If the TV and film industry threw a party and invited all of the biggest social ills -- alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence, rape, drunk driving, infidelity, bullying, child pornography -- as guests, abortion would be persona non grata, the unwanted person. That's because in the world of mainstream media, depicting abortion on film or TV is akin to inviting a socially ostracized party guest whose mere presence is guaranteed to start a fight.
No matter what your opinions are, abortion is legal in the United States and annually, nearly 1.3 million women decide to terminate their pregnancies. Very few public discussions ever revolve around that decision. In a country that values, treasures, respects and honors the freedom of individual choice in nearly every other regard, a woman who chooses abortion frequently enjoys none of those courtesies from others here in the U.S. Going public with the statement, "I had an abortion" puts a woman at risk of threats of physical violence, intimidation, and alienation.
Of the estimated 750,000 teens who decide to have an abortion each year, most keep quiet about the decision. Media ignores their choices and their reality. Shows like The Secret Life of an American Teenager even go so far as to depict characters who are dissuaded from having an abortion; one leading character was actually sitting in a health clinic when the mother of a friend convinced her to change her mind.
In Juno, the title character's decision to have an abortion is rocked when she runs into an acquaintance protesting outside a clinic, chanting, "All babies want to get borned." Not since the 1982 teen film Fast Times at Ridgemont High has abortion been portrayed in a straightforward and non-judgmental manner.
One of the biggest criticisms facing the popular MTV shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom is the deliberate exclusion of pregnant teens who consider and choose abortion. After showing dozens of pregnant teens who choose to give birth, MTV is finally inviting the unwanted guest to the party.
On Tuesday, December 28 at 11:30 pm, MTV is airing the special No Easy Decision which focuses on pregnant teens who choose abortion. Among the stories it follows is the the tale of Markai, a former 16 and Pregnant star who becomes pregnant a second time and decides to terminate her pregnancy. Dr. Drew Pinsky, who has appeared on previous MTV specials talking with teens about their decisions (including the stars of the popular Teen Mom series) will also be included in the conversation.
Knowing that the girls featured on the special will be bombarded with hate after their stories air, the website 16 and Loved is already up and running to provide messages of unconditional love and support to the three girls who are featured in No Easy Decision. The site offers readers a chance to post their own stories about abortion and leave comments for the girls to let them know that going public with their decision is a courageous act.
The driving force behind the site is Exhale, a nonprofit organization that provides a nonjudgmental national, multilingual after-abortion talkline and trained peer counselors. Exhale, which partnered with MTV during the production phase of the special, is covering the show with live blogging and a Twitter campaign. You can follow them @ExhaleProVoice on Twitter and look for the hashtags:#16andloved and #provoice to connect with other supporters.
- Why Choose Abortion? Facts and Statistics on the Abortion Choice
- Readers Respond: Why I Chose Abortion
- Share Your Abortion Story
- What Juno Says About Teen Pregnancy, Abortion and Choice
- 10 Facts on Teen Pregnancy in the U.S.
- Write Your Own Review: Best/Worst Teen Pregnancy & Teen Mom TV Shows
- Why Teens Choose Abortion