New FX Drama ‘American Horror Story’ Is Anti-Abortion Propaganda At Its Worst

20 Oct

Trigger warning: descriptions of violence against women, graphic content.

Every TV season there’s a show that looks to have so much potential that the buzz starts to gather around it before the show even airs. This season, that show is FX ‘s new late night horror-drama, “American Horror Story.” The pilot had promise, with scream-inducing, jump-out-of-your-seats scary moments. And I have to admit, I was hooked. Just a few days later, I watched the first episode and was indeed horrified, but not for the reasons you might think.

This isn’t a show about scary monsters, although there are monsters that jump out from dark corners. This isn’t a show about murdered couples in a scary, vintage home, although there’s plenty of murder and gore. It’s an abortion horror story, a drama on a popular network aimed at young adult viewers that blames the years and years of horror occurring in a scary house on a 1920’s drug-addicted doctor who performed late term, unsafe abortions in his basement.

Here’s how this abomination of a television show goes: man, wife, and daughter move from the East coast to a haunted California house to flee their troubled marriage. The wife suffered a still birth and afterward, her husband cheated on her with his college student. Typical, I know. It gets better, though: the wife sleeps with a masked ghost thinking its her husband – see, women are so slutty! get it!- and in episode two, reveals that she is expecting. Meanwhile, the husband is suffering from hallucinations and an alluring house maid -damn the sexy women always trying to seduce well-meaning men!- and then in a random fit, he goes back to the East coast to deal with a “problem.”

What’s the problem? His mistress is pregnant and she needs support as she has chosen to have an abortion. I guess young women that choose to abort can’t make the choice without a man there by their side, holding their hand through the process. Of course, the support of a partner is cool, but the show presents the young mistress as a needy, mentally unhinged basket case that couldn’t go through with the abortion, but I ‘ll get to that part later. While the young mistress wails and begs the man to rekindle their romance, he stoically resists her advances (pesky seductress!) and takes her to the abortion clinic. The clinic is a dark, dingy, very unsanitary looking place; a nurse wheels around a decrepit female patient with blood all over her and the man tries to support his sobbing woman mistress.

Back in LA, wife and daughter are assaulted by some visitors that want to reenact a murder that purportedly happened in that house thirty or so years ago. Although the wife and daughter survive, they are so traumatized that wife decides to sell the house. And that brings us to tonight’s episode, the most heinously anti-choice propaganda I have ever seen. Period. When I say that, I include the anti-abortion signs protestors hold up at anti-choice rallies and in front of abortion clinics.

Last night, the true horror of the house is revealed; the reason for the haunting becomes apparent. Back in the 1920’s, an East coast socialite became enraged when her doctor husband didn’t bring home enough money, so the devious-she-devil (we’ve seen this before, evil woman , it’s all her fault!) informs the doctor husband that she’s found a woman in a “bad situation,” that has sixty dollars and is willing to pay for the problem to be “taken care of.” Because apparently, abortion doctors are greedy, evil monsters that prey on young girls in desperate situations.

Cut to the next scene where the door bell rings and a young, blond, almost angelic looking woman enters. She’s crying, softly, as the she-devil-wife leads her into the bathroom where she helps her dress in a white gown. There, the wife forces the young girl to drink a substance that makes the girl act completely drugged and incoherent, but not before the wife collects the girl’s money. Apparently, young women don’t make the choice to abort willingly, they’re totally drugged and forced to go through with the procedure. The wife then leads the girl into the basement where the doctor performs the abortion. An announcer cuts in saying, “the souls of 12 babies are said to haunt the house to this day.” Because that’s how many women were “lured” into that evil doctor’s basement. Suddenly, the opening credits clips make sense because they’re images of dead fetus parts kept in jars in the dingy basement. Message: not only are doctors that perform abortions evil, money-grubbing, exploitative human beings, they’re totally fucking crazy.

And folks, this isn’t all, remember when the man’s mistress had an abortion in an earlier episode? Oh, she didn’t, instead she’s going to keep the “baby” and make him pay for it. Yep, that’s right, in one swoop of the screen writer’s pen, the woman goes from lunatic abortion-needing mistress, to vindictive mistress that wants to ruin a man’s life. As the show goes on, the young woman becomes more and more incoherent, until finally, a creepy neighbor attacks the mistress with a shovel and kills her. The husband then feels that his problem is solved and buries the girl in the backyard and builds a gazebo on top of the spot where her body is buried. It’s like the poor woman and her fetus were really just a “problem” that needed disposing of.

To top it all off, the last scene of tonight’s episode is of the man and his wife happily drinking iced tea in the gazebo. Sick.

How messed up is this? Violence against women, check. Reification of she-devil, seductress stereotypes, check. Abortion shaming, huge. fucking. check. There’s a way to may a show scary and it doesn’t have to include “babies haunting a mansion for almost 100 years.” Because if that isn’t straight out of the radical anti-choice playbook, I don’t know what is. And I’m still astounded the plot of this show was green lighted. I get that this is cable, that the rules aren’t as stringent, that FX is probably trying to “push the boundaries,” but the only boundary FX is pushing is the one between really bad and really disturbing.


12 Responses to “New FX Drama ‘American Horror Story’ Is Anti-Abortion Propaganda At Its Worst”

  1. Bhevarri October 20, 2011 at 10:10 pm #

    The fuck? I was all excited about this show, but I was beyond confused and totally uninterested after the first episode because of the whole “I cheated on you because you had a miscarriage” and the fact that NOTHING MADE ANY FUCKING SENSE. I’m glad to know I was right to stop watching. What the hell is so scary about fetus-ghosts? That’s not even arguably spooky, that’s just bullshit. Completely transparent anti-choice bullshit, too.
    Thanks for this post.

  2. cub October 21, 2011 at 4:54 am #

    i shared your reaction and can’t figure out where this is headed, but when i was on io9, i used that same term,”abortion-shaming”– to describe the Higgins Brother/tour guide. i mean WTeverlovingF? from the nip/tuck people? i won’t rest until i have closure on this.

  3. Steph L October 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Please delete prior comment – I posted it incomplete by accident.

    “To top it all off, the last scene of tonight’s episode is of the man and his wife happily drinking iced tea in the gazebo.”

    Well maybe its just my usual morbid sense of humor, but I found that funny.

    Dark humor aside, I hadn’t thought to watch this show before (thought it looked cheesy) and I’m glad I didn’t. Talk about a cheap plot.

  4. Sophia October 21, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    the only reason I found that last part totally disturbing (and this isn’t a personal attack on you, please know that) is that it hits way too close to home. There were young girls in a Oregon City, Oregon(I’m in Portland, Oregon) that were kidnapped and murdered, then the murderer buried them in his backyard and made a patio on top of their graves. He then hosted a local news interview on the cement patio, laughing and joking around, just sick, sick shit. Anyway, that’s what I thought of when I saw that final scene of the show. Ugh.

  5. Steph L October 22, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    No problem, I see where you’re coming from. But I’ve worked in forensics and law enforcement – seen a lot of results of such crimes firsthand. In my field if you don’t learn to develop a dark sense of humor about your cases, you go nuts.

  6. Duncan Scrymgeour October 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm #

    I actually found this blog post to be a bit paranoid. I understand that people can see many things in a creative production, but my take was entirely different. I think that the abortion narrative is more nuanced. If there is a political agenda–and from the creators of Nip/Tuck and Glee, a “right-wing agenda” seems counter-intuitive–I think that it’s one that demonstrates the trauma of late-term abortions and the terror of “home abortions” like those performed before Roe v. Wade. One of the problems with the fight *against* late-term abortions was that the opponents felt that this was somehow a casual decision on the part of women and not a traumatic one that was only taken after serious consideration with physicians. The show represents that trauma. The themes of the show are sex, death, children and the equivocations that involve them. (Jessica Lange’s seemingly insensitive mother who nonetheless threatens to break the protagonist’s arm if she ever touches her daughter again.) There are “slutty women” depictions, I guess, but the fact that the lead was banging a student when he’s discovered by his wife isn’t a “all men are pigs” depiction? This is a horror story and a work of fiction so the normal rules don’t apply. I understand that this fact doesn’t inoculate the show against proper criticism, and from a political view, if appropriate, but I have to say that I think the critique here is a bit overwrought. Also, while the show may appeal to a younger audience (I’m forty-seven), the fact that it has nudity, is rated the way that it is and is on at 10:00 on a Wednesday, which is not prime time, argues otherwise. That doesn’t stop younger viewers from watching it, but it’s clearly not the Vampire Diaries. Anyway, thank you, I just wanted to add my two cents.

  7. Sarah October 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    Um, are you not in tune with the news? I live in Philly. Heard of Kermit Gosnell? He did late term abortions and did keep dead babies all over his clinic. Not anti-choice propaganda. One of your “safe and legal” providers. Own it.

  8. Sophia October 25, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    The notion that one bad person in a large population is the definition of said population is one pedaled by those that have no understanding of said population and those that want to demonize and destroy said population.

    Sarah, there are evil people in this world, hoarding fetus carcasses in an office building is wrong and horrifying, no one disputes that, and I certainly don’t condone such actions in this post. But the actions of that one person -Gosnell, in this case- does not represent the entirety of the abortion provider population.

    Gosnell prayed upon desperate women that for various reasons were unable to obtain legal, safe, and affordable health care choices. Yes, abortion is health care, and when affordable health care isn’t accessible, women resort to finding care from people like Gosnell who for many unrelated reasons (mental health issues etc..) are ready and willing to do those women real harm.

    Which leads me back to the point of this post: a television show is reifying the very wrong stereotype that all abortion providers are evil, fetus hoarding, sickos.

  9. Steph L October 25, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

    Nice try, Sarah, but what you fail to grasp is that Gosnell’s clinic was very much an illegal abortion clinic, which is what happens when antis run the legitimate practioners out and leave desperate women with little other option.
    If you thought that the ‘back-alley’ abortions were just a horror story of the past, then think again. Antis harass and kill the Tillers of the world and are somehow shocked when the Gosnells are what we’re left with. Own it, antis.

  10. Molly October 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    THANK YOU. So many ahem…”feminists” love this show and it disgusts me. The viewers aren’t decoding the (debatable) feminist messages that so many women have spoken of, they’re jacking off to Moira and taking all of the gross misogyny at face-value, which reaffirms their OWN misogyny.


  1. American Horror Story:Demonizing S/M, Calling Rape “Having Sex” | Vagina Dentwata - October 24, 2011

    […] The bad: Once again, “American” is equated with “white upper-middle class.” Once again, we are squicked out by a Mystical Pregnancy. Once again, we are subjected to a visual onslaught of violence against female bodies. Once again, abortion is demonized. […]

  2. ‘American Horror Story’ Demonizes Abortion and Suffers from the Mystical Pregnancy Trope | The Opinioness of the World - April 27, 2012

    […] the ultimate expression of evil. Abortion Gang’s Sophia rightfully condemns the series as an “abortion horror story” and “anti-choice propaganda at its worst.” Tami at What Tami Said criticizes the series for […]

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