ABC’s Scandal created one of its own Thursday (spoilers follow) with an instantly controversial episode that tackled Planned Parenthood defunding while featuring the drama’s lead character getting an abortion to the tune of “Silent Night.”
Cheered by Planned Parenthood as a bold prime-time statement while simultaneously slammed by the conservative Media Research Council as showing “Hollywood’s moral depravity on full display,” the episode showed Republican Sen. Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) filibustering a bill that would have made Planned Parenthood funding a discretionary item. In another story line, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) has a surprise abortion.
After the episode, Planned Parenthood released this statement: “Tonight, the millions of people who tune into Scandal every Thursday night learned that our rights to reproductive health care are under attack. Never one to shy away from critical issues, [showrunner] Shonda Rhimes used her platform to tell the world that if Planned Parenthood lost funding for contraception counseling, STI testing, cancer screenings, and safe, legal abortion—millions of people would suffer. And this episode wasn’t the first time one of Rhimes’ characters had an abortion, yet tonight we saw one of our favorite characters make the deeply personal decision that one in three women have made in their lifetime. We applaud Shonda Rhimes tonight—and every Thursday night—for proving that when women are telling our stories, the world will pause and watch. We just hope those in Congress—and throughout the nation—who are steadfast on rolling the clock back on reproductive health care access are taking note.”
The MRC came out with its own reaction on Friday: “Hollywood’s liberal values permeate movies and television. Last night’s episode of ABC’s Scandal was pretty much an hour-long advertisement for Planned Parenthood. In the most disturbing scene, the main character has an abortion to ‘Silent Night’ (a hymn celebrating the birth of Jesus) playing in the background. This is Hollywood’s moral depravity on full display.”
In the episode, Grant’s filibuster succeeded; the spending bill wasn’t passed and Planned Parenthood funding remained intact. Declared Grant, “All of you who stuck with me to the bitter end should be proud because of your sacrifice, millions of women across this nation get to enjoy their holidays without having to worry if they will have access to proper care in the coming year.”
As for Olivia’s abortion, fans didn’t realize she was pregnant until last night’s episode. The scene in the hospital showed Olivia’s legs in stirrups as a doctor attends to her while “Silent Night” is played over the scene. Olivia then returns to the White House and begins to drink.
The show’s cast weighed in on the episode via Twitter, as did Rhimes:
Maybe Mellie’s doing it for the millions of women who count on Planned Parenthood. Who knows? #Scandal— Portia de Rossi (@portiaderossi) November 20, 2015