I’m Rooting for An Abortion This Friday Night

I’m rooting for an abortion.

There’s sure to be an exciting football game in this week’s episode of Friday Night Lights (which has already aired on DirecTV but airs on NBC on Friday), but it’s the outcome of Becky’s pregnancy, not the game, that I’ll be interested in tonight.

In last week’s episode, 15-year-old Becky found out she was pregnant and is considering an abortion. If she has one tonight, it will be one of only a few abortions shown on network television since Bea Arthur’s Maude had one back in 1972. That would be a victory for Becky—and the millions of women like her who choose abortion every year.

In the real world, abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures in the country and more than a third of American women will have one by age 45. On TV, however, unexpected pregnancies usually result in a baby without even a mention of the “A” word. If a character does consider abortion, as Private Practice’s Maya did last season and Grey’s Anatomy’s Christina did in Season 1, it typically ends with an 11th hour change of heart or a convenient miscarriage as a last-minute cop-out. But Friday Night Lights has already shown it’s not afraid to tackle controversial issues with a nuance and realism that’s unparalleled in mainstream television. If any show can offer a thoughtful, honest portrayal of the intensely personal decision to end an unwanted pregnancy, it’s this one.

I’m rooting for an abortion because I’m rooting for Becky. Because she is a sophomore in high school and desperately wants to escape Dillon, Texas. Because she was raised by a single teenage mother and is determined not to relive her life. Because after taking four pregnancy tests and getting four positive results, she called the 1-800 number on the box near tears to find out just how accurate these tests are. Because when she discovered she was pregnant, Becky said she wanted to get an abortion.

And I want Becky to have an abortion without the world crashing down around her. I want her to have an abortion and then go back to competing in beauty pageants, fighting with her mom, and obsessing over her crush, Tim Riggins. I want her to get on with being a rather silly 15-year-old girl. And I want someone in her life to tell her she shouldn’t be ashamed of making the decision that’s right for her.

I’m rooting for an abortion because I want all the teenage girls who have been in Becky’s position and had an abortion to see their choice represented on TV with respect and empathy. According to the Guttmacher Institute, each year, 750,000 women aged 15–19 become pregnant. Nearly a third of these young women decide to get an abortion, representing 18% of all abortions in the U.S. each year. While Becky isn’t real, these women are. And they deserve to see their choice acknowledged and validated onscreen.

Becky, like all great characters, represents someone we know or someone we love or someone we might be. And I want all the teenage girls watching who may one day find themselves, like Becky, unexpectedly pregnant and very scared to know that they too can have an abortion and that life—and football—will go on.

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  • arekushieru

    I don’t know when the original Degrassi High first aired or when the episode of the girl who decided to have an abortion and took her twin sister to the clinic with her was played, but it certainly did not show the girl as completely undone by the process, afterwards.  Actually, the episode never played a big part in the whole series from then on, I think.  If they actually portray it as sincerely as that episode of Degrassi was, then I will be absolutely grateful to them.

  • 7domingo

    Rooting for the death of a human being?  I can’t think of any worse sign of utter poverty!

  • brokendirigible

    And exactly what do you mean by “utter poverty”?

  • bei1052

    And if there was ever a case for why one should watch an episode before writing that they hope someone chooses to have an abortion, this is it.


    I wonder what the pro-choicers think of Becky’s mom, though…

  • prochoiceferret

    Rooting for the death of a human being?  I can’t think of any worse sign of utter poverty!

    Um… did you read the article? No one is rooting for the death of a human being. Please refrain from reading your silly anti-choice theories into everything you see.


    I’ll give you a terrible sign of “utter poverty,” however: a pregnant woman who does not want to be pregnant and does not have access to safe, legal abortion.

  • arekushieru

    Really?  How so?  The verdict isn’t out, yet.  Is she going to have mental issues or isn’t she?  If they actually play it like it most often happens in real life, she won’t.


    Why would that have anything to do specifically with ProChoicers?  Her mom supports her in her decision, but she isn’t so great on any other (other as in any measurement outside of the abortion focussed scales, of course) scale.


  • ahunt

    I saw the episode, and the ones subsequent awhile back…and I’m not following. Becky made the right decision for Becky. Especially considering the nightmarish paternal grandmother, who made it all about HER rights to a grandchild…


    Had Becky been forced to carry to term…my HOPE would be that THAT harpy would be cut out of the picture altogether. 

  • saltyc

    I can’t verify, but I seem to remember that she wanted to get an abortion, but never actually did because she miscarried.

  • tonys

    What is it?  A chicken?


    If “nature” takes its course, the feoti, ZBEF or “clump of cells,” or however you refer to the fetus to make it seem non-human, will become a post-born human person.


    Funny how many liberal pro-abortion folks all claim to be against big companies that pollute the earth and are into organic everything; yet they continue to espouse using chemicals that limit/reduce pregnancy that enter our water supplies and modify fish and animal genitalia as well as promote using chemicals to kill innocent members of their own species.  The hypocrisy is amusing.

  • arekushieru

    Hmm, people will promote consent to organ donation, even when another’s life is involved, with one hand but deny it to women, because *fetal* life is involved.  Then attempt to shame women for exercising the same rights that everyone else has and, if successful, attempt to denigrate women who try to step out of that second-class view held against them by portraying why it isn’t so bad to exercise their rights.  The hypocrisy (of ProLifer’s, of course) is amusing.


    Would you call a fetus in fetu or parasitic twins human beings?  If not, then I have to wonder why you are furthering your hypocrisy?  A fetus is human life but it is NOT a human being.  There IS a difference.


    Why are you falling for propaganda…?  These chemicals aren’t NEARLY as harmful to one’s reproductive capacities as those that most ProLife Conservatives support dumping into offshore waters.





  • squirrely-girl

    Btw, are you a vegan? Seeing as you’re all concerned with the genital of fish and animals, I should perhaps assume so… right?! Or is YOUR hypocrisy something to amuse myself with? See… here is apparently where logic and reality have escaped you. 

    If “nature” takes its course, the feoti, ZBEF or “clump of cells,” or however you refer to the fetus to make it seem non-human, will become a post-born human person. (emphasis mine)


    As many as 25% of pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion (the proper medical term for a miscarriage). More end as stillbirths. Without even venturing into any number of fetal conditions incompatible with life, both of these scenarios are just “nature taking it’s course.” 


    And it’s INCREDIBLY funny to me, how the government regulations that ALLOW big corporations to dump chemicals (like pharmaceutical companies) are generally supported by anti-choice Repubs all in the name of keeping government out of private business. Or did you never stop to think how those chemicals got into the water supply in the first place? Ohhhhhhhhhhhh… did you think it was just from urine??? Then why aren’t those animals illegal drug addicts as well? Why aren’t they bulking up from steroids? I’m sure none of them are anemic or diabetic now either. At least if the fish are physically retarded they don’t have any mental health problems right? 


    Go ahead, keep reading and spouting off with the propaganda if you want. But literate, educated people WILL know the truth and just continue to think you’re ignorant. 

  • ch

    See Amanda Marcotte’s discussion of the Maude abortion episode in the archives of this site in May 2009.

  • crowepps

    So are you against abortion AND also against the use of effective birth control?


    That seems kind of weird, since obviously limiting/reducing pregnancy when people don’t WANT to have children cuts down on the number of abortions.


    Funny how people who claim abortion ‘kills a living human child’ also want lots and lots of human children created although they are unwanted and will likely BE killed.  They hypocrisy is amusing.

  • prochoiceferret

    Funny how people who claim abortion ‘kills a living human child’ also want lots and lots of human children created although they are unwanted and will likely BE killed.  They hypocrisy is amusing.

    I think he secretly loves it when women get abortions. But he’s probably dating a “pro-life” girlfriend, and wants to get into her pants, so he has to keep up appearances.

  • crowepps

    I’m sure a person with his strong moral convictions about the ‘unborn’ would never, ever take the risk of actually having SEX.