‘Jane the Virgin’ Makes History With First Latina to Talk About Her Abortion on Primetime Network TV

Ivonne Coll as Alba, Gina Rodriguez as Jane and Andrea Navedo as Xo in 'Jane the Virgin' episode "Chapter Two." Photo by Tyler Golden. Courtesy of The CW

Jane the Virgin’sChapter Forty-Six,” made history Monday night for being the first primetime network television show to have a Latina talk about her decision to have an abortion, according to Planned Parenthood. If you need a refresher, Jane’s (Gina Rodriguez) mother Xo (Andrea Navedo) was pregnant with another man’s baby and planned to terminate it. The series didn’t belabor the decision and started Monday’s episode with Xo casually mentioning she took an abortion pill weeks ago.

Showrunner Jennie Snyder-Urman talked to Vanity Fair about Xo’s decision and her desire to show a different spectrum of feelings. “I’ve seen a lot of torment and the torture of making that choice… but what I hadn’t seen is that some women who make that choice are relieved.” And what Snyder-Urman probably hadn’t seen was a Latina making that choice. Medical Daily cites, “Latina women were completely absent from any depictions of abortion [in media], when in reality they make up 24.9% of those who undergo abortion procedures.”

“I’ve seen a lot of torment and the torture of making that choice… but what I hadn’t seen is that some women who make that choice are relieved.”

Jane’s always been a show that embraces women’s choices, and how one decision can change a life. Jane and Xo have always vocalized the positivity of their choice to keep their kids. No stranger to medical decisions regarding pregnancy — we wouldn’t have a show without it — abortion was discussed when Jane’s pregnancy was first revealed, as well as during a round of medical testing on the developing Mateo. Xo’s also dealt with an unplanned pregnancy prior to this — Jane herself. Xo had a great support system in place, including Rogelio (Jaime Camil) who put aside his anger at Xo’s choice of sexual partner. “Chapter Forty-Six” didn’t give Xo a “very special episode,” but dealt with the abortion like an adult.

For Xo, and the audience, the judgement that’s harshest comes from her mother. Alba’s always represented old-school Latino traditions on faith and relationships, so she was obviously aghast at Xo’s decision. After chiding that Xo was bound for Hell, Alba loudly asserted that Xo should have kept her legs shut. Snyder-Urman says this was important to depict because, “we had a real opportunity to understand and empathize with both of their points of view… We tried really hard to have a balance — to give Alba a chance to say what she wanted to say.” The competing viewpoints and overall message attracted the attention of Planned Parenthood, who praised the show on their Twitter and Facebook pages.

In the end, the Villanueva women came together as a family, which for Snyder-Urman is the most important element. “The family’s love is going to get them past the fact that they don’t agree on everything.” We second that.