Aretha Franklin ‘Very Supportive’ of ‘Silent Night’ as Abortion Soundtrack on ABC's 'Scandal'

Legendary singer Aretha Franklin fully supported the use of her Christmas song, “Silent Night,” in a TV abortion scene, according to the show’s creator.

In anticipation of the 100th episode of ABC’s political drama, Scandal, the creator and cast spoke with The Hollywood Reporter. During the interview published Tuesday, the stars disclosed details on an abortion scene in season five, which happened to the tune of Aretha Franklin’s “Silent Night.”

Actress Bellamy Young, who stars as the show’s fictional first lady, revealed ABC originally wanted to eliminate the scene showing crisis manager Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington, undergoing an abortion. ABC’s “Standards and Practices wanted to cut Olivia's abortion,” Young admitted.

When that happened, showrunner Shonda Rhimes threatened ABC with the press. “Go ahead, alter the scene,” she remembered telling the network. “We'll just have a lot of articles about how you altered the scene."

That year, 2015, Rhimes had already placed a “groundbreaking” abortion scene in Scandal – to the delight of the liberal media.

“We had done an abortion on a military woman who had been raped earlier on, and we were doing nothing different than we did in that scene — they just didn't like that it was happening to Olivia,” Rhimes complained.

In the end, ABC allowed the scene. And, as before, the media applauded the abortion – this time happening with Aretha Franklin’s “Silent Night” playing in the background.

“It was a Christmas episode, and we played Christmas music,” Rhimes defended. Young also chimed in on the “balls to pick that song.”

But it wasn’t just Rhimes and Young who approved of the song. Aretha Franklin did too.

“I kept going back to our music supervisor, ‘We sure Aretha Franklin is OK with this?’” Rhimes couldn’t believe her luck. “I wanted to make sure Aretha knew what the scene was about.”

Franklin was more than “OK” with it, according to Rhimes.

“Her people said I was fine and to stop asking,” Rhimes said. “It made me love her forever because then I could be like, ‘Aretha Franklin, who sings a lot of gospel music, is very supportive of this.’”

Viewers should expect to see and hear more from the showrunner on abortion. She recently joined the national board of America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, and promised to help “in any way.”

And she isn’t the only Scandal big name to support Planned Parenthood. In March, Tony Goldwyn, who plays the fictional president in the series, heralded Planned Parenthood as “lifesaving” and abortion as “moral.” Co-star Kerry Washington is also a big defender of Parenthood and is currently co-producing an abortion-centered film of her own.

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Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder is Associate Culture Editor, the Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow at Media Research Center