Abortion On A Sitcom? Bea Arthur's Dilemma On 'Maude'

By Kellar Ellsworth
Maude's Beatrice Arthur (as Maude Findlay), 1975. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

In November 1972, the Bea Arthur sitcom Maude took on the topic of abortion, which was as much a hot-button issue then as now. The two-part story "Maude's Dilemma" found the main character, a 47-year-old grandmother, unexpectedly pregnant, and pondering her options -- at the same time the U.S. Supreme Court was pondering the landmark case Roe v. Wade. 

Maude was a hit show from the beginning, and would finish its first season in fourth place as measured by Nielsen. For a new show, tackling a topic like abortion might have been a risky move, but Maude was created by Norman Lear as a spinoff of his wildly successful All In The Family, a sitcom that was known for challenging its audience to laugh at uncomfortable topics.