When a TV show's source material is a Venezuelan telanovela, that clearly means it's not exactly a docu-series. The CW adapted a telenovela this season with Jane the Virgin and its basic premise can be difficult to wrap your head around. In case the title didn't tip you off, on the show, Jane is a virgin. She also happens to find out she's pregnant in the pilot. But her conception is less immaculate and more artificial, as it turns out her doctor mistook her for another patient and artificially inseminated her during a routine visit. Even though the show only claims to be based on that aforementioned telenovela, sometimes you can't help but wonder if Jane the Virgin is based on a true story at all, or if anything similar has ever happened.
Somehow, what's most unbelievable about Jane the Virgin is how good it is. Until critics first saw the pilot, I bet many people were expecting a line of bad Virgin Mary jokes. Instead, the pretty wild concept subtly underscores one of the most engaging and emotionally resonant new comedic series of the fall season. So with all of its unexpected resonance, just how realistic is Jane the Virgin's accidental insemination concept in the real world?
Probably the closest the medical community has come to accidentally impregnating a woman is accidentally impregnating a woman with the wrong sperm. In October of this year, a lesbian couple came forward to say that they were suing the sperm bank that provided the sperm for their artificial insemination, because while they had chosen the sperm of a white donor with blonde hair and blue eyes, Jennifer Cramblett was instead accidentally inseminated with the sperm of a black donor. The couple is suing based on the fact that they paid for the sperm of one man, and received the sperm of another. It's yet to be seen if they'll win in court, but it's definitely not a story anything like Jane's.
While artificial insemination is a new enough practice to not have too many documented mix-ups yet, virginal birth has been discussed for centuries. Last year, a study came out that said one in every 200 women (45 of the 7,870 involved in the study) said they had conceived without having vaginal intercourse. There's a long history of claiming immaculate conception once stomach pains prove to be morning sickness, mostly from nuns and teenagers, but notable virgin births (other than the virgin birth, see below) date back as far 1637, when French aristocrat Madeleine d’Auvermont claimed to have given birth after having particularly intimate thoughts about her husband, who she had been away from for four years.
Of course, there's not medical proof of any real immaculate conceptions, but with the steady stream of claims, hey, maybe Jane isn't the only pregnant virgin out there.
The Most Famous Virgin
When I first heard about the Jane the Virgin pilot, I thought, "Oh no... The CW is about to make a show about the birth of a Christ-like figure." Alas, they've chosen to dip into the pools of medical malpractice instead, but the inspiration for devoutly Catholic Jane finding herself adapting to the idea of being pregnant without ever having had sex is clear. Thirty-two percent of the world's population identifies as Christian, which preaches the immaculate conception and birth of Jesus Christ by the Virgin Mary. And while Jane knows exactly how she conceived a baby, her own spiritual grounding is part of what makes the show so unique.
Images: Danny Feld, Greg Gayne (2), The CW