The season eight opener saw a young woman come to Nonnatus House for help after a back-street abortion went wrong. Nurse Valerie Dyer (Jennifer Kirby) did all she could to help her as she passed the foetus in the bathroom, and locked the door to ensure that Sergeant Woolf, who was downstairs drinking tea, didn’t clock what was going on (the series is set in 1964, when abortion was still illegal in England).
It highlighted an issue that still carries great weight today, as activists in Northern Ireland ramp up their fight to legalise abortion in the wake of the Republic of Ireland’s successful referendum last year.
“This backstreet butchers storyline is absolutely heartbreaking,” user @EmisonKana wrote. “The hell women had to go thru back then isn’t right. It could go back to these ways for so many.”
@Emrobros said that the episode was a good example of the show’s depth, and lamented its reputation as light entertainment.
“It bothers me so much that people write off Call the Midwife as a sugary, rose-tinted period drama for a Sunday evening when it is consistently one of the best written dramas on TV that doesn’t shy away from the struggles women have gone through and are STILL going through today,” she wrote.
Charlotte Houston added: “dreadful to think that in this day and age women in Northern Ireland still don’t have access to safe and legal abortion services.”
It bothers me so much that people write off #CallTheMidwife as a sugary, rose-tinted period drama for a Sunday evening when it is consistently one of the best written dramas on tv that doesn't shy away from the struggles women have gone through and are STILL going through today.
Possibly the most emotional episode ever, and the writers never shy away from controversial story lines or highlighting social issues of the time. Such sensitivity and compassion shown. #CallTheMidwife remains my favourite BBC drama.
It's worth being reminded from time to time of what things were like for women who needed a termination not all that long ago. And why we should not ever allow our hard-won rights to be eroded. #CallTheMidwife