Why Aren't Reality TV Couples Talking More About Abortion?
Ever since the Supreme Court overturned Roe, abortion access is on everyone's mind. This is especially true for Latinx voters, who indicated abortion was a top-five concern for them for the first time ever, and people living in California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont, who all voted on abortion rights in the most recent midterms.
Even in the dating world, singles are using badges on their online profiles to indicate their pro-choice stance. And in an exclusive survey POPSUGAR conducted, we found that 89 percent of participants would not date someone who is antichoice — and 91 percent of participants would not have sex with someone who is antichoice.
But with all the conversations stirring on abortion access and reproductive rights in general — online, in person, and on the ballot — why is it that we're not seeing more of these conversations surface on reality TV shows? Especially ones that involve falling in love.
In an exclusive interview with POPSUGAR, Nancy Rodriguez explained that, for her, this was because "you don't know how far you're going to make it [and] you don't know how deep you're going to get [with your date]."
Though she had deep conversations with her ex-fiancé, Bartise Bowden, in the pods because she could "really envision him as her fiancé," she kept the conversation fairly light with other suitors, especially when it came to topics like politics and abortion.
"I just knew that in that moment, someone who would receive that information on the other end of the pod would have to be someone who I actually took seriously. I didn't want to just throw this information out on anyone who I was just dating through the process. I wanted it to actually mean something to the person I was dating on the other side," she tells POPSUGAR.
It wasn't until episode six, after moving in together, that Bowden and Rodriguez had the abortion conversation. No other couple mentioned the topic.
In the episode, Rodriguez shared with Bowden that if she found out her child had birth defects and she could abort the pregnancy, she would "go that route" if she knew she could "try again and hope that the second time is better." Bowden, however, said he could "never do that" just because the child or his family would endure some challenges.
Rodriguez explained that this conversation happened naturally, as she and Bowden discussed family planning. For her, bringing up abortion wasn't "a plan, it wasn't an agenda, it was just part of an organic conversation that I was having with my fiancé."
Bringing up abortion wasn't "a plan, it wasn't an agenda, it was just part of an organic conversation that I was having with my fiancé."
As it turns out, Bowden and Rodriguez had very different opinions on the issue. Bowden said that people could have "one pass" if they were young or couldn't financially afford the pregnancy, and if a "traumatic event" like rape occurred, then an abortion would be justifiable. But Rodriguez made her stance very clear in stating that she thinks she has "no say in anyone's body" and "if you need to have an abortion for whatever XYZ reason, have it."
Despite the difference of opinion, Rodriguez tells POPSUGAR that Bowden's stance "wasn't a dealbreaker." But Bowden seemed to really struggle with her views on abortion. And unfortunately, the pair ultimately did not work out — Rodriguez said "I do" at the altar, and Bowden said "I do not."
As a viewer, seeing this conversation play out on TV feels refreshing — like a reflection of how many couples in the "real world" would navigate these issues. But it does beg a question: if "hot-button" topics like abortion were brought up sooner in the pods, would it have impacted whether Bowden and Rodriguez agreed to the engagement?
This isn't just an issue for "Love Is Blind," though. Currently, on shows like "Bachelor in Paradise" and "Love Island," the contestants do not discuss their political affiliation or opinions on things like abortion access, LGBTQ+ rights, guns, etc. Who knows if it's because these contestants don't find these issues to be dealbreakers or if it's because they're avoiding bringing up the conversations all together.
But because the conversations around abortion are so topical and important right now — and, for many, a dealbreaker — we can only hope that they become more common for reality TV couples looking to find true, compatible love. Plus, it wouldn't hurt to continue normalizing discussions around abortion and family planning.
"I hope that us putting ourselves very vulnerably on worldwide television will inspire people to have these conversations because it's reality. This is the definition of reality TV: it's really happening in our world," Rodriguez tells POPSUGAR. "So I do hope that we can sprinkle some inspiration on relationships, especially in the future with other conversations."