‘PLL: Original Sin’ Missed an Opportunity to Depict Abortion

There are very few shows that depict abortion. I’ve seen three: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Euphoria. Two of these shows are from Shonda Rhimes. I’ve read that Jane the Virgin, Shrill, You’re the Worst and 13 Reasons Why also have abortion storylines. Private Practice and The Bold Type have characters who have had abortions but don’t show them going through them. Given the number of shows, present and past, this is a sad commentary on our pop culture and how few showrunners are willing to tell this story. According to the Guttmacher Institute, one in four women have an abortion by age 45. This makes it pretty common in life, but why don’t TV shows talk about it more? Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin had the perfect opportunity to write this into the show, especially with other traumas the characters are going through. Spoilers below.

Bailee Madison as Imogen Adams on Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
The writers could have given Imogen’s character an abortion storyline.

After watching the promo, I wondered why Imogen Adams (Bailee Madison) was pregnant. I continued to ask myself that question when watching the first three episodes. It’s become more apparent why the writers made her pregnant. She and Tabby Hayworthe (Chandler Kinney) were both raped. Neither of them knows who the rapist was. Imogen’s experience turned out even worse because she ended up pregnant. But wouldn’t this be an excellent chance to depict abortion? Being raped is one of many reasons to get one. Both Tabby and Imogen are dealing with the trauma of their assaults. Whether or not they depict Imogen giving up her baby is yet to be known. Mouse Honrada (Malia Pyles) and Zaria (Faran Bryant) (shout out to Faran for owning her body after her mom made her get an unnecessary surgery!) are also dealing with their own traumas. The writers are already dealing with so many complex traumas. Imogen having an abortion would mix right in with that.

Getting pregnant after being raped is possible — especially when many women don’t report it or get checked out immediately. However, I’m not sure what purpose it serves for the story to have Imogen pregnant. For the most part, her being pregnant doesn’t come up. It’s just there staring in your face. I see no reason why the writers couldn’t have had her have an abortion. Euphoria has a lot going on in its show and was able to create that storyline. It was about a young woman that made a mistake and didn’t want it to affect her future. In this case, it was a woman that was raped. With so many women being sexually assaulted, it is good that the writers are depicting that, but what about the other aspect of it? The side where women are getting abortions because they don’t want to carry the baby of their attacker?

Bailee Madison as Imogen Adams and Chandler Kinney as Tabby Hayworthe on Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin
Both these young women are dealing with the trauma of being raped.

Imogen did panic after her mom died and went to the nurse’s office and asked for an abortion. Unfortunately, it was way too late at this point. It was clearly an option for her character. Other than the nurse and this week with Tabby’s mom, Sidney Hayworthe (Sharon Leal), not many people have asked Imogen what she wants to do about the baby. It’s almost an afterthought — granted, a lot is going on with A, and how often did the original liars deal with life stuff other than A and boyfriends? But this PLL is weaving trauma that’s not involved with A into the storyline. So it’s more prime to deal with those kinds of issues.

I’m still loving PLL: Original Sin. And this is not a critique of the show overall, but it’s a disappointment that the writers didn’t take the opportunity to depict abortion. There have been calls for more writers to tell these stories. There is so much positional when telling this story since women get abortions for many reasons. It could be related to health. They don’t have the money to raise the baby or another baby. They made a mistake when they were young. They don’t want to have kids. A woman doesn’t need to justify her reason, but telling these stories will help destigmatize abortions and help people understand what a difficult choice this is and why all women should have the right to choose.

If you are seeking an abortion or want to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose, go to Planned Parenthood for more information on how to access an abortion and help.

Mandy Carr

Editor and Founder, Primetime Addiction

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