Actress Sues ABC Over Pregnancy Discrimination, Abortion Bias

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 15, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Actress Sues ABC Over Pregnancy Discrimination, Abortion Bias Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 15, 2006

Hollywood, CA ( — Another actress has filed a lawsuit against a television network saying she is the victim of pregnancy discrimination. This time, former "General Hospital" star Kari Wuhrer has sued ABC and ABC Productions alleging the media outlet killed off her character and dismissed her from the program because she got pregnant.

Actress Hunter Tylo, who has gone on to be a spokeswoman for pro-life causes, filed a similar lawsuit in 1997.

Documents Wuhrer’s attorneys filed with the Los Angeles County Superior Court say ABC producers told her after she started on the show in January 2005 that writers refused to accommodate her pregnancy in the script as most production companies do when cast members become pregnant.

Wehrer is suing for $3 million in damages including damages to her career and earnings as well as emotional distress.

According to a New York Times article, Wuhrer also alleges that ABC soap opera producers have an anti-pregnancy bias in general and encourage actresses to have abortions rather than have their babies.

"Even one whiff that an actress on an ABC daytime soap has conceived a child is enough to have her character killed off the show," the complaint says, according to the Times report.

Attorneys for Wehrer also say Lesli Kay, a former "General Hospital" actress was also fired after she became pregnant and Kay will be a witness in the case, Wuhrer’s lawyer, Martin Singer, said.

"Conduct engaged in by ABC towards Ms. Kay is going to be evidence of the manner in which they deal with actresses that get pregnant on their soaps," he told the New York paper.

ABC spokeswoman Nicole Nichols told the Times that the company has not been served with the lawsuit and does not comment on pending litigation.

However, according to the lawsuit, ABC told Wehrer that she was dismissed because she wasn’t "sexy" enough and didn’t have enough "chemistry" with her character’s love interest. Wuhrer played Reese Marshall on the show.

"The vile underbelly of the Hollywood Machine encourages female actors to be as beautiful and slim as possible," the suit said. It added that an actress who "dares" to become pregnant has one choice: "Terminate her pregnancy or be terminated."

Wehrer had a son two years ago and her second baby is due in April.

In 1997, "Melrose Place" actress Hunter Tylo filed suit saying the same pregnancy discrimination happened to her.

Tylo, who was fired from the show in April 1996, sued Spelling Entertainment Group and Spelling Television Inc. — both run by Hollywood mogul Aaron Spelling — for pregnancy discrimination, wrongful termination and breach of contract.

Producers fired Tylo about ten days after learning of her pregnancy. She never appeared on the show. Tylo was awarded nearly $5 million.

Wehrer is a former MTV video jockey and has appear in movies including "Eight Legged Freaks" and "Anaconda." She has appeared on television and took a brief stab at a music career in the late 1990s.