Abortion-related comedy as a political ‘weapon’ on the rise in UK and US

The protagonist of Netflix's comedy-drama 'Sex Education' just before she has an abortion.

An article on the BBC makes the case that abortion related comedy is on the rise and can be used as a means to advance pro-abortion politics.

The author suggests that the growth in abortion related comedy arises from the increase in abortion related political activity. This year, for example, the Parliament in Westminster voted to impose abortion on Northern Ireland, and abortion has exploded as one of the principle dividing lines in American politics.

As the abortion debate goes on the across the Western world, the author argues that “comedy is being used as a weapon.”

Making her case, the author says that the subject of the abortion jokes is not abortion itself but those “who don’t respect the rights of the individual [to have an abortion],” and goes on to document the growth in abortion related comedy both in the UK and US, through theatre, television and film.

At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for example, a number of comedians, both from the US and the UK, make jokes about abortion or even centre comedy sketches around the topic. This year, one comedian, Jena Friedman performed the show called ‘Miscarriage of Justice’ at the Festival which contains a satire on the Roe vs Wade decision which made abortion legal throughout the US.

“I could do a whole show about abortion… I’m trying to find humour in stuff that I don’t find funny” Friedman said.

Another comedian at the Festival, Tiff Stevenson, performs a show which opens with her “origin story” of having an abortion at 17. At the same time, in A Womb of One’s Own, a comic play by Claire Rammelkamp, four identically dressed women act (and dance) out her experience of having an abortion as a student.

As abortion-related comedy is on the rise in theatre, it is also growing on Netflix and television.

American stand-up, Michelle Wolf, performed a ‘salute to abortion’ in her Netflix show ‘The Break’, in which – dressed up in a stars-and-stripes leotard – she throws handfuls of glitter into the air and yells “God bless abortions and God bless America!” The Break was not renewed for a second season.

Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’ also contains a string of off-the-cuff jokes about abortion. Abortion as a subject of humour is also found in film, most notably in the 2014 comedy-drama, Obvious Child.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK Catherine Robinson said:

“ONS and Department of Health figures show that almost 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in abortion. This is clearly not a funny matter but deeply distressing and sad. The growth of abortion-related ‘comedy’ is a naked attempt to normalise a procedure which so many women find deeply traumatic.”

“Despite the growth in this kind of ‘comedy’, it is far from mainstream, as most people recognise, whether pro-life or pro-abortion, that there is nothing funny about abortion. That the BBC would publish such an article, is itself revealing of their priorities.”

(Image credit: Netflix screen shot)