Scandal praised for brave on-screen Olivia Pope abortion scene

Viewers were given no insight into the character's thought processes and did not even know she was pregnant

Jess Denham
Friday 20 November 2015 17:43
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Kerry Washington in US drama ‘Scandal’
Kerry Washington in US drama ‘Scandal’

Scandal show runner Shonda Rimes been praised for airing a brave and unexpected abortion scene during Thursday night’s midseason finale.

Viewers had no idea that lead character Olivia Pope, played by Golden Globe nominee Kerry Washington, was pregnant when she was suddenly seen lying on an operating table, legs in stirrups, undergoing the procedure.

The understated scene, scored by “Silent Night”, only lasted a couple of minutes but had a powerful impact on audiences as it made it clear that this had been a deeply personal decision, with Olivia exercising her right to choose.

No insight had been given into Olivia’s thought processes while weighing up her options, implying that what she did with her body was her business and her business alone. There is no morality debate here.

Notably, Olivia is not seen to discuss her pregnancy or abortion with presumed father President Fitz either.

In another storyline, Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) filibustered a bill that would have threatened Planned Parenthood funding. The non-profit organisation issues a statement after the episode aired, writing:

“Tonight the millions of people who tune into Scandal every Thursday night learned that our rights to reproductive health care are under attack. Never one to shy away from critical issues, Shonda Rhimes used her platform to tell the world that if Planned Parenthood lost funding for contraception counseling, STI testing, cancer screenings, and safe, legal abortion — millions of people would suffer.

“This episode wasn’t the first time one of Rhimes’ characters had an abortion, yet tonight we saw one of our favorite characters make the deeply personal decision that one in three women have made in their lifetime.

“We applaud Shonda Rhimes tonight, and every Thursday night, for proving that when women are telling our stories, the world will pause and watch. We just hope those in Congress and throughout the nation who are steadfast on rolling the clock back on reproductive health care access are taking note.”

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