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7 August 2014

UK: Breaking the taboo of abortion on TV and film

Although most Britons are in favour of a woman’s right to choose, abortion has been ignored by film-makers – until now, writes Gillian Orr in the Independent.

Orr writes:

‘A woman in her twenties waits alone in a clinic. A doctor enters with some test results, sits down and informs the woman that she is, as suspected, pregnant. “We can talk about your options,” says the physician, gently. Quick as a flash, the young woman answers. “I would like an abortion, please.” A date is scheduled; both parties are satisfied.

‘This scenario may play out in doctors’ offices around the world every day, but such a scene is a rarity on screen. It does, however, appear in a new film, Obvious Child, which is released in the UK at the end of the month. Set in Brooklyn, the indie rom-com by Gillian Robespierre was promptly held up by American liberals as one of the most realistic depictions of an abortion ever to be seen in cinemas when it was released in the US in June. The far right was less than impressed. Robespierre and the film’s star, the former Saturday Night Live cast member Jenny Slate, were subjected to online abuse from anti-choicers. NBC refused to run ads for the film that included the word “abortion”, and there have been protests outside some cinemas.

‘According to Robespierre, it felt like the mainstream media really ignited the abortion issue and it became a dirty word to say in film. “It became a dirty word even in private,” she tells me. “Our legislation was being restricted daily, and that was really scary. I wanted an honest portrayal of what abortion would look like if the character went through with the procedure, and had access to it, and didn’t feel a great stigma or judgement attached to her decision.”

‘The decision to end an unwanted pregnancy comes easier to some than others. But many women simply choose to go through with the procedure and move on with their lives. Not that this would be immediately obvious to anyone who relied solely on portrayals of abortion in entertainment. That is, if they could even find such depictions in the first place…’

Read the full article here:

Breaking the taboo of abortion on TV and film. By Gillian Orr. Independent, 5 August 2014

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