While it’s become typical for Hollywood to try to normalize abortion, it’s not common for a romantic dramedy to employ abortion as a plot device to bring two potential love interests closer together, as occurred in the second season of HBO Max’s Love Life.
This season of the anthology series, which concluded on November 11, focused on Marcus Watkins (William Jackson Harper), a young black man in a failed interracial marriage who appears to be truly meant to be with Mia Hines (Jessica Williams). Circumstances continually keep Marcus and Mia apart, including when Marcus impregnates an older white woman he’s been casually seeing at the end of the episode named after her, “Becca Evans” (Leslie Bibb).
Marcus assumes Becca will get an abortion and becomes angry and self-righteous upon finding out she won’t because “I don’t wanna be tied to you for the rest of my life.” Ironically, Marcus objects to the typically pro-abortion notion of “my body, my choice” when he disagrees with Becca’s choice to carry their baby, saying, “It’s your body, but half of what’s happening in there, that’s–that’s me. And I don’t get any say in that? Like, none? Come on, Becca, that’s fucked up, man, you know it.”
Marcus: Yeah, I mean, well, you know, whatever you wanna do, like… I mean, I’ll–I’m more than happy to…
Becca: Thank you.
Marcus: Yeah, to, like, come with you. And obviously, I’ll pay for anything that you–
Becca: Oh, no, Marcus, I’m keeping the baby. But I don’t need anything from you.
Marcus: Uh, um, uh, oh, God. Oh, my God, how could I let this fuckin’ happen?
Becca: I’m totally fine with you being involved as much or as little as you want. It’s really, I mean, it’s not that complicated.
Marcus: Well, I mean, it is. For me, it is kinda complicated.
Marcus: Okay, Becca, you can’t tell a Black man that he doesn’t have to be involved with his kid.
Becca: Okay, well, that seems ridiculous. What does race have to do with anything?
Marcus: ‘Cause people are gonna judge me differently than they do you. Like that’s just–that’s just facts, so–
Becca: Neither one of us wanted this to happen. It’s gonna be okay. I mean, come on, Marcus. It’s gonna be a little mixed baby. Mixed babies are so cute.
Marcus: You know, I don’t–
Becca: Better be cute.
Marcus: No, no, no, I don’t think that’s… I don’t think that’s funny, like–
Marcus: I’m just gonna say it. I mean, like, is that the reason why you wanna keep this baby? Do you want, like, this trendy, little, you know, frizzy haired accessory, to, you know, walk around town with? You get to be Sandra Bullock or Angelina Jolie? You get your progressive street cred, like just fuckin’ cemented. I mean, like, is that– is that what this is about?
Becca: Fuck you, that’s not what I meant. I didn’t even have to tell you, Marcus. I did you a courtesy. But you do not get a say in what I do with my body.
Marcus: It’s your body, but half of what’s happening in there, that’s–that’s me. And I don’t get any say in that? Like, none? Come on, Becca, that’s fucked up, man, you know it. Like, this isn’t supposed to be a thing. Like I don’t wanna be tied to you for the rest of my life.
Becca: What do you want? I’m giving you an out.
Marcus: No, I don’t–I don’t want an out.
Becca: Then what do you want, Marcus? I am going to have this baby, and it’s my decision. And I’m sorry it’s not what you want.
In the subsequent episode, “Becca Evans Part II,” it’s revealed that Marcus has been wallowing in “his own lack of agency” when it comes to Becca not having an abortion. But Marcus finally comes around and gets back in touch with Becca two months into her pregnancy, deciding he’d like to be part of their child’s life. Because Becca is older, her pregnancy is considered higher risk and he goes with her to doctor’s visits.
Marcus takes comfort in Mia, showing her an ultrasound of his baby. That’s when Mia reveals she had an abortion when she was 18 because she “just didn’t want people telling me what to do.” She says that afterwards she “didn’t really feel anything” and then “just felt relief.”
Mia: I had an abortion once. Not a segue, but, uh–
Mia: Yeah. I was–I was 18 and I just got out of high school. And my mom wasn’t having it, and I sure as fuck wasn’t ready for a baby. And I just didn’t want people telling me what to do.
Marcus: How’d you feel afterwards?
Mia: I didn’t really feel anything, and then… I just felt relief. And, uh… now, I honestly don’t even really think about it anymore.
Marcus: I mean, do you–I mean, do you think you’re gonna want kids in the future, or…
Mia: Sometimes I think I still want kids, and then I’m like ‘Who am I to be looking after another human?’
Marcus: Who is anyone?
Ultimately, the baby is diagnosed with several abnormalities, including Trisomy 13 and 18, leading Becca to have an abortion, saying, “If I don’t have a D&C, I’ll probably miscarry.”
When Mia asks how he is feeling afterwards, he acknowledges that “this is gonna sound a little fucked up…maybe kind of relieved.”
It’s really f-ed up that abortion is treated so casually, from Marcus expecting Becca to abort their child at the outset to Mia feeling nothing after her abortion. The message they want to send is that abortion is a good thing that will bring relief to all involved. The truth is that abortion is an abomination that prematurely ends a unique human life created in the image of God and there is nothing Hollywood can do to normalize that.