The television show “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” has been off the air for nine years, but legendary heroine Buffy Summers lives on in comic book form, and just like the character Sarah Michele Gellar portrayed for seven years, she has serious battles to wage. Her latest toe-to-toe isn’t with one of the Hell Mouth’s demons, but with herself, and her decision of whether or not to have an abortion.
ThinkProgress’ Alyssa Rosenberg passes on word that a forthcoming edition of Dark Horse Comics’ “Buffy Season 9″ series features Buffy having an abortion after getting mysteriously pregnant while blackout drunk. It’s still unclear what exactly happened to lead to this inconvenient conception, or who the father may be, but Buffy knows she’s in no position to be with child. And Buffy creator Joss Whedon does, too.
Whedon, executive producer or something of the comic book, told Entertainment Weekly there was no way in his mind Buffy could have a baby and that he wanted to make clear via the character that unprepared mothers, mostly teenaged mothers, should know they have choices. And that our society as a whole needs to stay actively saying, “Yes, it’s okay to get an abortion.”
Here, because they’re worth reading, is the full excerpt of Whedon’s explanation:
EW: Did you always know that she would be getting an abortion, or did you ever contemplate the notion that she would keep the baby?
JW: No. I think strongly that teen pregnancy and young people having babies when they are not emotionally, financially, or otherwise equipped to take care of them, is kind of glorified in our media right now. You know, things like Secret Life [of an American Teenager] and Juno and Knocked Up – even if they pretend to deal with abortion, the movies don’t even say the word “abortion.” It’s something that over a third of American women are going to decide to have to do in their lives. But people are so terrified that no one will discuss the reality of it — not no one, but very few popular entertainments, even when they say they’re dealing with this issue, they don’t, and won’t. It’s frustrating to me.
I don’t think Buffy should have a baby. I don’t think Buffy can take care of a baby. I agree with Buffy. It’s a very difficult decision for her, but she made a decision that so many people make and it’s such a hot button issue with Planned Parenthood under constant threat and attack right now. A woman’s right to choose is under attack as much as it’s ever been, and that’s a terrible and dangerous thing for this country. I don’t usually get soap box-y with this, but the thing about Buffy is all she’s going through is what women go through, and what nobody making a speech, holding up a placard, or making a movie is willing to say.
Whedon’s right: abortion should discussed far more openly in today’s society, especially popular culture, where a fair majority of American girls and young women get their information and relatable examples. Rosenberg wishes Whedon had gone one step further by not simply discussion right to choose, but the alternatives to having a child, like going to college, traveling Europe and the other frivolous, character-building endeavors.
“It’s not easy to glamorize abstinence for a mass audience, but it is possible to talk up good grades and the opportunities that college, travel, and career bring along with them,” she writes. “We need pop culture to stand up not just for the right to choose, but to emphasize all the adventures you can have if you finish your education and find a fulfilling job.” Well, with job hiring for recent graduates in the toilet, that may not be the most convincing argument. But, then again, maybe the stagnant economy and lackluster job market will be discouragement enough. That’s the case with adults. Teen pregnancy, however, is also down.
Teen pregnancy rates fell to 7% in 2008, almost a historic low. Birthrate is down to 4% and abortions are at only 1.8%, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health nationwide. I don’t know what it is, but something is turning teens off to unsafe sex. Maybe it’s all those pregnancy shows Whedon mentioned?
Anyway, the latest issue of “Buffy Season 9:” “On Your Own, Part I” went on sale this week.
Note on the headline: the use of “slay” is not to imply a pro-life position or that I think a less-than-three-month fetus qualifies as a human life. Let me make that clear.