The American entertainment industry has never been comfortable with the act of abortion. Film or television characters might consider the procedure, but even on the most libertine programs (a “Mad Men,” a “Sex and the City”), they’re more likely to have a change of heart than actually go through with it. Reality TV thrives on shocking scenes and subjects — extreme pregnancies and surgeries, suburban polygamists and the gay housewives of New York — but abortion remains a little too controversial, and a little bit too real.
This is even more true in fiction for teens, where, given that genre's penchant for melodrama and themes of personal crisis, you would think abortion would show up with some frequency. I free-text-searched the word "abortion" through the Horn Book Guide, and while I found solid representation of the topic in nonfiction, there were only a dozen occurrences of the word in reviews of all hard cover fiction for youth published in the last twenty years. Don't you think that is strange? It's true that the heyday of the problem novel came before the Guide started keeping track of such things, but even from back then I can only remember a book called Unbirthday, a paperback original from Jean Feiwel's great Flare imprint at Avon, published in 1982. It's also true that the Guide doesn't review paperbacks, and I'm guessing Gossip Girl and her ilk must have encountered the subject a time or two.
YA authors and publishers don't shy away from much, which is why they tend to get into trouble, but why is Ellen Hopkins the only one trying to get in trouble with this one?