It’s been four years since Netflix began producing and releasing its own content for the world to consume (or shall I say “binge”). What was once a conduit for television shows and movies is now a leader in the entertainment game, producing more original series or films than any other American network in 2016. Needless to say, its impact on culture is massive.
In June, Netflix released GLOW, a series centered around a group of female actresses/wrestlers in the 1980s. The show deals heavy-handedly with a lot of serious issues, one of which is abortion.
The main character, Ruth Wilder, played by Alison Brie, has an affair with her best friend’s husband, which results in her becoming pregnant. She quickly decides to have an abortion. Her reasoning? “It’s not the right time. Not the right baby.”
Ruth is shown staring up at the ceiling tiles as her abortion is being performed. She leaves the clinic and it’s never mentioned in the show again.
The Hollywood Reporter published an article entitled “‘GLOW’ Team Goes Inside Realistic Abortion Episode.” When the writers were asked about their decision to touch on the topic of abortion, they said,
“We didn’t have some macro-intention to expose this somewhere in the season, it just organically came up. We did have a lot of heated discussion in the writers room about whether we wanted to show the abortion. If we were telling honest stories about things that women go through, whether it be in the ‘80s or now, a bunch of us felt that was a very relatable and normal story for certain types of women and that we shouldn’t shy away from showing that if it’s an actual, real experience.”
And they were right. Abortion is a very real experience for women. However, if the writers of GLOW had actually, realistically portrayed an abortion, there would be millions joining the ranks of the pro-life movement.
What truly happens during an abortion could never be shown on a television screen. Even with everything we have become numb to seeing in shows and movies, I hope we will never become desensitized to seeing an innocent life being ended.
But that’s not that only way the show fails to portray abortion accurately. The show makes it seem like having an abortion is an easy decision and that there are no repercussions involved.
Brie told The Hollywood Reporter, “What I especially love about that episode is that it’s a very easy choice for Ruth to make, whether or not the emotional repercussions will continue throughout her life. They might or they might not.”
This narrative, however, is not what most women experience when it comes to abortion. Just look at the numbers:
- 64% of post-abortive women said they felt pressured by others to abort. (Medical Science Monitor, 2004)
- 84% of post-abortive women reported not receiving adequate counseling prior to their abortion. (Medical Science Monitor, 2004)
- 54% of post-abortive women said they were not sure about their decision to abort at the time. (Medical Science Monitor, 2004)
- There is an 81% increased risk of mental trauma after abortion. (The British Journal of Psychiatry)
These numbers represent the reality that most women face following their abortions. GLOW ‘s storyline, however, is an accurate depiction of the narrative the pro-choice movement pushes–that abortion is really no big deal.
This is not only fundamentally false, but it is also a blatant betrayal of women–those who have had abortions and those who will have abortions.
So, to Netflix, to Hollywood, to the pro-choice movement as a whole: Please stop disregarding the stories of real women who have had real abortions. They are important, they are valid, and they deserve to be heard.