Why Kerry Washington Was 'Proud as a Woman' About Scandal Abortion Reveal

Shawna Malcom
KERRY WASHINGTON, scandal, midseason premiere,
Kevin Estrada/ABC

Scandal delivered its most shocking twist yet when, in the winter finale, Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) had an abortion before breaking up with boyfriend Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) and moving out of the White House. Here, Washington opens up about the controversial episode and teases the hotly anticipated return of Shonda Rhimes’s drama.

How did you feel about the finale?
Our writers are so courageous and bold, and I thought that was another great example of them really honoring the truth of a character’s experience and not being afraid of how viewers might have a hard time dealing with it.

Abortion is rarely depicted on TV, especially with a lead character.
We did it in Season 4 with the naval officer who was raped, and then to have Olivia make the same choice was groundbreaking. I think it’s important because, as difficult a decision as that is, if we don’t allow the stories of women’s choice to be told, then the danger exists for there to be shame around these choices. I felt really proud as a woman to be part of that episode. And I don’t say “proud” because I’m glorifying Olivia’s choice, but because I believe in her ability to make that choice.

RELATED: Scandal Added to the PaleyFest 2106 Lineup

How will Olivia be affected by her decision?
She’s different. The journey she’s been through was challenging, and when we see her again in the [premiere], she’s a changed woman.

Olivia and Fitz’s breakup seemed pretty final. Could they still have a future?
I put nothing past our writers!

Olivia told Mellie (Bellamy Young) she’d help her become president. Will she keep her word?
I can’t answer that! [Laughs] But I think it’s interesting that these women are more similar than different. They’re both smart and powerful, and they both have such complicated relationships with Fitz, as well as beautiful, loving relationships with Fitz. I’m really intrigued to [explore] those similarities.

Scandal, Thursday, Feb. 11, 9/8c, ABC