When Gladiator Olivia Pope has an abortion on Scandal, it isn’t a drawn-out scene. There is no fanfare, no sobbing, no fraught discussion over will-she-or-won’t-she, no three-season-long arc over the drama or repercussions of her decision. As viewers, we see the procedure played out in a hospital, on a sterile hospital bed, exactly as it would be in real life.
The scene is minimal, effective, realistic. Amazing.
It also almost didn’t make it to air-time. Shonda Rhimes revealed to Hollywood Reporter in an expansive oral history that she actually fought for the scene, and that ABC didn’t want it to happen.
“I said, ‘Go ahead, alter the scene,” Rhimes recalled, “We’ll just have a lot of articles about how you altered the scene.'”
As we all know, fierce woman that she is, she won out in the end.
Showing an abortion that isn’t shameful or taboo is a powerful message for the masses who watch the primetime show, and a long overdue one.
“I don’t think abortion had ever been presented as an emancipated woman’s option before,” Bellamy Young, actress (Mellie) on the show, added. “And it’s set to ‘Silent Night.’ The balls to pick that song.”
The balls to slowly but surely change the world.