NRL News

TV and abortion: “Progress” = more abortions

by | Jul 22, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt

NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt

As NRL News Today has noted (at length), the controversy over the addle-pated “abortion-themed romantic comedy“” Obvious Child served as a springboard for a number of related discussions.

From our perspective, suffice it to say two things about the film itself. First, director Gillian Robespierre proved once again that there is no depth to which abortion advocates won’t sink to “normalize” abortion. That Robespierre and star Jenny Slate would continue to try to have it both way—milk the abortion angle for all its worth yet insist (wink, wink) that abortion was not the heart and soul of Obvious Child—is pretty much what you would expect.

Second, lead character Donna Stern (Slate’s foul-mouthed night club comic) is a linear descent of Emily Letts, infamous for videotaping her own abortion and putting her child’s final minutes on YouTube for all the world to see.

Pro-abortionists continue to try to make hay out of the controversy over a film that hardly lit up the box office. For example, a few weeks ago (according to the Washington Post’s Alyssa Rosenberg) “NBC found itself the target of criticism after reports surfaced that the network had declined a digital ad for the independent movie ‘Obvious Child.’” (That’s not entirely accurate. See below.)

The headline of Rosenberg’s piece illustrated her conclusion: ”Is TV afraid of abortion? For NBC, the answer is complicated.”

She is basically sympathetic to the answer NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt gave to a colleague of Rosenberg about “whether the controversy reflected a broader timidity about abortion and reproductive health on television.”

Greenblatt alluded to a show that ran 20 or so years ago where a character was considering an abortion. So, too, was the staff, deciding in the end to have her “lose the baby sort of on the way to getting the abortion.”

“I don’t think we cop out like that anymore, but I still think writers and producers are nervous about it because it really does divide people,” Greenblatt said. “But I think we’ve made progress.”

Rosenberg offers conclusions from an analysis from a pro-abortion think-tank that concludes abortion has been a more common story line since Roe. “The number of those storylines that end with a character losing the pregnancy has increased slightly, though there has been a greater shift toward characters carrying pregnancies to term and either parenting their children or giving them up for adoption,” she writes. But….

“[J]ust because pop culture has characters consider abortion more often does not mean that fictional characters are actually having abortions or that television has gotten any braver about treating abortion as routine,” Rosenberg writes. “As my former colleague Tara Culp-Ressler reported in February, ‘Between 1973 and 2002, abortion represented about 60 percent of the pregnancy outcomes in pop culture plots. But from 2003 and 2012, that dropped to about 48 percent.’”

So to be clear, “progress” = more women having abortions, not just considering them.

Greenblatt told Rosenberg that he thought “the advertising sales team at NBC had taken ‘the path of least resistance,’ selecting an ad that did not mention the ‘abortion angle’ in ‘Obvious Child’ by choosing the spot out of three potential options.

Jennifer Salke, president of NBC Entertainment, “said they simply could not remember very many story pitches about abortion and unplanned pregnancies during their tenure at NBC.” What about the future? “We would just want to make sure we were smart about it, that it was handled appropriately,” Salke said.

Categories: Media Bias