They told me, "Son, it's time to tell the truth"
And she broke down and I broke down
'Cause I was tired of lying
Good Girls Avoid Abortion. But what about when they don't? Abortion Fallout Drama is about plotlines and character arcs that deal with a character's decision to get an abortion. This may be a Very Special Episode to educate young people.
Sometimes, the drama comes from the procedure itself, when it is presented as expensive, dangerous, or hard to get. Often this involves a pregnant teen sneaking around her parents to hide the pregnancy, sneaking across the border, or interacting with organized crime or even a Loan Shark to get a back-alley abortion.
Other times, the drama is in the fallout. The character who got the abortion may suffer physical side effects or even death or simply be wracked with guilt and question her decision. The abortion can also cause conflict between characters. Often this arises between the parents of the fetus when they disagreed about whether to have the abortion in the first place or secretly blame each other for the situation. This often leads to a break-up. Other times, the conflict is between the character who got the abortion and her family who may shun or even disown her.
This trope is most prevalent in the West, where abortion is a sensitive topic, with pro-lifers arguing that abortion is violence and pro-choicers arguing that abortion is a personal choice. As such, these plots may be used to deliver An Aesop about the controversy in a Very Special Episode. Anti-abortion stories will have the person getting the abortion be a villain or "bad girl" who suffers an Anvilicious death or a Heel–Faith Turn. Conversely, pro-choice stories will usually not cast judgement on a protagonist’s choice to have an abortion as “immoral” or “irresponsible” (abortion clinic protestors or anti-abortion proponents may or may not feature as common antagonists). As this is a touchy subject, there's room for plenty of nuance in between. Due to the potential for controversy, No Real Life Examples, Please!.
- One Bitchy Bitch arc is about how Midge got pregnant as a teenager in the sixties and had to beg, borrow and steal to have a back-alley abortion that she had to hide from her parents. The whole thing is portrayed absolutely horrifically, but an Author Avatar steps in to explain that Midge was still lucky, comparatively speaking because getting an abortion in her time and place could have gone much, much worse.
- Cerebus the Aardvark: At the start of the Jaka's Story arc, when Cerebus and his former flame Jaka reunite, he asks about her babynote and she tells him that she had a miscarriage. However, at the end of the arc, it's revealed that she actually had an abortion without her husband's knowledge and that she would've had a son, which was what her husband wanted more than anything. Enraged and heartbroken, he punches her out and screams that he never wants to see her again, which the Cirinist government is happy to arrange.
- Invincible: During the course of their relationship, Atom Eve becomes pregnant with Invincible's child. Shortly thereafter, Invincible leaves Earth to take part in a cosmic war and is gone for months, with Eve never telling him she's with child. When he returns, Eve tearfully tells him that she had an abortion, feeling that she wasn't ready to have a child by herself since there was a very real possibility that Invincible wouldn't come back. Invincible doesn't criticize her for having the abortion, instead lamenting that he wasn't there for her during her time of need.
- In the 1970’s underground comics feminist anthology It Ain’t Me Babe, one of the stories is about a teenage girl who gets an illegal abortion. She scrapes up the money by selling her stereo and borrowing her dad’s credit card to make large purchases and returns. Once she gets there, the procedure is done by a creepy Back-Alley Doctor who practically butchers her and only gives her gin for the pain. She almost dies of complications but is saved by a proper doctor. She doesn’t regret her choice but is essentially scared of having sex again after all that.
- Beautiful Monster: As soon as Betty finds out she's pregnant by the unknown assailant who raped her, she decides to get an abortion. Her partner Harriet tries to talk her out of it at first, even going so far as to assure her that the baby won't turn out to be terrible like Betty's parents were. However, Betty is adamant about not wanting to raise a child she'd resent just for existing, and she ultimately goes through with the abortion. Harriet apologizes for her behavior soon after.
- Born To Be Alive is the sequel to the Zootopia fancomic I Will Survive in which Judy decides to get an abortion after Nick gets her pregnant, causing Nick to break up with her. The sequel reveals that Judy was the first rabbit to get an abortion, and there were serious medical consequences that kept her in the hospital for a while.
- Eyes on Me: In Being Human, Connie has an abortion after being raped at a Halloween party. While Steven is uneasy about his girlfriend's decision at first, he eventually comes around to it, and the fanfic portrays Connie's decision as the right one to make.
- Played with (neutrally) in the .flow poem fic Lucky (which is based on a theory), where Sabitsuki (a prostitute in this fic) has had abortions in the past. However, it's not that she has them or whether she's a "good girl." It's that procedures are back-alley ones and, on one such occasion, the procedure (like at least one other before) is botched, which almost kills her and leads to a severe infection, ending her time as a prostitute.
- Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: In the Wicke & Nephew oneshot. Wicke is specifically noted to be a carrier of a genetic disorder, and due to the politics of her nation screening for a male embryo possibly affected is illegal. She decides that she'd only have kids by adoption or stepchildren.
- The 2007 Romanian film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days is about a young woman, Gabita, whose roommate Otilia helps arrange her back-alley abortion at a time when Romania was ruled by a communist dictatorship where abortion was illegal. They hire an abortionist, Mr. Bebe, to perform it in a hotel bathroom. The film paints a picture of how risky it was to get an abortion back then; Otilia has to have sex with Bebe after she and Gabita realize they spent some of the money on the hotel room and that she lied about how long she was pregnant, and there is a rather disturbing shot of the aborted fetus in the bathroom.
- 21 Grams: Paul learns his wife Mary had undergone an abortion when they had separated in the past. Seeing as she's trying to get artificially inseminated in a last-ditch effort to get pregnant when Paul finds out, his angered reaction is justified.
- In Baby Boy, Yvette aborts what would have been her second child with Jody. She has sympathy on her side, however, since she's heartbroken over the procedure and her boyfriend Jody is an irresponsible jerkass who has a child with another woman.
- In the Christian film Deadly Choice, a doctor's daughter becomes pregnant and is considering an abortion; her father tries to talk her out of it, saying that it is murder. The daughter goes through with it anyway but feels guilty about it.
- In the Russian film Deal, a ballroom studio owner learns that one of his top female dancers is knocked up only a few months before a major competition. After berating her for not using protection, he asks if it's too late to get an abortion. She says her parents are against it, and she runs out. In the end, the owner tries to reconcile with his wife, who demanded separation earlier in the movie, only for her to reveal that the real reason she wants to leave him is that he made her get an abortion early in their dance careers. Being young and foolish, she agreed and now regrets it.
- In the 1968 German film Der Artz von St. Pauli (English titles: Street of Sin; Sidewalk Doctor; Females for Hire; Bedroom Stewardesses), Klaus is an upscale gynecologist and illegal abortionist, assisted by his nurse Gerda. A young woman comes to his office for an abortion, and the abortion procedure is dramatized. During the operation, Klaus's hand slips, and he is unable to halt the resulting bleeding. Gauze is inserted to temporarily absorb the blood, then Klaus and Gerda go to the next room. Klaus wants to call an ambulance but Gerda disagrees because of the trouble it would bring. While they argue, the patient awakens in pain, overhears them, stumbles from the operating room via another exit, goes outside, and hails a taxi. She is dead on arrival at the hospital. Later in the film, Klaus shoots Nurse Gerda dead, and, when finally cornered, Klaus shoots himself. (It is unknown if any of the edited English-dubbed versions retained the abortion subplot.)
- In the movie Detective Story, Kirk Douglas plays Jim McLeod, a police officer with a jones to bust an abortionist (when, being in the '50s, abortion is a criminal offense). The doctor assumes McLeod is out to get him because the doc once performed an abortion on Mrs. McLeod. Not so! McLeod didn't know about that at all. When McLeod finds out, he's more upset because his wife had the abortion before they met. In an example of extreme Values Dissonance, the head of the Hays Commission tried to rain down hellfire on the film, saying that abortion was such an evil that you couldn't even discuss it in a film, even if you were portraying it in a fairly negative fashion.
- In Dirty Dancing, the dancing instructor tries to have an abortion but because it's The '60s and they're illegal, it goes horribly wrong. Fortunately, the heroine's father is a doctor, so he manages to save her, although it does make for a major misunderstanding. In this case, the girl is still considered "good" both by the audience and the other characters, and the blame is rightly placed on the rich snob who knocked her up and dumped her. Even the heroine's father blames him when he learns the truth.
- In Dogma, Bethany got a back-alley abortion from another student when she got pregnant in college. The student botched the operation, resulting in a uterine infection which left Bethany unable to bear children; her husband left her when he found out about the latter. This made her lose her faith. However, the narrative doesn't treat her decision negatively, and her chosen profession is in fact working at a legal abortion clinic, ensuring other women have access to safe terminations.
- In El Crimen del Padre Amaro (English title: The Crime of Father Amaro), the titular priest has an affair with Amelia and gets her pregnant. Being a Catholic priest in very Catholic Mexico, he of course wants her to leave town to protect his reputation. Instead, she tries to reunite with her ex-boyfriend Ruben so she can pass the baby off as his. When Ruben rejects her advances, Father Amaro arranges for Amelia to have a back-alley abortion. The abortion, of course, goes wrong and Amelia dies. Ruben coincidentally leaves town at the same time and so is subsequently blamed for what happened to Amelia while Amaro gets to keep his good reputation.
- Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Stacy Hamilton, a 15-year-old high school student, decides on an abortion when she discovers she is pregnant from a hookup with Mike Damone. The drama revolves not around the controversy or ill effects of the abortion but around Damone flaking on paying his half and failing to provide a promised ride to a clinic. Stacy goes through the procedure without Damone's support. After the procedure, Stacy is on a field trip with her biology class and becomes uncomfortable at the sight of her teacher performing an autopsy because it reminds her of the abortion. But it is mostly a passing moment and Stacy goes on with her life and dates Mark.
- In The Godfather Part II, Kay, during her confrontation with Michael in which she tells him that she is leaving him and taking their children, reveals to him that the "miscarriage" that she had was actually an abortion. She was going to give birth to a son, which she did not want because she has come to hate the mafia world that Michael lives in and all that it represents, and does not want her children getting caught up in it and being corrupted or destroyed. Michael, needless to say, does not take this well — it is one of the few times Michael raises his voice or gets visibly angry.
Kay: Oh, Michael. Michael, you are blind. It wasn't a miscarriage. It was an abortion. An abortion, Michael. Just like our marriage is an abortion. Something that's unholy and evil. I didn't want your son, Michael! I wouldn't bring another one of your sons into this world! It was an abortion, Michael! It was a son, Michael! A son! And I had it killed because this must all end! I know now that it's over. I knew it then. There would be no way, Michael... no way you could ever forgive me, not with this Sicilian thing that's been going on for two thousand years.
- High Fidelity: This turns out to be one of the reasons Rob and Laura have broken up at the start of the movie. Rob explains to the audience that Laura had a Surprise Pregnancy, but before she could tell him, he cheated on her with another woman and she chose to abort and didn't tell him. Way later after they had made up, Rob made an unrelated wisecrack about them starting a family, which reduced Laura to tears; she explained about the abortion and he lost his temper with her over it.
- If These Walls Could Talk: In the first story, the woman gets an abortion in the 1950s from a back-alley doctor and it goes badly, with her fate left uncertain. The third, set in the then-current era of the 1990s, has a college student have an abortion in spite of her friend counseling against it, running a gauntlet of pro-life activists at the clinic, and having the doctor shot to death during the middle of the operation when a man sneaks in.
- Ingmar Bergman:
- In his early film Port of Call (1948), the young working-class heroine picks up a friend from a Back-Alley Doctor abortionist. Something goes very wrong, the friend dies, and when the cops demand that she name the abortionist, she refuses, arguing that someone has to look out for the people society leaves to fend for themselves.
- In Persona (1966), Alma's darkest secret is getting an abortion after an orgiastic tryst with underage boys. When she recounts this, she burst into tears and talks about how she is haunted and that she isn't living according to her values. This sets up the duality between her and Elisabet, who is outwardly a perfect mother but deeply resents her son after failing to abort him.
- The Life Before Her Eyes: She gets the abortion, and the film treats it as a very bad decision with lasting consequences.
- Long Weekend: A major source of the conflict between Marcia and Peter in their marriage stems from Marcia getting an abortion (possibly to conceal an affair she was having), and the former feeling lingering guilt about it.
- Memoirs of a Geisha reveals that Sayuri's mentor Mameha aborts all of the children she conceived by her client, the Baron. While most of the characters treat it as normal if a bit embarrassing, Mameha has graves for her aborted children which she visits regularly.
- In Where Are My Children?, a 1916 anti-abortion "message picture", the upper-class Mrs. Walton is left sterile by a series of selfish abortions, while the pure, innocent, lower-class Lilian dies after being coerced into a botched abortion. Mrs. Walton's husband, who didn't know about the abortions and wanted kids, is left screaming the Title Drop "Where are my children?" at his wife when he finds out.
- In Ayesha At Last, this is revealed to be the reason why Zareena is the Black Sheep of Khalid’s family. She was in a Secret Relationship and got pregnant. She had an abortion but went to gym class immediately after. She started bleeding and was hospitalized. When her mother learned the truth, she responded by disowning Zareena, pulling her out of school, and sending her into an Arranged Marriage in India. She refused to speak to her even after her father died. In the present day, Zareena doesn’t regret what she did and is Happily Married but refuses to forgive her mother for what happened.
- Inverted in Brave New World: Linda is ostracized because she didn't abort. This is a society where babies are grown in People Jars, motherhood is seen as obscenity, and abortion centers are luxury spas. Linda is so humiliated at the idea of being a mother (she would have aborted had she not gotten trapped in the Savage Reservation) that as soon as she got back to society she took soma until it killed her.
- Daisy Jones & The Six: Karen discovers that she's pregnant by Graham in the middle of the band's big tour. Graham wants to keep the baby and be a family, but Karen never wanted children and doesn't want to give up her music career. She gets an abortion and only tells him after it's done. In the framing interviews Graham still has mixed feelings about the situation decades later.
- The Dream Park novel The Barsoom Project has a female character who (in the backstory) had attracted too much male attention at a young age and ended up getting an abortion. The procedure left her sterile and caused her to gain a large amount of weight as a "shield" against men. Her character arc involves forgiving herself for this.
- In Flight of the Swan: For a while, as a sixteen-year-old ballerina in late 19th century Russia, Niura has two lovers: her arts patron Dandré and Russian Prince Kotshubei. Eventually, she gets pregnant and has an abortion that leaves her infertile. Ever since, if she sees a child on the street, she feels like hugging him.
- In the Polish novel Granica by Zofia Nalkowska, a young, naive, lower-class girl named Justyna has an affair with The Protagonist Zenon. When she gets pregnant, at first she is very happy but then, when Zenon does not want to marry her, gets an abortion. This changes her from a happy, bright girl into a bitter, broken one. She tries to kill herself and then attacks Zenon with acid, blinding him, which in turn leads him to suicide.
- The House on the Lagoon: Carmita, narrator Isabel's mother, becomes pregnant relatively soon with her second child. Gabriela, Carmita's mother pressures her to have an abortion so she doesn't end up trapped with two small kids. It goes wrong, making it impossible for Carmita to have any more children and messing with her mental health.
- The Kitchen God's Wife:
- A servant girl whom Wen Fu brutally raped dies trying to induce an abortion, and she is portrayed sympathetically and tragically.
- Winnie herself induces several abortions after Wen Fu falls off the deep end and abuses his Marital Rape License for all it's worth. Considering his hand in their daughter Yiku's death, she considers it a pre-emptive Mercy Kill.
- Little Fires Everywhere: Lexie has an abortion after getting pregnant with her boyfriend's baby so they can go to college. She is shown to have very mixed feelings, but the people who learn about it don't tell her it was wrong.
- Downplayed in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Charlie's older sister gets pregnant as a teen and has to hide this from her parents and sneaks around to get an abortion. She relies on her friends and brother to help her get the procedure, but this is a source of strength for their relationship rather than conflict. This subplot was excised from the movie.
- In Yulia Voznesenskaya's My Posthumous Adventures, Anna, the main character, has an abortion at eighteen and at first doesn't think of it as anything bad; but she is left infertile, suffers bouts of depression due to it, and often secretly cries watching kids on a playground. After her clinical death, she is judged (among other things) for the child's murder and shown that had she kept the baby, her boyfriend whom she thought was immature would have married her, and they would have eventually become a happy and loving family.
- The Spy Who Loved Me: The narrator and protagonist, Vivienne, was pressured into an abortion by a lover who seemed considerate and sensitive up until she announced she was pregnant. Then, he blamed her for the situation and insisted on paying for her trip to Switzerland (abortion was illegal in Great Britain at the time). She doesn't want the procedure but goes through with it because she doesn't want to be a single mother, either.
- Youth in Sexual Ecstasy takes a strong pro-life stance. The protagonist of the novel mentions abortion as one of the main reasons for youngsters having sex freely; then, after watching The Silent Scream, he has a My God, What Have I Done? moment when he remembers breaking up with his pregnant girlfriend (who pleaded and begged him to help her keep their baby) and then giving her the money for aborting his child.
- All My Children: In 1973, a young Erica Kane has an abortion. She gains a life-threatening infection from the procedure. This was later infamously retconned decades later into the abortion doctor harvesting Erica's fetus and implanting it in his own wife, resulting in the character of Josh Madden, Erica's son with Jeff Martin. Never mind that that's not even possible now, let alone in the seventies!
- Avocado Toast: Elle tells her mother Patricia of having an abortion only long after she's done this. While she states her support of the right to choose, Patricia's unhappy that she didn't tell her and thinks Elle really didn't put much thought into her decision. Elle counters that Patricia was off on a trip in Europe then. They argue, and Patricia apologizes to Elle for it, saying she was projecting her own feelings due to having had her unplanned too, while Elle's turned out to be such a smart, beautiful woman.
- In the 2003 Battlestar Galactica series there is an episode where a girl wants to have an abortion. But her parents won't let her, and the religious beliefs of the colony she was from before the Cylon attack forbade it despite its legality. Though pro-choice herself, President Roslin understands that there are less than fifty thousand humans left in the universe and that they will have to grow their numbers if they're to survive as a species. In the end, she outlaws abortion via executive order... after the girl has had her abortion and has applied for asylum aboard Galactica so she doesn't have to go back to her parents. Baltar, who's running against her for the position of President, immediately seizes on this and makes his campaign pro-choice on the grounds that humanity can't afford to sign away its rights.
- Better Things: In Season 5 it's gradually revealed Max got pregnant and had an abortion, with Rich by her side. She's afraid to tell Sam and asks that Rich do it after some time has lapsed afterward.
- In The Bold and the Beautiful there's Morgan DeWitt, an ex-girlfriend of Ridge's who came to town still bitter about the abortion she'd had years ago. Flashbacks showed that she had wanted the baby, but had been browbeaten into terminating the pregnancy by Ridge's controlling mother Stephanie, who didn't feel that Morgan was good enough for Ridge, nor that the two were ready to take on the responsibility of parenthood. The result is a woman utterly obsessed with having a baby—Ridge's baby specifically—to the point of manipulating Ridge into sleeping with her and eventually kidnapping one of Ridge's children after a Tragic Stillbirth.
- Saga in Season 4 of The Bridge (2011) aborts Henrik's baby, after promising him she wouldn't because he was still haunted by the disappearance of his daughters and saying she would let him raise the baby. This is why he breaks up with her and he never fully forgives her, although it's also subject to a Debate and Switch in that one of his daughters isn't dead, so he does still get to be a father.
- In Call the Midwife, one episode follows Nora Harding's increasingly desperate attempts to induce abortion. Her story is played utterly for sympathy — she already has eight children and can hardly afford to feed and shelter them — and everyone who finds out are only worried that Nora will inadvertently hurt herself in her attempts to abort. The episode deals with the issue of the invention of birth control, and how that would have saved her all of the heartbreak and stress she suffers. Ultimately, Nora resorts to a back-alley abortion and nearly dies from septicemia. Sister Julienne tells Jenny that this is far from the first time she's dealt with the situation and knows exactly what to tell the doctor so that the woman can get the necessary care without being arrested for an illegal abortion.
- Later episodes on the subject follow a similar pattern: a pregnant woman is driven to seek out a backstreet abortion or attempt a termination herself for lack of better options and suffers serious medical complications, but survives and escapes prosecution due to prompt and discreet medical attention and good luck. Patients who break from the formula include the diabetic teenager who is entitled to a legal abortion in hospital, but resists (it’s unclear whether she really wants the baby that badly, or is simply trying to claw back some autonomy from her controlling mother), and the mother of two who averts the usual miracle recovery and contracts a deadly infection as part of Series 8’s abortionist arc.
- Capadocia: Sadistic prison guard La Negra gleefully informs inmate Sofía that her husband will not get her released because he got caught embezzling the funds. Later Sofia goes to the showers and does the job herself. She nearly bleeds out.
- Cold Case: Two episodes focused on this, both taking place in the '60s and having a Victim of the Week who took action after a close friend suffered a botched abortion and became infertile for it (in both cases, the botched abortions highlighted the trouble criminalizing abortion could cause, rather than serving to punish the characters).
- In "Volunteers", Julia helped other women secretly get illegal abortions from qualified doctors instead of dangerous hacks.
- In "Wings", Ally’s best friend got an abortion because the Double Standards meant she would be fired from her job as a stewardess. When she became infertile, her fiancé left her. Ally decided to start demanding equal rights for both pilots and stewardesses.
- Coronation Street:
- Invoked: Tracy pretends she's pregnant and that she aborted the child in order to get sympathy from her boyfriend, who wasn't letting her actual daughter live with them. Her mother is at first horrified that she got an abortion, and later horrified that Tracy would fake such a thing.
- Katy Harris was pregnant at eighteen (while dating a much older man). Her parents didn't approve of the relationship and told her when they suspected he was having an affair. He wasn't, but Katy believed them and got an abortion. She's portrayed as a victim this time, and when she finds out, she's Driven to Suicide over it.
- In season 2 of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Paula gets pregnant by her husband, and they decide together to get an abortion. The fallout is not specifically about this, but because her best friend Rebecca is so wrapped up in her own issues that Paula doesn't feel comfortable telling her. Paula later blows up at Rebecca for not being there for her.
- Criminal Minds:
- Downplayed in a third season episode. A stalking victim admits to having had an abortion about a year earlier, and though her fiancé is upset when he finds out, it does not seriously damage her or her relationship with him.
- In the fourth season, we find out that Prentiss had an abortion when she was fifteen. Though this fact is mentioned in the context of revealing why she's screwed up, the abortion is never treated as the reason; it is instead the negative reaction of her priest that damages not her, but her friend.
- In the penultimate episode of Daisy Jones & The Six, Karen, adamant that she doesn't want children, quietly aborts her baby by Graham. The fallout occurs in the finale, when Graham gets upset that she didn't tell him, and the two are forced to confront their incompatible desires for family.
- In Days of Our Lives, Mimi has an abortion after becoming pregnant by Rex. This is shown to be difficult for her emotionally, but she decides she is too young to have kids. She is punished harshly for this decision; she is blackmailed into assisting a kidnapper, her relationship with Rex falls apart when he finds out, and she becomes a borderline villain for some time.
- Defiance: Amanda had an abortion years ago. The abortion itself is treated as an understandable choice given the overall situation, but her handling of it — not even discussing it with the father, Connor Lang, beforehand, even knowing he would have a problem with it — led to the destruction of their relationship. It's later revealed that her pregnancy was a result of her rape by a stranger, but she had allowed Connor to believe otherwise.
- In Defying Gravity, Zoe has a one-night stand with Maddux and gets pregnant. Jen puts her in contact with a dealer, who supplies Zoe with a pill for a chemical termination (abortion is illegal in the States at this point, even though Jen believes that it's only a matter of time before the law is overturned). The pill ends up nearly killing Zoe, and she's rushed to the hospital for a hysterectomy (meaning no more kids, ever). Despite this, she remains in the space program and ends up on the Antares mission. On the ship, though, she starts hearing a baby cry, eventually revealed to be a hallucination created by the Beta object in one of the holds. The ultimate end for all this is finally revealed in the season finale (also the end of the show), where Zoe starts having full-blown hallucinations about Gamma being her baby, causing her to risk her life bringing it back to the ship and Maddux refusing to leave her behind after finally putting the pieces together.
- Erstwhile single mother Michelle matter-of-factly aborted her husband's baby, after rejecting abortion while she was pregnant the first time. The difference was partly that she loved the father of the first child, the notorious Dirty Den, and didn't actually love her husband, the weedy Lofty. Sadly, Lofty had wanted the baby, and this led to the breakup of their marriage (and arguably a better future for all concerned).
- Stacey also aborted Bradley's kid, and the show dealt with it unusually: instead of getting over it and everybody forgetting what had happened, Stacey was never comfortable with what she had done.
- Cassie is pressured into having an abortion by McKay in Euphoria, and while she does go through with it and it isn't portrayed as automatically negative, she is clearly extremely ambivalent about it.
- In the Filthy Rich episode "James 4:1", Rose learns that she's pregnant, and faces the prospect of having to enter into a shotgun wedding to her hated ex-fiancé in order to cover up the fact that she got pregnant by Mark, who's been posing as her half-brother. Naturally, Ginger offers to take her to New York to get an abortion, which she agrees is probably a better idea, but it puts her at odds with her very religious mother.
- Friday Night Lights: In season 4, high school student Becky gets pregnant and she confides in Tim Riggins. Tim takes her to see Mrs. Taylor, a school counselor, who simply lays out the options. Subverted in that once Becky's mother finds out, she drives Becky to the clinic herself (it's implied she had Becky as a teenager herself). The drama occurs when the family of the father finds out after the fact. They campaign to get Mrs. Taylor fired, and the setting being a conservative small Texas town, it works.
- In Girls there is some friction between Adam and his new girlfriend Mimi-Rose when she casually reveals she had an abortion the previous day. He's upset because she didn't tell or include him in the decision, but she makes it clear it was her choice, and he ends up swallowing his pride and apologizing to her.
- In a Russian teen TV series Kadetstvo, a Good Girl ponders over the option of abortion, decides to go through with it, and sticks to that decision. Her boyfriend objects to that, and she promptly breaks up with him.
- In Katla season 1 episode 7, the original Gunhild reveals that she sought some kind of illegal abortion when carrying Þór‘s child (because it was too late for a legal termination under the laws of the time), but it was botched, and she ended up giving birth to Björn — which also appears to explain his ambiguously defined disorder.
- The Knick: When Cornelia becomes pregnant after having sex with Edwards, he initially reluctantly agrees to perform an abortion so that it will be safe, but then backs out. So she goes to Sister Harriet. He isn't happy with this but knows that being together is socially impossible, and them running away would mean giving up their lives in New York forever. People who don't know that Edwards is the father suggest that Cornelia pass off the baby as her fiancé's, which she knows wouldn't work.
- Liar: Makeda takes drugs to induce abortion. Nobody in the know disapproves, but they cover it up because her father would, and send Makeda back to Ethiopia.
- Line of Duty: In Season 2, Lindsay reveals to Steve that she aborted her married lover Dryden's child, on the understanding that he would leave his wife if she did. He didn't, and Lindsay describes it as the worst thing she's ever done. It's even left ambiguous whether this is why Lindsay reveals that Dryden slept with an underage girl.
- The first season of Maude featured the 2-part "Maude's Dilemma" story when Maude discovers that she's pregnant at age 47. At first, she struggles over whether or not to have it for Walter's sake while trying to deal with the emotional stress; meanwhile, Walter considers having a vasectomy (which he decides not to get). Arthur discusses the health risks of Maude being a mother at such a late age, while Carol mentions that the abortion process is less risky than it was in the past. Walter eventually confesses that being a father was never one of his life's big goals, and Maude eventually decides to go ahead with the abortion.
- In Murdoch Mysteries: Dr. Julia Ogden reveals that she had an abortion and suffered severe complications, which inspired her friend to become an illegal abortionist in The Gay '90s in Canada where even contraceptive methods are against the law. She has no regrets because there was no way she would want to marry her lover, and she wanted to pursue her studies and career. However, it's later revealed that the abortion has left her barren. It's not clear how much she wants kids herself, but she knows the man she loves longs for a family.
- Nip/Tuck: Christian tells Kimber that she has to have an abortion because he doesn't want any more kids. She does it, but the procedure goes wrong and leaves her unable to have kids.
- Please Like Me: Not only does Claire undergo an abortion, it receives almost an entire episode dedicated to showing her going through the process, dealing with her conflicted feelings about it, and discussing them with Josh. All in all, it's an incredibly sensitive portrayal that doesn't diminish how significant a moment it is in her life, while never passing judgement on her for her choice.
- The Practice: Rebecca mentions having an abortion once to Eugene, and seems unhappy about it, or has mixed feelings.
- The Real World: In Season 2, Tammy had an abortion and was given the option by producers to have all references to her pregnancy edited out. She chose not to and this became a storyline, though Tammy herself was very at peace with her decision. One of the other housemates was very opposed to it.
- In Six Feet Under, Claire gets pregnant from her cheating sleazy boyfriend and ends up having an abortion. There are no ill side effects, but she does end up seeing her baby in the arms of Nate's dead wife in a hallucination/trip to the afterlife/whatever the hell that was.
- In one episode of Touched by an Angel, the angels are sent to counsel an estranged couple. It turns out that 20-something years earlier, the couple decided to have an abortion as they didn't feel they were ready for children. They were never able to conceive again and have spent the subsequent time regretting their decision and feeling that they were being punished for it. The angels assure them that that isn't the case.
- In Sex Education Maeve has an abortion after becoming pregnant from her lover, Jackson. She isn't judged for this and even gets her friend Otis to pick her up afterwards. Awkwardness ensues when Otis mistakenly believes she was asking him on a date and gets dressed up to see her, only to be stuck waiting outside the clinic with some anti-abortion protesters. It's not brought up again in the series after that.
- Scenes from a Marriage (2021): A large part of why Jonathan and Mira's marriage fails is because of the abortion Mira has in the first episode. Mira was already feeling trapped before it and had it so she could motivate herself to leave; the abortion then looms over their succeeding interactions since Jonathan wants another child and Mira was willing to give it a go with Poli.
- She's Gotta Have It: Clorinda tells Mars she had gotten pregnant by him in the past, having an abortion without telling him. He's upset and leaves after hearing this.
- Amanda Palmer: "Sex Changes" by the Dresden Dolls, which reads as a bitter song about having disappointing sex and getting an abortion ("You get more than you're asking for without the right protection", "the knife is nearing", "this little feat of engineering"...). Comes across as more of a straight-up Protest Song than "Oasis", for sure (the video for which includes "annoying fundamentalist Christians" protesting with signs that read "Jesus Hates You").
- "Brick" by Ben Folds Five tells of a young couple who have an abortion. The bridge seems to indicate the fallout is about to start:
As weeks went by, it showed that she was not fine.
They told me "Son, it's time to tell the truth.
She broke down and I broke down.
'Cause I was tired of lying.
- Word of God says that the song "Choirgirl" by Cold Chisel was about a girl getting an abortion and the resulting emotional fallout.
- Everlast's single "What It's Like" dedicates the entire second verse of the song to sympathetically portraying a woman who chooses to get an abortion after the man bails on her, and the anti-abortion protestors who spew their hatred at her as she approaches the clinic.
And then she heads for the clinic and she gets some static walking through the door
They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner and they call her a whore
God forbid you ever had to walk a mile in her shoes
'Cause then you really might know what it's like to have to choose
- There are two stories about the meaning of "Sara" by Fleetwood Mac, written and sung by Stevie Nicks:
- According to Nicks, it's about her friend Sara, who had an affair with Mick Fleetwood.
- According to Don Henley of Eagles, it's about Nicks' aborted daughter by Henley.
- "Lone Star" by The Front Bottoms is about a young guy who pays for his girlfriend's abortion. In addition to draining his bank account, which he's not happy about, the two of them spend the months afterward crying all the time, having nightmares, and begging God for forgiveness.
- "Lucy" by Christian post-grunge band Skillet is about the guilt a young couple feels after getting an abortion.
Now that it's over
I just wanna hold her
I'd give up all the world to see
That little piece of Heaven looking back at me
Now that it's over
I just wanna hold her
I've gotta live with the choices I've made
And I can't live with myself today
- "The Freshman" by The Verve Pipe; the guilt over an abortion drives the ex-girlfriend in the song into taking "a week's worth of valium".
- Dvě malá křídla tu nejsou ("Two Little Wings Are Not Here", a 1974 Czech cover of Killing Me Softly with His Song with lyrics by Zdeněk Borovec), one of singer Helena Vondráčková's standards, is about a "gentle girl" who has had an abortion. The act itself is referred to obliquely; it is made very clear that she feels both depressed and guilty (one of the verses goes: "That thing seemed to be usual/And now it seems to be a sin"). The whole song is very pessimistic and the music video shows a little girl dancing on a field while the singer walks sadly around a park.note
- In Graham Parker's "You Can't Be Too Strong," the singer is depressed over his girlfriend's decision to get an abortion.
- MAD Magazine had one article about telling the difference between a Drama, a Comedy, and a Reality Show (which was useful with shows like Laguna Beach: The Real OC and The Hills, when you couldn't tell what was scripted and what wasn't). One of the examples was pregnancy. If it's a comedy, she'll keep it and have lots of wacky jokes about pregnancy and henpecked husbands (citing Friends). If it's a drama, she'll abort it and be scarred for life (possibly referencing The OC or Law & Order). If it's a reality show, there will be cameras there to film it either way.
- In Cabaret, Sally brings up abortion immediately after announcing her pregnancy, but Cliff (who may or may not be the father) convinces her not to do it. In act two she changes her mind and has an abortion, which is played as a sign of her character's downward spiral.
- If/Then follows a woman named Elizabeth in two alternate timelines that arise based on a decision she makes early in the play. In the Beth timeline, Beth gets pregnant after a fling with her best friend Lucas and between her newfound focus on her career, Lucas's general immaturity, and the fact that it was just a fling rather than love, she decides to secretly get an abortion. When Lucas (who has always wanted children but never spoke up about it), finds out he's upset that she got the abortion without even telling him, wondering if things could have gone differently for them. Years go by in universe before the two speak again.
- In Machinal, a side conversation in the speakeasy scene has a man trying to persuade a rather reluctant woman to have an abortion. The subject is discussed in the most guarded and vague terms possible.
- In Men in White, protagonist Dr. George Ferguson has a one-night stand with a nurse, Barbara, and knocks her up. She keeps it a secret, gets an illegal abortion from a Back-Alley Doctor, and winds up dying of septic shock.
- Exaggerated in Fallen Women, the sixth play in the Mrs. Hawking series. Playwright Phoebe Roberts postulates that Jack the Ripper was secretly a skilled abortionist who provided London's elite—including the Royal Family itself—with his services to "clean up" their messes. The Ripper gradually became obsessed with how women's reproductive power "held such sway over men" and, after growing tired of simply killing patients in his office and passing it off as a genuine mistake, started hunting down living victims to capture the thrill of the chase.
- In Spring Awakening, Wendla, a pregnant 14-year-old, dies tragically in the course of a back-alley abortion.
- Most (though not all) versions of "The Tango Ballad" from The Threepenny Opera make reference to Low-Dive Jenny having become pregnant by Macheath, who then forces her to abort the child. Interestingly, the song suggests that this was the thing that ultimately convinced Jenny to break off her engagement to Mac, even though she reminisces fondly elsewhere in the song about Mac having pimped, stolen from, and beaten her repeatedly.
- In the stage version of The Twilight of the Golds, Suzanne has an abortion because of a genetic test that determines that her unborn child is gay. As a result, she becomes infertile and is estranged from her gay brother, David.
- In Kathy Rain, the titular protagonist had an abortion when she was sixteen. Her decision is heavily implied to be based on her own troubled relationship with her parents (her father was a biker who walked out on her and her mother, and her mother was psychologically abusive). Throughout the game, she is haunted by nightmares and visions of an eerie little boy with black hair, who turns out to be the boy she never had due to her abortion. It is, however, up ultimately to the player how Kathy feels about it; through dialogue choices, she can express remorse (both the more and the less wistful version), claim that she did what she had to do, or assert that she did nothing wrong.
- Destroyer of Light: When Persephone becomes pregnant from a one-night stand, she has to hide the pregnancy and her plan to get an abortion from her mother, who previously called it "monstrous". It's further complicated by the fetus being divine and immortal like her; Zeus has to transform it into a grapevine, then later raises it under a new identity. It's a traumatic enough experience that Persephone starts to look for ways to sterilize herself permanently rather than risk a repeat.
- In the BoJack Horseman episode " Brrap Brrap Pew Pew", Diane gets pregnant and immediately decides to get an abortion. While she doesn't regret it, she is emotionally fragile before the procedure and sore afterward. In the episode, she wrangles with the emotional baggage of having to manage a client who just embarked on a tone-deaf pro-abortion campaign, while having a conflict with her boss who has been struggling to maintain a pregnancy without miscarrying. Diane also faces off against protestors at the abortion clinic and is forced to jump through ridiculous hoops like watching videos of cute babies and puppies with sad music played over them.