Warning: This has majorÂ spoilersÂ for theÂ BuffyÂ season 9 comics. Maybe not as big as the identity of season 8′s baddie Twilight, but it’s still a dramatic turn that spoilerphobes will want to read for themselves in issue #6, which came out yesterday.
Now that that’s over, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of “On Your Own, Part I”: Buffy decides to get an abortion.
It’s astonishing that Joss Whedon‘s groundbreaking TV series, which brought an enduring feminist hero and introduced one of modern TV’s first openly gay relationships, never landed on the abortion issue. To be fair, Buffy was always a stickler for safe sex, whether physically or emotionally: Her relationships often ended in the guy dead, estranged, or evil.
But it’s a different world in the Dark Horse comics, now in its second “season” after the series finale in 2003. Season 8 ended with Buffy destroying the seed of magic in the world, losing friends and allies after she’s the only Slayer again. She’s relocated to San Francisco and, as evidenced by the first arc “Freefall,” is struggling to figure out where she is. In a prior issue, she got black-out drunk at a party and apparently hooked up with someone, because last month she found out she’s pregnant.
That’s right: Buffy doesn’t know who her baby daddy is. Some fans are protesting such seemingly irresponsible behavior, but Whedon stands behind the decision, which he says they’ve been planning since they first mapped out season 9. In an extensive interview with Entertainment Weekly, he says that he believes getting pregnant is a “not uncommon” part of a woman’s early twenties.
“I think that first of all that they should wait until they have all the facts and theyâ€™ll learn stuff that they didnâ€™t know before,” he said. “They should find out what happened before they completely judge her. But at the same time, this is also about the time in your life when you do things that are irresponsible, or that youÂ wantÂ to hold yourself to account for.”
Of course, the other major supernatural pregnancy that this is getting compared to is Twilightâ€”not that we’re saying it’s necessarily vampire sperm in Buffy’s case, but more because Stephenie MeyerÂ played around with the pro-life/pro-choice debate in Breaking Dawn, Part 1. Although this was probably the opposite of her intention, because Bella decides to keep her vampire hybrid fetus even as it sucks out her life force, it makes her appear to the audience as some dead-eyed pro-life freak. Her “choice” to carry the baby, even if it means her back breaking and her body dying during labor, suddenly doesn’t seem like a choice at all.
As The Mary Sue points out, thisÂ BuffyÂ plotline actually shows readers a pregnant woman seriously considering both consequences of her situationâ€”constantly switching back and forth between the issue of her own health and the potential life that her fetus could lead. (The writers bring in Robin Wood, son of a Slayer, to illustrate what Buffy’s life could be like if she decided to keep the baby.) She’s clear-eyed enough to recognize her own shortcomings and her dangerous lifestyle, but her final decision to get an abortion is not one she arrives at easily.
After the jump, Whedon’s thoughts on how pop culture and especially reality TV have glamorized teen moms who go through with pregnancies even when they’re appallingly unfit to take care of their babies. Plus, how the abortion won’t be as “normal” as you might think.