A character in the Amazon Prime show “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” was revealed to have undergone an abortion during the season five opener.
In season four, Mei Lin, who is played by Stephanie Hsu, was pregnant with Joel Maisel’s baby. Maisel was thrilled, and planned to marry her and start a family. Lin, however, had other plans; in the season five premiere, she told Maisel that she was leaving him to pursue a medical residency in Chicago, and that they would not be having a baby together — insinuating that she had an abortion.
“Mei always represented to us sort of weirdly like the generation right after Midge, like that generation of going into the ‘60s, of girls starting to step back — with the advent of the pill — step back a little bit and started to think a little bit more big picture rather than the immediacy of like, husband, children, this is the road, a little bit [more] like what could the road be?” Amy Sherman-Palladino, the showrunner, told the Hollywood Reporter. “We wanted her to be a very smart, sharp and ambitious girl who wants to be a doctor at a time where there simply were not women doctors.”
At the time, abortion was not legal in New York; the show is set in the 1960s, before Roe v. Wade had been decided in 1973.
The show did not portray Lin as having been harmed by the illegal abortion, and despite claims from abortion advocates, women did not die by the thousands before Roe; most illegal abortions, in fact, were committed by trained physicians when women came to them surreptitiously, by way of a practitioner’s back alley entrance — thus coining the term “back alley abortion.”
What is less accurate, however, is the insinuation that a character — even a woman in the 1960s — could not have been a mother and become a doctor. Women are capable of accomplishing anything they want to, including motherhood, and it is not empowering to argue that women need abortion to be successful in their careers.
In fact, many pioneering female physicians throughout history were mothers, such as Elizabeth Blackwell, Rebecca Lee Crumpler, Mary Putnam Jacobi, Nobel Prize winner Gerty Theresa Cori, and more. Motherhood does not hold women back from achieving their dreams. Women do not need abortion to be successful — not in the 1960s, and not today.
Did you know that as little as $10 a month is enough to reach more than 3,000 people with the truth about abortion that no one else is telling them? Click here to start saving lives 365 days a year.