The Abortion Question In Jessica Jones & Twilight

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Jessica Jones is a no-holds-barred feminist show that is staunchly pro-choice. Twilight? Not so much. But Melissa Rosenberg, the showrunner and creator of Marvel's latest Netflix series, also wrote all five installments of the franchise about sparkly vampires.

The topic of a woman's choice came up when we spoke with Rosenberg recently for a piece on sex and female superheroes. Rosenberg did have concerns about adapting the final Twilight book, Breaking Dawn, in which Bella (Kristen Stewart) resolves to keep her half-vampire baby, despite her pregnancy being supernaturally high-risk.

“I am rabidly pro-choice, and Stephenie and I disagree on that particular political issue,” Rosenberg said. “I really didn’t know whether I wanted to adapt that book. I couldn’t figure out how to do it in a way that wasn’t going to violate my own beliefs, and I certainly didn’t have any interest in violating Stephenie’s point of view, either... What ended up happening is my sister-in-law, who is a former ACLU feminist attorney, had read the books too and was a fan. She said, 'You know, one thing that is really overlooked often by the feminist movement is that having a child is a choice,'" Rosenberg recalled. "Once I could wrap my mind around it from that point of view, I could find my way in." (Of course, when it was released, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1 was criticized for having an anti-abortion message.)

There was no need for Rosenberg to tap-dance around the issue in Jessica Jones, however. When an imprisoned Hope (Erin Moriarty) discovers that she is pregnant following a rape, she is adamant about terminating the pregnancy and attempts to induce a miscarriage by paying another inmate to beat her up. That doesn't work, so Jessica (Krysten Ritter) arranges for Hope to get an abortion pill.

“I’m not doing this as a treatise on abortion. I’m doing it as: This is the choice this character would make,” Rosenberg said. “Many people would make that choice, and it’s a perfectly valid one.”

It’s a long way from Bella’s story, but Rosenberg used her experience working on Twilight in shaping Jessica Jones.

“I learned very clearly with all the Twilight stuff how directly one’s message is conveyed to one’s audience,” she said. “Whether you are intending to message something or not, they are getting a message.”
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