Save “All My Children” by Helping Women Avoid Abortions

Opinion   |   Maria Vitale   |   May 9, 2011   |   11:01AM   |   Harrisburg, PA

When I was a little girl, my mother seemed to me to be a perpetual motion machine. She was go-go-go, even when she was inside our modest apartment. The one exception came on weekday afternoons when, after she fixed our lunches, she would sit down and watch the ABC soap opera ”All My Children.” For that brief period of time, she was on her lunch break, commiserating with the characters in fictional Pine Valley.

So when I heard that “All My Children” actress Susan Lucci had written an autobiography, I just knew I had to read it.

In her book All My Life, Lucci recounts how her soap opera was the first television program where a character obtained a legal abortion. She speaks of how the show’s creator, Agnes Nixon, wrote the storyline the day after Roe v. Wade was decided. As Lucci tells it, her character, resident bad girl Erica Kane, was afraid a baby “would interfere with her thriving career.”

Lucci remembers that people both opposed to and supportive of legal abortion criticized the plot line.

But what struck me most about Lucci’s remembrances was what happened one day when she was in church, praying her penance after going to Confession. In nearby pews, she heard people whisper, “Oh my God!” “Can you believe she is praying?” “I’m disgusted.”

Lucci recalls, “I wanted to remind those women that I didn’t have an abortion—my fictitious character did. They weren’t judging the character I play–they were judging me, the actress. I always thought there was no safer place to be oneself than in church. Their judgmental comments didn’t stop me from going, but they didn’t make it easy either.”

I believe that a great deal has changed since “All My Children” first broached the subject of abortion in the 1970s. For one thing, there is the chorus of women who have vowed to be silent no more about their abortion experiences. They regret their abortions, and their first-hand testimony is a powerful argument against the so-called “right to choose.” If today’s pro-lifer judges post-abortive women harshly, she will be condemning the very people who are fighting so hard to protect preborn children and their mothers from abortion.

For another thing, we now know from research that most women seeking abortion do not fall into the Erica Kane category—self-absorbed vixens who base their decision largely on their own career concerns. We have a body of evidence to show that many women are pressured to abort by a boyfriend, husband, parent, or friend. In other words, they feel they have no choice.

I have heard the stereotype that pro-life people are judgmental and unforgiving, that they would rather throw stones at a post-abortive woman than giving her a helping hand. But I’ve found in my years of pro-life activism the utmost compassion and concern for women who have experienced the tragedy of abortion.

I think it’s telling that when former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson wanted to leave her job, the people that she turned to were those literally on the other side of the fence—members of the 40 Days for Life campaign. They had loved her unconditionally and she found in them the friends that would assist her during her time of need.

In April, ABC announced that “All My Children” had been cancelled after four decades on the air. One can only hope that Roe v. Wade will soon end its run, saving another generation of women from the unspeakable pain of losing a child to abortion. Note: Maria Vitale is an opinion columnist for She is the Public Relations Director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and Vitale has written and reported for various broadcast and print media outlets, including National Public Radio, CBS Radio, and AP Radio.