ABC Family Tackled the 'Taboo' Late-Term Abortion With Saddened Lesbians

“ABC Family” is a network that isn’t for the safe, “family-friendly” shows. On the contrary, they love edgy shows like any other network. They created “The Fosters” to show a positive image of a lesbian couple – one black, one white – and now the lesbians have had an abortion – but only to save the life of the mother.

Margaret Lyons of New York magazine’s Vulture blog was impressed in a post headlined "How 'The Fosters' Tackled TV's Biggest Taboo":

On last night's episode, Lena developed life-threatening pre-eclampsia, and her doctor told her the condition was getting worse and endangering both her and her baby. After a wrenching conversation with her wife Stef and an even more wrenching one with her mother, Lena decided to terminate her pregnancy at 20 weeks. The show kinda-sorta glossed over the fact that that's an abortion, but it is. Everyone was very sad, but ultimately, the decision to survive and parent her five children seemed like the right one for Lena and the Fosters.

Terminating a pregnancy is not inherently tragic — women have a variety of abortion experiences — but for Lena (and Stef), this was devastating. She really wanted this baby; she'd dreamed about this baby and already fought with the baby's sperm donor over parental rights....

In general, the show has a "you'll be surprised how things work out" central premise: Think you want your biological parents to stay married? You'll be surprised — your dad's a frequently irresponsible alcoholic, but your mom's new wife is actually the shiiiiit and is an excellent parent. Think every foster home is a temporary abuse facility? You'll be surprised — these people are great and are gonna adopt you and love you like crazy, with the warmth and structure children apparently crave. Think you want to have a biological child? You'll be surprised — you, uh, will have to terminate that pregnancy, and grapple with the fragility of all human life and relationships, and you'll confront the built-in heartbreak that is inherent to parenting. Sorry, Lena....


Abortion is something we don't see a lot of on TV in general, even though one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. I don't need every show to be a perfect statistical depiction of the modern condition, but it's nice every once in a while to see some acknowledgement of the lived experiences of women. It's not just fancy prestige premium-cable shows that examine the occasional brutal tragedies of life. Come for the earnest teen drama, stay for the progressive politics, and then stay even longer for the deeply felt human drama.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis