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My Turn: A unique take on women’s sexuality and abortion

Jenny Slate, the star of "Obvious Child," arrives at a screening of the film last month in Los Angeles.

Jenny Slate, the star of "Obvious Child," arrives at a screening of the film last month in Los Angeles.

This summer, there’s a film offering a refreshing change from the regular blockbuster, action-movie fare – and it is challenging how the entertainment industry approaches a personal and complex topic. It marks an exciting major turning point in how the entertainment industry portrays women’s sexuality, pregnancy, and abortion.

In quick summary, Obvious Child is a hilarious and honest story about Donna Stern, played by actor/comedian Jenny Slate, who gets dumped, fired and impregnated all in time for Valentine’s Day. She has an abortion at a Planned Parenthood health center – talking with family, friends and even her one-night stand about her decision. She isn’t ashamed. She makes the decision that is right for her – without stigma and without judgment.

We’ve never really seen a character like Donna Stern in a Hollywood summer film, even though millions of women all across the country will identify with her story.

The fact is that abortion is one of the most common and safest medical procedures in America. Despite that, honest portrayals are extremely rare in film and television. In the rare instance when Hollywood does show a woman who has an abortion, she is often frightened, endangered, ashamed or judged because of her decision.

Even seemingly forward-thinking comedies, such as Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up and Diablo Cody’s Juno, have avoided honest discussions of abortion as a viable option for young women facing an unintended pregnancy.

That’s why Obvious Child is so important – not just because it shows a woman deciding to have an abortion but because it shows her as a full and complete person making the serious decision to end a pregnancy and still having a full and fun life. She doesn’t take her decision to end her pregnancy lightly, and she isn’t traumatized by her decision.

The reality is that millions of women face unplanned pregnancy each year. Many, especially young women, feel alone or have questions.

As a provider of the full range of reproductive health care for women, it’s important to Planned Parenthood that every woman have support and accurate information about all of her options, and we work hard to make sure women can make their own medical decisions and not face stigma because of them.

Nobody does more to prevent unplanned pregnancy rates than Planned Parenthood.

At our six health centers in New Hampshire, we provide reproductive health care to more than 14,000 Granite Staters.

We’re a trusted source of information and health care to one in five women in the U.S. who walks into our doors for everything from family planning and counseling, lifesaving cancer screenings, and testing and treatments for sexually transmitted infections.

One film won’t change how women are viewed by society and the entertainment industry, but it can help challenge stigma and change the conversation.

A woman’s decision about her pregnancy should be respected and valued, and a film as refreshingly real as this one should be celebrated.

(Meagan Gallagher is the president/CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.)

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