SPOILER: This article contains spoilers from season 3 of 13 Reasons Why. In order to properly analyze the scene from episode 2, it is necessary to discuss parts of the plot.
Season 3 of 13 Reasons Why was released on Netflix at the end of August. Every season, this show creates controversy for a number of reasons. Of course, this season they found a new way to stir up conversation.
In episode 2, it is revealed that Chloe sought an abortion after she found out she was pregnant with Bryce’s child. Zach becomes involved in supporting Chloe. In fact, he accompanies her to her abortion appointments.
Many conservative outlets are condemning the show for “promoting” abortion, while liberal outlets are championing it for “normalizing” abortion.
While there were many things that could have been done better, I didn’t find that the episode “promoted” nor “normalized” abortion. And as a pro-life woman, who has spent many afternoons at abortion clinics and pro-life pregnancy centers, I was actually pleasantly surprised with the generally unbiased approach that the producers and directors decided to take with the scene.
What was actually done well:
Chloe confided in Zach, and had him drive her to the abortion facility
It’s very common for women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy to confide in someone who isn’t the father of the child. Oftentimes, that person will accompany the expectant mother to the abortion facility for their appointments.
Chloe went to a pregnancy center before the abortion clinic
While this isn’t the case with every woman, many women do visit a pregnancy center first before having an abortion. I volunteered at a local pregnancy center for three years while in college. Ielt that the depiction of the pregnancy center was fairly accurate. When Chloe enters the pregnancy center, she is given an ultrasound. Then, she is offered literature about California state abortion laws and options like parenting, adoption and abortion, all of which would be provided at a real pregnancy center. Chloe comes to realize that the facility doesn’t provide abortions. She becomes angry when the consultant at the facility tells her she and her baby can “go on to live full and wonderful lives.”
Chloe asks Zach if she would be a good mother
Women facing unplanned pregnancies, even those who ultimately decide on an abortion, often imagine what their life would be like if they had decided to parent. It isn’t uncommon at all for a woman to regret her abortion, or daydream about what she would be like as a mother. Zach, a supportive friend, tells her she would be an amazing mother, “Chloe, if that’s what you want to do, I’ll help you. We could tell everyone that it’s mine. I’ll raise it with you. I’ll help.”
Chloe weighs her options
She doesn’t immediately decide to seek an abortion. In fact, she considers her options, and the consequences of the choices she could make. She notes that if she became a mother, she would have to give up cheerleading, likely wouldn’t be able to attend college out-of-state and probably wouldn’t be able to be a full-time student.
Zach tells her she’s making the right choice
“You would tell me that no matter what I decided,” Chloe remarks and Zach agrees that he would tell her she’s making the right choice regardless. Like many people who help a friend through an unplanned pregnancy, Zach doesn’t want to come across as not caring about his friend or not being supportive. As a high schooler, he may not yet have an opinion on abortion. Either way, he wants to remain friends with this woman and love her through her abortion, so he’s a bit unsure of how to proceed. If a friend of yours is considering an abortion, check out our Guide To Helping A Friend Who’s Considering Abortion.
Chloe attends a consultation appointment first, and the actual abortion appointment a few days later
34 states require that women are counseled to before receiving an abortion. 27 of those states require a waiting period between the counseling appointment and their actual abortion appointment. In many other media portrayals of abortion, the woman goes into an abortion clinic for the first time and has the abortion that very same day. This isn’t likely how it would go down, unless they were living in Alaska, Montana, or a handful of other states. California, where the show takes place, does not have a mandatory waiting period, but many abortion facilities think it’s good practice, and require it anyway. Not to mention that these facilities are busy. Oftentimes, they may not have a doctor on hand to perform an abortion the same day as the consultation.
The nurse goes over details of the procedure during the consultation
During the consultation, Chloe is asked to explain the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy. She tells the nurse that she and Bryce had sex without a condom. Then, she had missed a few days of her birth control pill. She also tells the nurse she is 8 weeks along. Finally, the nurse explains to her how a first trimester abortion works. There are several types of first trimester abortions, but for the purposes of the show, they went with a Vacuum Aspiration Abortion which can be performed up to the 16th week of pregnancy. “We will take your blood pressure and administer a very mild sedative, okay? It will help relax you. The doctor will come in and insert a very small tube into your uterus. It is connected to a suction device. That suction device will dislodge and remove the uterine content.”
Pro-life sidewalk counselors are present when Chloe is entering the abortion facility
Anyone who has been to an abortion facility, driven past one, or sidewalk counseled, knows that pro-life people are often present to offer support, advice, or simply to pray for the men and women entering and leaving the building. There are several pro-life sidewalk counselors shown when Chloe is going in for her abortion. Some are yelling, others are praying.
Chloe appears to be in pain during the abortion
At the end of the day, an abortion is still a major surgery. With only a mild sedative, it isn’t going to be painless. Many women experience pain and future complications from their abortions.
Chloe changes schools following her abortion
Many women experience depression and anxiety following their abortion. Others simply want a change of pace. Chloe decides not to return to Liberty High for the next school year following her abortion. This is not an uncommon response.
What needed work:
One of the Sidewalk Counselors at the abortion clinic is dressed as a clinic escort
A clinic escort is a pro-choice volunteer who wears a brightly colored vest. The escort helps the woman get from her car to the inside of the abortion facility. Sometimes, sidewalk counselors and protestors break laws and get close to the woman without her consent. These escorts are meant to protect the women from being approached by strangers. In this scene, one of the sidewalk counselors is dressed like a clinic escort. She walked directly up to Chloe, acting as though she was a pro-choice escort. Zach says the sidewalk counselors shouldn’t be there because it’s already hard enough, and she says “well it should be hard. Killing is a sin.” This is illegal. If this ever happened at an abortion facility in real life, the woman would likely be arrested. There are also no real clinic escorts present in this scene, which seems unusual.
One of the Sidewalk Counselors gives Chloe a model of an aborted baby
Sidewalk Counselors get a bad rap for being crazy, and using scare tactics. While there are many protestors who may not have been trained in sidewalk counseling, it seems the directors and producers only added this in to make it seem like the pro-life people are the ones who are doing something wrong, rather than Chloe.
Bryce’s mother tells Chloe that Bryce shouldn’t be a father
Even though Chloe never discloses to Bryce or his mother that she’s pregnant, at dinner one evening Bryce’s mother tells Chloe that she was raised by a bad man, and escaped him by marrying another. She says neither her father nor husband were fit to be fathers. Bryce’s mother believes that Bryce is even less suited to be a father. Women who are facing unplanned pregnancies are in a very vulnerable state, where a statement like that could drive them to have an abortion even if they weren’t initially planning to. This played out trope used by the left in media, assumes that the father would have to be involved in the child’s life if Chloe had chosen life.
Not much is shown following Chloe’s abortion
Most women experience heavy bleeding, fevers and abdominal pain for the next few days or weeks following their abortion. Maybe the writers just decided to make Chloe a statistical anomaly. In real life, it would be much more likely that she would experience some symptoms and pain after her abortion. Anyone would after an invasive surgery. Chloe returns to school the next day and seems to have no further complications from the abortion.
13 Reasons Why certainly wasn’t the first piece of media to tackle abortion, and likely won’t be the last. While there were some obvious tropes thrown in by the leftist writers and producers, I was happy to see that the producers did aim for a fairly realistic depiction of what a teenager experiencing an unplanned pregnancy would actually go through. The conversation surrounding the episode wasn’t all positive, but anything that gets people talking about abortion, especially one that makes it out to be a somber experience, like in the case of this episode, is a win for the pro-life movement in my book.