The Frictionless Experience: ‘Jane the Virgin’ Does Abortion (Spoilers)

The Frictionless Experience: ‘Jane the Virgin’ Does Abortion (Spoilers) October 25, 2016

jane-the-virgin2New York Magazine‘s The Cut blog heaps praise on The CW’s “Jane the Virgin” over finally showing a character having an abortion — baby gone, yay! — after not having Jane have one (which would have made for a pretty short series).

If you’ve never watched, the show, an Americanized version of a Latin American telenovela, it began with a virginal Catholic Latina, Jane, who accidentally is impregnated through artificial insemination, who decides to have the baby. Romantic — and other — complications ensue.

Early on, viewers learned that Jane’s mother, Xiomara, considered aborting her when she became pregnant at 16, but decided against it, to the delight of her very Catholic mother.

As seen in Oct. 24 episode, when Xiomara gets pregnant again after a one-night stand with someone other than the man she loves — apparently she hasn’t learned much since she was a teen — she goes a different way.

From The Cut:

Some might think that Jane the Virgin is an anti-abortion show. After all, the premiere centered around Jane Villanueva discovering she’s pregnant after an accidental artificial insemination and deciding to have the baby.When Jane was considering what to do, her very Catholic grandmother, Alba, told her she’d asked Jane’s mother, Xiomara, to have an abortion when she got pregnant with Jane at 16. Alba said she “thanked God” that Xo kept the baby. Jane and her family also discuss the possibility of abortion later in her pregnancy, when she has an abnormal sonogram.

But, on last night’s episode, we learned that Xo had an abortion. I say “learned” because we don’t see Xo hemming and hawing over the decision or visiting a doctor’s office. After Alba asks about a doctor’s bill that Xo said was for the stomach flu, a narrator simply clarifies that Xo had a medication abortion that causes stomach cramps. Executive producer Jennie Snyder Urman told Vanity Fair that this story line was an opportunity to balancethe show’s depiction of women’s reproductive choice


Snyder Urman told The Hollywood Reporter. “Abortion is an important thing to be talking about, to normalize, to not stigmatize, and to dramatize.”

Snyder Urman said to Vanity Fair (which thought the storyline was “perfect”):

“For every woman, abortion is a different choice, and they go through different emotions,” Snyder-Urman said. “I’ve seen a lot of the torment and the torture of making that choice or considering that choice, but what I hadn’t seen is that some women who make that choice are relieved.”

Snyder-Urman consulted with Planned Parenthood to get statistics—including on the Latino community’s points of view on abortion—and find out what kinds of portrayals the organization commonly sees on TV. Snyder-Urman said that polls and research indicated the majority of respondents thought whether or not to get an abortion should be a decision made between family, faith, and doctor—and that even where people don’t agree, they believe it’s important to respect a woman’s decision.

Thankfully, there are dissenting voices, and a regular “Jane” viewer at The Federalist objects:

Sadly, I think Hollywood’s more progressive ideology is leaning in here. The fact that Xiomara’s abortion is handled so lightly by romantic interest Rogelio, daughter Jane, and Jane’s new husband Michael makes this clear. To them, this abortion is nothing. They’re more interested in figuring out how to hide it from Xiomara’s mother Magda than they are in considering the larger moral, personal, and emotional implications of the act.

There’s no moment in which anyone asks Xiomara, “Are you okay?” No one so much as frowns when the topic comes up in conversation. Xiomara and her supporting cast of characters don’t just talk about the abortion encouragingly—they talk about it lightly, as if it were a head cold to be gotten rid of.

When Magda does find out about Xiomara’s abortion, she is incensed. But she isn’t heartbroken. She never refers to a “baby”—indeed, the show is careful to avoid any child-related terminology in relation to Xiomara’s act. Magda fits all the stereotypes a progressive writing about traditional Catholics could hope for: she’s angry, condemnatory, and even throws in a reference to “hell.”

There’s a tech term — “the frictionless experience” — which refers to the user’s desire to move seamlessly from one app or task to another, to move their media around easily and without interruption. It seems that Hollywood now wants to make the death of a child equally hassle-free.

It’s a heartbreaking moment when modern media celebrates the fact that Jane’s sibling didn’t get the chance to live and breathe, and even sadder that the woman at the center of it doesn’t feel a twinge of guilt over ending her child’s life.

A unique, irreplaceable human being, beloved by God, is probably flushed down the toilet, and no one mourns.

But hey, at least they didn’t play “Silent Night” over the top if it, like ABC’s “Scandal” did.

Image: Courtesy The CW

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