Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead created a massive internal conflict for me. As explained at Jezebel, the episode featured a character who has discovered her pregnancy, and understandably, considering the zombie apocalypse, feels this isn’t the right time to bring a new baby into the world. (She also understandably fears for her own safety, since giving birth in a ditch without medical assistance is associated with a high maternal mortality rate.) So she obtains morning after pills, takes a bunch of them, throws them up, and then, according to TV tradition, decides not to abort because in TV-land, there’s never a good reason to have an abortion. No, not even if it means being ripped limb from limb by zombies.
The problem with this storyline, outside the tedious fear of getting letters from irate anti-choicers that dictates TV’s near-absolute approach to unintended pregnancy, is simple: Morning-after pills are not abortion. You can’t even get abortion pills from a typical pharmacy, since RU-486, the actual abortion pill, is dispensed mainly at doctor’s offices. Morning-after pills are contraception, and they work by stifling ovulation before any sperm can make their way toward the Fallopian tubes. Anti-choicers claim they work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting, but there is no scientific evidence for this claim, and strong evidence against it. But even if you mistakenly believe this is how emergency contraception works, that still has no bearing on pregnancies that have already begun and show up on pregnancy tests, as portrayed on this show. She might as well have been sucking down candy cigarettes in hopes of causing an abortion.