Hollywood has long been reluctant to offer realistic depictions of what it’s like to end a pregnancy, despite the fact that roughly 1 in 3 American women will have an abortion before age 45. When it does summon the courage to address the issue at all, Tinseltown has too often distorted the facts or reverted to misogynist stereotypes — like the helpless damsel or the hysterical mistress. That’s not to say we haven’t made progress since 1928’s Road to Ruin, one of the first films to include an abortion storyline. In that film, a teenager gets an abortion and subsequently, as a form of cosmic punishment, is mysteriously burned alive in bed.
From the laughably absurd to the refreshingly frank, here some of the best and worst portrayals of abortion on film and TV.