A woman whose husband is out of town has a one-night stand with a man she works with, who's also married. She misses her next period, and a pregnancy test confirms she's pregnant.
What does she do?
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If she's a real, flesh-and-blood woman, there's a more than 40 percent chance she'll have an abortion. If she's a character on television or in a movie, she's almost certain to keep the baby.
Mad Men viewers discovered this week that Joan Harris—who became pregnant earlier in the season after a tryst with her colleague and on-again, off-again lover, Roger—did not have an abortion, as we were led to believe a few episodes ago. Instead, she joins the heroines of TV shows like Sex and the City and Secret Life of the American Teenager and movies like Knocked Up and Juno in deciding to bring her unplanned pregnancy to term.
Examples of onscreen women who decide to go through with abortions, on the other hand, are scarce. On this year's season of Friday Night Lights, a 10th grader has an abortion (and gets her school guidance counselor fired in the process). Before that, a 2004 episode of the high school soap Degrassi: The Next Generation and a 2003 episode of Everwood portrayed teenagers getting abortions. But to find an example of a completed abortion on network television earlier than that, you'd have to look as far back as 1972, when CBS's Maude had its 47-year-old protagonist go through with the procedure.