- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Shonda Rhimes, the creative talent behind “Scandal,” told The Hollywood Reporter recently that she will “forever” appreciate R&B legend Aretha Franklin for approving the use of her music for a scene in the ABC drama in 2015 where the lead character, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), procures an abortion.

Ms. Rhimes made the remarks in an interview pegged to the forthcoming 100th episode of the program, which will air Thursday night. 

“I don’t think abortion had ever been presented as an emancipated woman’s option before. And it’s set to ‘Silent Night,’” actress Bellamy Young told THR, going on to hail producers for having “[t]he balls to pick that song.”

That’s when Ms. Rhimes explained, “I kept going back to our music supervisor, ‘We sure Aretha Franklin is OK with this?’ I wanted to make sure Aretha knew what the scene was about.”

“Her people said I was fine and to stop asking,” the “Scandal” showrunner added. “It made me love her forever because then I could be like, ‘Aretha Franklin, who sings a lot of gospel music, is very supportive of this.’

As THR noted in November 2015 prior to the episode’s airing, Ms. Rhimes had explored the topic of abortion rights in both a previous “Scandal” episode as well as another ABC drama she created, “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Just last Thursday, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards announced via her Twitter account that Ms. Rhimes was joining the organization’s board of directors.

“It’s not every day that a gifted storyteller who speaks truth to power every Thursday night joins the @PPFA board. Thank you @shondarhimes!” wrote the chief executive of the nation’s largest provider of surgical abortions.

• Ken Shepherd can be reached at kshepherd@washingtontimes.com.

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