ABC’s Roseanne spinoff The Conners featured a surprise announcement on Wednesday’s episode “Possums (sic), Pregnancy and Patriarchy,” as Roseanne’s granddaughter Harris (Emma Kenney) tells the family she is pregnant. She blames it on the overturning of Roe v. Wade, saying she deleted her period tracker because she, “didn’t want Big Brother spying on her ovaries.” Her mother sadly laments having had her young and pressures Harris into aborting her own grandchild.
Harris is in her early 20’s, unmarried and not with the baby’s father anymore. At the start of the episode, Harris isn’t ready to tell her family, but her aunt Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) quickly discerns her secret and covers for her.
She visits Harris in her room where Harris admits she’s pregnant and blames it on Roe’s overturning:
Jackie: Okay. Please tell me you're just checking out pre-natal stuff because you want better nails and hair.
Harris: I wish I could. I took three tests. I'm pregnant.
Jackie: Oh, no! And you probably don't even know who the guy is, do ya?
Harris: That was your life, not mine. I know who it is. It's Kai.
Jackie: The drifter poet guy? Okay, this is a small town. People are gonna talk. We're gonna go with you don't know. So how did this happen? I thought you were on the pill.
Harris: Well, I was, but it made me feel crazy, so then I switched to the patch, but I know it's not always effective right away, so then I started using a period-tracking app, but then I got rid of it because Roe V. Wade got overturned and I didn't want Big Brother spying on my ovaries. And then I found a calendar in the house, but it turned out it was from 2013 –
Jackie: Okay, okay, okay. The baby's gonna be here before this is over. So, I'm guessing that you're really scared.
Harris: Yeah. And I definitely wasn't ready to tell anyone, so thank you for covering for me at breakfast.
Jackie: Yeah, you're welcome. But you know you're gonna have to tell your mom.
Harris: So not ready for that fight. She already thinks I'm totally irresponsible. This will just confirm it.
Jackie: Harris, your grandma got knocked up, your mom got knocked up, your aunt got knocked up, so you haven't broken the curse. Although, you are the first one to do it with a hobo. You've opened up a whole portal we didn't know existed. No, what I'm trying to say is, I'm here for you.
A baby is never a “curse.” Sad Jackie sees it that way.
At a later dinner, Harris turns down a beer offered to her, and her mother Darlene (Sara Gilbert) immediately realizes she’s pregnant. Her grandfather Dan (John Goodman) says, “I want you to seriously consider keeping this baby.” But Jackie pushes for an abortion, saying she never regretted her own:
Dan: Look, I know this is a shock and you're probably feeling, "There's no way I'm ready to have this baby," but we've all felt like that. There's never enough time, there's never enough money, or enough anything. You just make it happen, and somehow it all works out.
Jackie: You know, that's really easy for you to say, Dan, because you had Roseanne. There were two of you. Or, no, wait, I take that back. There was only one. Roseanne was raising the kids, and you were hiding out in the garage.
Dan: Hey, I was always on property.
Jackie: Can I jump in here? Harris, my opinion is that you need to go with your gut on this, and I think I know what your decision is gonna be.
Dan: How do you know?
Jackie: Because if Harris wasn't pregnant, there's no way she would be thinking about having a kid. Harris, I love you, I don't think you're prepared for this. I had to make this choice when I was your age, and I knew that I wasn't ready, and it was a decision that I've never regretted. So, if you decide that that's what's right for you, I support that.
Harris: Oh, thank you. I appreciate you both.
Harris then asks to speak to her mom alone, who is visibly upset. Darlene further pressures Harris to abort Darlene’s own grandchild, even disgustingly going so far as to use Harris and her brother’s existence as a reason to have an abortion:
Harris: You're way too quiet. What's up?
Darlene: I am thrown that you feel this is even something to think about. You broke up with Aldo because he wanted a baby, and that was someone you were in a real relationship with.
Harris: Well, I felt pressured with Aldo. He made it a dealbreaker, like the whole relationship was about me giving him a kid, and I wasn't ready for that.
Darlene: Okay, that was just six months ago, right? So, you're ready now?
Harris: Well, it's different now. Now that it's real, I can't explain it, I just -- I feel like I have to think about it.
Darlene: I had unplanned kids at your age with no partner really helping me, and it wore me down. I mean, look at me.
Harris: I've seen pictures. You looked like that on Santa's lap. So, what are you saying? You're sorry you had me?
Darlene: No, of course not. But if I could go back and really think it through and choose to have you later and on way more solid ground, I would do that. People who don't have money who have kids at your age just continue the cycle of poverty. I mean, I couldn't keep us in our own house in Chicago. When other kids were getting piano lessons, you were crouching outside their window to get free piano lessons. Alright? You couldn't go to college. I don't even know how you would consider doing this.
Harris: You know, at the moment, I swear I would do it just to piss you off.
Darlene: Oh, that is so mature.
Harris: But I'm not gonna do that because I'm a lot more responsible than you think I am. So, I'm gonna continue thinking very carefully about this.
Darlene: Yeah, at this point, I have a lot of questions about you "carefully" considering anything. Oh, that's right. Go up to my childhood room that you'll pass on to your pregnant kid, and then they'll pass it on to their pregnant kids. And while they're watching the flying cars go by the window, they'll wonder if maybe you should've listened to their great-grandmother.
Wow! Darlene recognizes the future generations that could come from this child and truly believes they’d wish Harris had chosen abortion so they wouldn’t exist? That’s dark.
And yes, Darlene, you are indeed telling Harris you regret having her, and that’s sad. You couldn’t have had her later. It doesn’t work that way. This child already exists. It’s not a matter of putting off motherhood at this point. Harris is already a mother.
Also, being born into poverty doesn’t mean you’re going to continue the cycle. I had a child at 16, and I beat the odds and overcame poverty. My daughter is now a beautiful, bright, 33-year-old, financially successful young woman. She graduated summa cum laude from George Mason University, was accepted into many prestigious law schools, including Georgetown Law and earned a $40,000+ scholarship into Mason’s law program.
Every single child conceived deserves the chance to make a successful future for themselves. Thankfully, Harris’s aunt and brother are supportive of Harris choosing life and offer their encouragement:
Becky: I hear you're eating for two now. News travels fast. I also heard that you're undecided.
Harris: I'm lucky I even live somewhere where I have that option, right?
Becky: Ha, amen.
Harris: It doesn't make it any easier. I'm trying to make an adult decision, but I still just feel like an idiot kid who got pregnant.
Becky: Well, you kinda are.
Harris: What do you think I should do?
Becky: Okay, I'm not gonna tell you what to do, but I do know, if Beverly Rose were 17 right now, going to school and pursuing a career would be way easier.
Harris: Hmm. I never thought about it like that. So, what you're saying is you wish you'd had her around my age?
Becky: Oh, hell yeah. I'd have twice as much energy. And I bet Beverly Rose wishes that, too. Nobody wants to play tag with someone lying down. It's just two people laying there tapping each other.
Mark: I come bearing a slice of Whole Foods organic apple pie from work. Someone left it in the bathroom, but it's still got the seal on it, so it's good.
Harris: Thanks. Ugh! I'm so stressed out trying to figure out what to do.
Mark: But isn't there some part of you that's a little excited? I-I mean, it could be a good thing.
Harris: You think I should have it?
Mark: I don't know. I just think you'd be a great mom.
Harris: Really? You're the first person who's even thought about what kind of mom I would be.
Mark: You'd be a great mom because you've already been one. When Dad left and Mom had to go work full-time, you were the one who woke me up, made my lunch, got me to school. Sure, sometimes it was just a can of olives and baking chocolate...but still, I always had something.
Harris: That's true. And, hey, look how tall you are. I clearly did something right.
Mark: Yeah. It'd be criminal if some kid coming into this world didn't get you as a parent.
Surprisingly, despite being very far left (having stolen her grandfather’s gun and selling it to the police, and pushing for pornographic books to be available in her little brother’s school library), Harris thankfully chooses life, much to her mother’s chagrin. But Darlene ends up doing the right thing and offers her daughter her full support.
We’re thankful for the pro-life aspects of this episode, but they don’t excuse the parts that encouraged abortion. Every life has intrinsic worth, no matter the circumstances of its conception or life after its birth. This family may struggle financially, but this baby has just as much of a right to exist as the rest of them.