On Thursday night’s winter finale of ABC’s “Scandal,” viewers saw an accurate and respectful portrayal of abortion and a Republican woman defending Planned Parenthood. And for the first time, I saw myself in its heroine, Olivia Pope. Aside from being a black woman living in Washington, D.C., with questionable taste in Republican men, there isn’t much I have in common with the fictional political problem solver. But in this episode, she portrayed much of how I felt about my abortion at 19.
The episode opens with Pope (played by Kerry Washington) distraught over her new “first lady” duties after being moved into the White House to live with President Fitzgerald Grant. She puts on a happy face in front of White House holiday guests but is visibly numb and unhappy as she contemplates her new life choices. I could relate to her situation; some years ago, I, too, was fed up of being controlled and wanted to free myself from the bonds of an unhealthy relationship. Pope was portrayed seeking an abortion in a calm and decisive way, free from racist and sexist stereotypes about black women seeking abortions. For me, this TV moment was huge.