The controversial scene Bassett is referring to is one in which Pope has an abortion while Silent Night plays in the background. Many people, even Scandal fans, expressed anger and offense towards the episode. Washington seemed unaffected by the backlash, saying…
A lot of the people that may have reacted negatively are probably blocked on my Twitter, because I tend to be a pretty outspoken person when it comes to all kinds of human rights — women’s reproductive rights, immigrants’ rights, workers’ rights, rights for people of color, voting rights. I have no problem with people expressing a difference of opinion … but I do block people who express violence, sexism, racism — that’s inexcusable to me.
Washington expresses that anyone who may have reacted negatively to a preborn human being terminated is likely already blocked on her Twitter. In the next sentence she claims to be outspoken in defending the rights of many people groups. What is wrong with this picture? Washington is stating that she’s proud to defend women, immigrants and people of color because they are humans deserving of rights. As for preborn children, however, they are just ‘choices’ and those who are outspoken in their defense don’t deserve to be heard.
I’m not in support of people who express their opinion in a violent or harassing way. I don’t blame Washington if she’s had to block any one that was threatening her. However, I know for certain that there were many sane, loving people who spoke out against that scene because it was disturbing.
Washington and others can dismiss those voices, but they are valid and matter in our national discussion of abortion. People who hold a pro-life stance are also outspoken for the rights of women, people of color, immigrants and workers. The only difference is we don’t start speaking out for them after they’ve reached a certain age. We see their value and defend their rights from conception. Rights for human beings begin in the womb. What rights can any of us ever attain without the right to life?
During the interview, Bassett mentioned Washington’s current pregnancy. Washington shared small challenges that arise from being pregnant while playing a character who isn’t. During the interview I began to wonder: Why couldn’t Washington’s character Olivia Pope have carried her baby to term? How empowering would it be to see a strong black woman on screen balance motherhood and her career? Washington shared she didn’t write the episode featuring the abortion. She gives all praise to director Shonda Rhimes. Imagine if Rhimes used the character’s pregnancy to encourage adoption or even if she offered more dialogue on the options available to Olivia Pope. Instead of Washington having to hide her pregnancy, imagine if it could have been worked into the script.
Washington shared that when she went to Rhimes with news of her pregnancy, the news was joyfully celebrated. Washington’s pregnancy was never an issue in regards to her job. As someone who works for a non-profit that aids pregnant women, I know how rare and special that is. Many women are afraid to lose their jobs because of their pregnancies and feel pressured to abort. Kerry Washington is in a great position to encourage others with her personal story of being a working mom. It would be amazing to see her use her fame to let abortion-seeking women know they don’t have to pit career against motherhood. Washington said:
I just think it’s important that we remind ourselves that we live in a country where choice is important, and I was grateful to be able to portray a character who makes a choice and doesn’t have shame about it.
We do have choices as women but they are not equal or without consequence. I doubt Olivia Pope’s character will utter another word about her choice — but in reality, many post-abortive women will, because of lasting trauma. Regardless if women regret their decision or celebrate it, the act of unjustly taking innocent life is still the same.
As a pro-life woman of color, I’m proud to defend life at every stage, not the right to have it destroyed. I long for the day when characters on major TV networks fight for civil rights of all humans, regardless of their size.