The XX Factor

Should Choosing an Abortion Be Decided by Committee?

As a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, I was surprised by the controversy surrounding President Obama’s commencement speech last year. But the hoopla over our pro-choice president delivering a talk at a Catholic, pro-life institution is ongoing: It provided the inspiration for a new Web series, called Bump , on which actors play women on a reality TV show debating whether or not to have an abortion. The twist is that viewers have the opportunity to influence each girl’s decision by sending their personal stories and advice to the creators .

Bump launched earlier this year , and features three unlikeable personalities: Katie, whose husband is serving in Iraq and whom she’s cheated on, resulting in the pregnancy; Denise, who, despite her frivolous personality, has to contend with serious issues, like an abusive husband; and Hailey, who, with her partner, just wants to make it on a reality show. They’re supposed to represent women like you and me.

The idea behind the program-to “determine whether story can succeed where nearly four decades of angry rhetoric and political posturing have failed” -is admirable enough. The problem is that Bump , in posturing as a reality TV show without really being one, is overly earnest. These “complex” women in “complex” situations are almost a parody of real life, yet we’re supposed to take them seriously.

Moreover, the producers’ decision to allow the audience to help direct the future of the show by chiming in on each episode just gets in the way of the kind of communication I think they were aiming for: one with no strings attached. Like real life, the abortion debate becomes a kind of competition where each side is hoping it will be able to determine what others do in their lives.

Watch the most recent episode here: