What's more, Thursday's midseason finale was the second timeScandal and Olivia have broached the subject of abortion. In season four, the series featured a case-of-the-week story in which a female Navy officer was raped and begged the fixer for help getting an abortion.
Thursday's Scandal also marked the latest time that Rhimes has used her primetime platform to put a spotlight on a woman's right to choose. Grey's Anatomy explored the subject when Sandra Oh's Cristina Yang had an abortion in season eight because she and then-husband Owen (Kevin McKidd) did not agree on having children.
In a January 2014 interview with Time, Rhimes said the topic of abortions shouldn't be ignored on the small screen. "Because it is such a hot-button issue, because people are debating it, it should be discussed," she said at the time. "And I’m not sure why it’s not being discussed."
The Planned Parenthood Action Fund released a statement late Thursday praising Rhimes — who sits on the board of directors at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. "Tonight, the millions of people who tune into Scandalevery Thursday night learned that our rights to reproductive health care are under attack," Planed Parenthood Federation of American's Cecile Richards said. "Never one to shy away from critical issues, Shonda Rhimes used her platform to tell the world that if Planned Parenthood lost funding for contraception counseling, STI testing, cancer screenings and safe, legal abortion — millions of people would suffer. And this episode wasn’t the first time one of Rhimes’ characters had an abortion, yet tonight we saw one of our favorite characters make the deeply personal decision that one in three women have made in their lifetime."
The statement continued: "We applaud Shonda Rhimes tonight — and every Thursday night — for proving that when women are telling our stories, the world will pause and watch. We just hope those in Congress — and throughout the nation — who are steadfast on rolling the clock back on reproductive health care access are taking note."
The Scandal midseason finale arrives as the subject of abortion appears to have become more commonplace on television. FXX's second-year comedy You're the Worst has made an effort to normalize the subject by creating a shorthand for it ("abobo") and NBC's since-concluded Parenthood featured an abortion in a 2013 episode in which Drew (Miles Heizer) calmly accompanied his high school girlfriend Amy (Skyler Day) to get an abortion.