'The Walking Dead': Is our favorite zombie show pushing a pro-life agenda?
the long answer:
On Sunday's (Nov. 20) "The Walking Dead," a desperate and confused Lori Grimes (played by Sarah Wayne Callies) downs a handful of something labeled "Morning After Pills" in an attempt to abort a pregnancy already several weeks down the road. And now Erin Gloria Ryan, writing for Jezebel, is accusing the show of spreading "icky morning-after pill myths."
In last week's episode, a character named Lori found out that she was pregnant. She decided to end her pregnancy by sending some guys to raid the nearest pharmacy of the morning after pill, which the show implied would cause an abortion. The two men returned with dozens of blister packs full of wasplike horse pills and a pill bottle labeled "MORNING AFTER PILL." None of this looks anything like actual Plan B; seasoned harlots know that Plan B is two tiny white round pills, like Barbie sized communion wafers, and that they come in a little pastel folder, but I digress.
After they return, Lori thinks about it for awhile before gratefully and voraciously popping the packs open. She proceeds to take like a dozen pills morning after pills, all while crying. She then has dramatic second thoughts and makes herself throw all of them up. Kris Jenner would call her the Indian Giver of abortions.
Not to split hairs, but we think for accuracy's sake it's important to point out that it was not, in fact, two men who went on that pharmacy run, but a man and a woman -- Glenn ( Steven Yeun) and Maggie ( Lauren Cohen). Also, they bring her several blister packs labeled (yes, somewhat goofily) "Morning After Pills" and one large bottle of pre-natal vitamins, just in case.
Anyhow, Ryan argues that the show is misleading viewers since the actual morning after pill isn't capable of inducing an abortion. It's only able to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. That bit is medically correct -- a morning after pill will not induce a miscarriage. Something Lori Grimes may not have known -- or knew and was desperate enough to try anyway (more on that below).
But then Ryan implies that the show is purposefully perpetuating pro-lifer myths and that, hey, the only thing the women on the show do is "cry and cause problems while men fight zombies with guns."
A position we find difficult to believe since one of the show's co-executive producers (and a show creator) is Gale Anne Hurd, a woman responsible for producing movies like "Aliens" and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" and "Aeon Flux" -- all of them movies with strong, kick-butt female leads. And, the statement rings totally false anyway since some of "The Walking Dead's" strongest characters are women -- Lori Grimes (Callies), who will do anything to keep her son safe; Andrea ( Laurie Holden) who is blossoming into a sharp shooter and, on Sunday's episode, joined a growing team of sexually aggressive women in our story; which brings us to Maggie (Cohan) who, staring down the end of the world, matter-of-factly seduces Glenn (Yeun).
Another reason we're not buying it? Robert Kirkman, who wrote the original comic books and also works on the show, doesn't skew pro-life in the comic books. We don't want to spoil anything, but suffice to say that the guy isn't afraid of killing off any character, no matter how tiny.
Lori Grimes is a pregnant woman in a world overrun by death. As she points out to her husband Rick ( Andrew Lincoln), it's kind of a bummer to contemplate bringing a baby into a world in which he or she will probably, sooner or later, become zombie food. So she was totally freaked out and, as can happen when totally freaked, makes some irrational decisions. Did she really believe the morning after pills would abort her pregnancy? We don't think so -- but sometimes out of desperation people will grasp at stupid, misguided ideas.
Did "The Walking Dead" accidentally promote a pro-life agenda? Maybe. On purpose? We doubt it. We're going to go ahead and admit that the handling of the whole abortion attempt was kind of clumsy, but we like Planned Parenthood's take on what happened. Speaking with a PP rep this afternoon, she directed Zap2it to the organization's official reaction to the episode ( posted on the organization's Facebook page), and added that the show's writers may have confused emergency contraception with a medication abortion:
"Another reason why living in a zombie apocalypse is so hard: Last night on the Walking Dead, Lori took the morning-after pill because she wanted to end her pregnancy. But the morning-after pill PREVENTS pregnancy, and won't work if you're already pregnant. Her local Planned Parenthood health center could have helped her explore her options, if it wasn't overrun with zombies."
That's right, it's the zombies' fault.