ABC

‘Scandal’ Got So Much Right About The Realities Of Abortion

It's heavy, but in all the right ways.

Thursday night's mid-season finale of "Scandal" was all about the reproductive justice: Junior Senator Mellie Grant's (Bellamy Young) victorious filibuster to save Planned Parenthood's funding was a brief-but-hopeful nod of solidarity to the women's health provider during a pretty scary time, but it was in a more somber moment -- the so damn powerful decision from Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) to terminate her pregnancy -- that really grounded "Baby, It's Cold Outside" as a win for women everywhere.

In an episode where Olivia has had no control -- she's fetching Snickerdoodle recipes for other politician's wives and kept away from situations she totally could have and totally should have #handled -- the scene, just a minute long, and its aftermath deliver one of the most authentic depictions of abortion. Like, ever.

By the time we see the procedure and simultaneously find out about the pregnancy, the decision -- which is entirely Oliva's -- has already been made. There's no agonizing second-thoughts in a waiting room, no time for another character to waltz on screen and moralize it one way or the other. We just see a woman who decided not to carry a pregnancy to term having a medical procedure -- albeit one that can be a deeply personal and immensely difficult experience for many (not all, but many) women -- as Christmas carols play and Papa Pope (Joe Morton) monologues about the "burden" of family.

It's heavy, as "Scandal" tends to be, but in all the right ways.

She comes home and has what could be a game-changing argument with Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) about all of their relationship baggage -- from murderous fathers to power imbalances -- and while the abortion (and all the other factors that led to her decision) obviously remain just underneath those harsh words, she doesn't tell him about it.

This doesn't mean Olivia is detached -- for her, this isn't necessarily a decision devoid of emotion. She storms into the White House, desperate to get her hands on Daddy's Hooch (which notably everyone but Fitz can drink without wincing) and we know that she's going to need some more time to process things, particularly since this break-up seems so much more permanent this time.

This decision isn't sugar-coated or shamed and it absolutely wasn't dropped in as an afterthought for shock value. This story isn't over -- and it shouldn't be.

But that's why we need more scenes like this on TV: We need complex, diverse depictions of abortion stories to show that there isn't just one narrative. We need to see real women making these real decisions and coping, or maybe not coping, with their real emotions. We need to see a world where those decisions are protected and represented fairly and honestly.

And for a moment, as "Silent Night" hauntingly played on, we got that.