Note – this post is in reference to the television show, True Blood, which centers around both the supernatural (vampires, witches, fairies), mysteries, murder, and the ongoing war of good and evil…whatever they are. Recently, the writers gave Arlene the (human) waitress, a pregnancy – fathered by her ex (who is both dead and evil), and a fiance (who is neither, and looks forward to the arrival of a child (knowing it is not biologically his). Certain that the child will be ‘evil’ like his father, Arlene is facing the decision of whether to live by her anti-choice rhetoric and carry the pregnancy to term, or terminate it.
I have watched along with the rest of America to see where the writers of True Blood would go with this pregnancy plot line. It has been fascinating to watch Arlene’s resolve to carry the pregnancy to term and stand firm in the face of an offer from a co-worker to take her to a clinic – where she could have a safe medical procedure to terminate the pregnancy, but falter when the same co-worker offered an alternative to the clinic. Somehow, to Arlene, it was preferable to go to the middle of the woods with another waitress who we can presume has little to no medical qualifications, ingest some ‘tea’ while standing in a circle of salt and rely on ‘the goddess’ to take care of her problem.
If it has the same result – ending the pregnancy – then what difference does it make the method that is used? The difference is that while there is an extreme anti-choice taboo that prevented Arlene, and the real women like her from making the conscious decision to drive to a clinic or doctor’s office and say, “I need an abortion,” it is somehow easier to induce a miscarriage when it is wrapped up in ritual and invokes the name of the god or goddess of your choice. Somehow despite swallowing poison, she still was able to tell herself that it was up to a higher power, and by not taking ownership of her decision, she was able to escape the self imposed guilt.
There are some who might shrug and say that to choose to induce a miscarriage with herbs and rituals is just one of the choices that women have, and that to truly be pro-choice means to accept that. If adding rituals or prayers, meditating or any other ritual helps a woman make the undeniably intense decision of whether to carry a pregnancy to term, then I commend her for knowing that about herself, but consider this – in the case of Arlene, her do-it-your-self abortion made her bleed, but the episode ended with a smiling doctor telling her not to worry – she’s still pregnant (and yes, she is horrified to hear that, not relieved). If she had gone to see that doctor in the first place, she would not have been. I hesitate, as a result to see this do-it-yourself faux-bortion as a real ‘choice’ so much as a reason that abortion in a safe medical-professional-provided setting should be de-stigmatized.
What do you think will happen next? What should happen? I’m still hoping for a positive abortion clinic cameo myself.