‘The Morning Show’ Tackles Medication Abortion (And Does a Pretty Good Job)

The third season begins in March 2022 and Bradley Jackson is reporting on a woman who’s traveling monthly to Mexico to get medication abortion.

‘The Morning Show’ Tackles Medication Abortion (And Does a Pretty Good Job)
Reese Witherspoon as Bradley Jackson and Jennifer Aniston as Alex Levy in “The Morning Show.” Photo:Apple TV+

“The Morning Show” is back with a vengeance. Season 3 of the Apple TV+ series premiered on Wednesday and, in only two episodes, already tackled cyber attacks, a rocket launch that resembles Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket, a Succession-like attempted merger and acquisition, and most importantly, medication abortion.

The third season begins in March 2022, months before the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade, but about six months after Texas passed a six-week abortion ban, along with a bounty-hunter law that allows anyone to sue anyone they suspect of aiding an abortion. Bradley Jackson (played with Reese Witherspoon’s signature sometimes drawl) is trying to report on a woman in the state, Luna, who’s traveling monthly to Mexico to get medication abortion for women with no other option.

Luna drives to Mexico from Del Rio, Texas which is about 150 miles west of San Antonio, and smack dab in the middle of an abortion desert. (Texas has been ravaged by decades of anti-choice legislation, leaving a gaping hole in coverage options for rural Texans.) It’s unclear if Luna’s purchasing mifepristone and/or misoprostol but we do get to watch Bradley have a not-FaceTime-but-FaceTime video call with her…a potentially vulnerable source…in the backseat of a car…without headphones.

Possible journalistic malpractice aside, The Morning Show did what so many shows either failed to do or didn’t want to do (cough cough …And Just Like That’s recent huge miss): Actually deliver a realistic abortion storyline. In reality, at this point in time, thousands were fleeing Texas for abortion care. By February 2022, there was a more than 2,500% increase in patients from Texas at Planned Parenthood affiliates in Oklahoma alone. Later, Luna will be arrested—which immediately reminded me of a Texas woman who was arrested on suspicion of murder in April 2022 after she allegedly self-managed her abortion. (Her charges were later dropped.)

Unfortunately, Bradley eventually gets told she can’t do the story because they need her objectivity for the upcoming 2024 elections as the face of UBA. This was an especially infuriating scene since abortion is an incredibly safe medical procedure that, at last estimate, 1 in 4 women will experience in their lifetime. Sure, fairness should be the ultimate goal but I think being fair about what bans could potentially do to people (nearly kill them) and being fair about what politicians’ end goals are is what great journalists are supposed to be doing.

So Bradley punts the story to Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) who’s on a private jet to Texas to board Paul Marks’ (played by Jon Hamm!!) rocket to become the first female journalist in space (yes this show is ridiculous). Alex is seemingly scrolling through her phone to brush up on anti-abortion policies in Texas and becomes aghast at the sprawling amount of anti-abortion centers in the state. In 2021, nationally, for every three anti-abortion centers there is one abortion clinic. However, when examining conservative states the numbers can be more stark. Texas has funded anti-abortion centers since 2005, and according to NBC News’s reporting, they outnumber abortion clinics 9 to 1.

Alex explains how anti-abortion centers can distort how far along someone is in a pregnancy, give misleading information about abortion side effects, and more, all in service of preventing someone from exercising their bodily autonomy. It’s a powerful scene that ends with her male producer (Mark Duplass) trying to diffuse her anger by telling her to think of all the tasty barbecues Texas has. “Yeah, it’s delicious,” Alex replies. “Brisket roasted over the ashes of women’s autonomy.”

In all, the abortion storyline in Texas before the end of Roe was much more interesting than the thinly veiled take on Bezos’s Blue Origin rocket (that didn’t even go to actual space, just very high up in the sky!!!!). And, thanks to Dr. Ghazaleh Moayedi, DO, MPH, an abortion provider from Texas who was a consultant on the episode, all the information is medically accurate. Because of her work, viewers got to hear how safe abortion pills are—safer than Viagra—despite the fact that they’re being villainized by the courts. It’s unclear how many more abortion plots we’ll get from this season, though Alex does say something to Bradley about the Supreme Court decision in June—which seems to suggest they’ll cover Roe.

Eventually, Alex makes it to Del Rio to report on Luna’s arrest. (And Bradley gets to go and take Alex’s place aboard the rocket.) Alex is unable to get inside the police station, but we do get one more great scene of her explaining abortion pills to viewers. “Medication abortion is safe and it is effective,” she says in front of a crowd of protesters chanting “My body, my choice.” “And here in the remote Rio Grande Valley, often the only option.”

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