television.”

For far too long, the conservative side has ignored the impact that culture plays on politics, and what is currently playing out in our streets is proof of what happens as a result. The abortion lobby knows that the future of legalized abortion is fragile – it’s time for us to catch up.


This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter, Pro-Life Voice. To read other articles published exclusively in the newsletter, sign up now. Subscribers have the option to receive the newsletter in print via the mail, or a PDF version via email.

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