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