For a show that has definitely had its groundbreaking moments, Scandal is definitely delivering on the Season 5 midseason finale. Kerry Washington promised us on Twitter that this was the episode you'd want to watch live, and she was absolutely right. Because in a completely unexpected moment, Olivia had an abortion on Scandal , and although it was an incredibly controversial move by the show and Shondaland, it was also a truly awesome one.
Of course, abortion is something that has been alluded to on TV before, but this is one of the first times it's been shown so openly on network television — especially in a clinic. One minute, Mellie was kicking some serious butt in a congressional hearing as she conducted her filibuster to save Planned Parenthood, and the next, Olivia was lying on an operating table, and the procedure had begun. It was a quiet scene that lasted only a minute or two, but that was enough.
As an audience, we had no idea she was pregnant, and we had no insight into her thought process between finding out she was pregnant and deciding to get an abortion. All we knew is that she made her choice, and carried it out rather unceremoniously. Because for Olivia, that's what it was: Her choice, and she didn't justify it. And more importantly, she didn't have to — just like she didn't have to tell Fitz that she was pregnant, which she obviously chose not to do shortly before ending their relationship.
For Olivia the character, it only highlighted her bravery. And for Scandalas a whole? Having the female lead of such a popular show have an abortion on screen was such a powerful, important moment, and even though it just happened, I can see it having a bigger impact on TV in the future.
Well done, Shonda Rhimes! How cool would it be if this one scene set a new precedent for how a woman's right to choose translates into television? My fingers are crossed.
Image: Greg Gayne/ABC