While abortion in cinema is commonly avoided, a refreshingly realistic female-centred comedy about an abortion story was released in early June in the Unites States, albeit with predictable protest.
Obvious Child directed by Gillian Robespierre,stars cast member of Saturday Night Live Jenny Slate. Slate plays a stand-up comedienne that decides to have an abortion after getting pregnant as the result of a one-night stand with a man that also happens to be an orthodox-Christian. To add further punch to the piece, the abortion is scheduled on Valentine’s Day.
The film's story is a rare approach to abortion, that admittedly some women have to make that choice and it does not need to come with any degree of shame or punishment. The film comes in contrast with popular films such as Juno, Waitress and Knocked up, where despite the pregnancies being unplanned, the woman decides to keep the baby.
Last week, it was reported that the NBC refused to air a trailer for the film because it included a scene where Slate declared her choice to terminate her pregnancy, mentioning the word 'abortion'. Our favourite opinionated indie kid Lena Durham tweeted her disgust and disappointment for the NBC not supporting the film, tweeting that the “NBC refuses to air the trailer for Obvious Child because it mentions abortion and that’s not okay. #StopTheStigma.”
Pro-choice U.S advocacy group Planned Parenthood have since launched a petition against the network refusal of airing the word 'abortion'. The petition states “It's outrageous that a major network would choose to censor mentions about abortion. For far too long, the refusal to talk honestly about abortion has led to increasing stigma around the issue, and it's got to stop.”
In the U.S , 4 in 10 unintended pregnancies end in abortion and almost 3 in 10 women will have an abortion by age 45 according to the Guttmacher Institute. Abortion is clearly not a marginal issue and controversy surrounding Obvious Child, a film that is simply a frank discussion around the issue of abortion, proves that it will continue to be unfairly stigmatised despite its prevalence.