Push Girls: Disability, Abortion, and Friendship

Posted on 8.28.2012 by Kelly

For those of you who are looking for a distraction from the neverending onslaught of patriarchal bullshit from politicians and pop culture alike, I have a recommendation: Push Girls. Push Girls is a reality show from the Sundance Channel which began airing earlier this summer and follows the lives of a group of friends in LA who all have spinal cord injuries: Angela, Mia, Auti, Tiphany, and Chelsie. I first heard about the show in May from the Bloody Show blog, but I wasn't able to check it out until I had access to cable while traveling this summer. As described in the blog, Push Girls “is neither focusing solely in on disability nor ignoring it but instead include it as one dynamic” of the women's lives.

The show focuses a lot on relationships: romantic, sexual, and friendly. The support and advice of the group of friends is a central pillar in the show as each woman deals with and discusses aspects of her life such as breakups, dating, sex, family strife, the pursuit of new careers, apartment searching, and athletic training. The group ranges in age from 20-42 and the women are ethnically diverse. They all appear to be fairly privileged economically, though the continuing financial troubles of Angela, who has recently separated from her husband, as well as the struggled past of Auti are threads throughout the season. While I enjoyed the more playful elements of the show, such as a ski trip the five women took, I was also impressed by the way the show has tackled reproductive health issues, such as in episode 4, “Hope It's Not Too Late.”

Episode 4 centers around Auti's attempts to get pregnant at age 42. Her anxieties are reflected in the title of the episode, as she is concerned that she may not be able to have a baby due to her age as well as her paralysis. She also reveals during conversations with Mia, Angela, and her fertility doctor that she has had two miscarriages and also had an abortion eighteen years ago. As she describes, “Just a year after my accident my mother passed away from cancer. I was an emotional wreck, I was in a bad relationship, and I got pregnant.” While she seems to understand that she was not in a good place to take care of a child at the time, Auti clearly needs to process her past decision. While she doesn't explicitly say she feels ashamed or regretful of her decision, at one point she says, “I just hope they didn't mess up anything down there,” seemingly blaming herself for her subsequent miscarriages. Mia, Angela, and the doctor do a great job of giving her affirmation and helping her to move past her guilt. Angela tells her that she is “very powerful” and that she “will support [Auti] any way that I possibly can.” When Auti tearfully divulges her miscarriages and abortion to the fertility specialist, expecting her to connect the two, the doctor barely blinks and says, “Obviously the accident didn't immediately change your fertility.” Auti is reassured that her age, not her previous abortion or her paralysis, is the largest influence on her fertility and it is discovered that she still has eggs.

Overall I felt that the episode dealt with many reproductive health issues such as infertility, disability and pregnancy, miscarriage, and abortion in a thoughtful and real way. While this episode ends after Auti's appointment, her attempts to get pregnant are mentioned throughout the rest of the season. I am interested to see the discussions to come whether Auti ends up getting pregnant or not. Push Girls is an entertaining and engaging show that goes beyond the usual reality show drama to bring us the real-life pleasures and problems of an interesting group of women, and I would definitely recommend checking it out.