Shift in frequency and tone of TV abortions

10 Aug 2019

A study carried out by a Gretchen Sisson, a sociologist at the University of California, shows that in recent years, the number of abortions being depicted or discussed on television has risen sharply. Between 1962 and 2016 the subject of abortion was touched on 222 times. Twenty-one TV characters have discussed abortion so far this year, compared to eighteen in the whole of 2018.

There has not only been a change in the frequency but also the tone; there is a distinct difference today from how abortion has typically been depicted in the last 40 years. Ms Sisson writes: “You’re definitely seeing more of the matter-of-fact ‘I am pregnant, I don’t want to be, I’m going to have an abortion. And it’s gone way up in 2019.” According to the New York Times, in the past, TV characters "usually agonized about what to do or, if the show was set in the past, weighed back-alley procedures. Babies were often carried to term or lost to miscarriage. Terminations led to psychological or physical problems or death.” However, in recent years, although TV characters do often deliberate about the abortion decision, they tend to be “decisive and forthright” about having the procedure and the storyline moves quickly on. (As quoted in the New York Times)