Spoiler Alert if you watch Battlestar Galactica (BSG) this talks about scenes up to the end of the 2nd season.
My boyfriend has me watching BSG with him and up until now, I’ve really enjoyed it. BSG is about a war between humans and their machine creations, the Cylons. In the first Cylon War, the cylons effectively gained independence from their human creators. The humans in question are members of the 12 colonies, named after the 12 star signs (Caprica, Gemina, etc), each with their own planet in the same star system. In the show, Earth is talked about in the scriptures but nobody is sure it actually exists. Decades after the first Cylon War, the cylons attack humans and set of nuclear bombs on each of the 12 planets, wiping out all but 50,000 humans who escape on a fleet of star ships. The Fleet, lead by the Battlestar Galactica, begins running from a persistent cylon attack.
We are at the end of the second season and the topic of abortion came up. Basically, a young woman was a stowaway onto the Galactica because she needed an abortion. She was from Gemina, a religious faction of the Colony where abortion was illegal and women/children [from the dialogue I couldn’t be sure if it was just women, are all children] are property of their parents. The President had fought her entire career for women’s rights and it was pointed out to her that if the current situation continued with the number of deaths and low birth rate, in 18 years the human race would be extinct. She then makes an announcement and makes it a criminal offence to interfere with the birth of a child. Effectively she makes abortion illegal. You can tell as she is making the announcement that she is very torn by this decision but in the end she decides that the survivability of the human race is more important than personal rights. Women become incubators and that is their only value.
It was at this point that I walked away. I really enjoy BSG but this episode and current path of the show really upset me. I fight constantly for pro-choice ideals and this show has some amazing feminist characters (a number of women in high-powered positions, including the president and for a time, an Admiral), which is part of the reason why I love it. But at the same time, I have a really hard time continuing to watch it with this current direction. I almost feel as if I continue to watch BSG, I am doing so in direct opposition of my activism. I feel as if I can’t be truly pro-choice if I watch an anti-choice show. Now as my boyfriend points out, I didn’t finish the episode and didn’t wait for this to play out. I suppose I have to assume that if the writers/producers/etc. write such strong female characters, they are unlikely to write a blatantly anti-choice show.
I have since returned to watch it. The Vice-President announces his intention to run for president in the upcoming election on a pro-abortion stance. It’s totally a political move and after the episode the topic doesn’t come up again. Still, I found the episode very bothersome.
Abortion comes up from time to time in TV and often the character seeking the abortion steers away from it for one reason or another. I know many of us have complaints that abortion rarely actually occurs on TV. In BSG the topic came up twice: once in the context of forcing an enemy woman to abort (never happened) and second this woman. She was allowed to abort because it occurred before the law change, but we just hear about it after the fact. I do appreciate that there was dialogue on the abortion issue. The leader of Gemina is clearly opposed and she (I told you there were a lot of strong female characters) fights with the President about abortion. I will be interested to see if it is ever raised again.
All in all, I highly recommend BSG. The President is a woman, going from Education Minister to President when she becomes the highest-ranking minister alive after the attack. The Admiral of the Pegasus is a woman and is the highest-ranking military officer. The top pilot of the Battlestar Galactica (military ship the show is named for) is a woman. These are the first 3 that come to mind but there are many more. This would be one of the best feminist shows in modern times in my opinion, which makes how the issue of abortion is handled that much more important.
How do you approach TV shows and movies that are in direct opposition of your pro-choice beliefs? Do you watch them?