If you have never seen the movie, In the Heat of the Night (1967), please be aware that there are spoilers below
It took them a few days, but I got this added to the IMBD trivia listing for In the Heat of the Night (1967) under “SPOILERS”. I’m actually surprised they approved it, because though I believe it is totally a valid assessment, I thought it would be too controversial for them to add.
I actually think this is an important assessment to attach to this movie, especially at this point in political time. Both the racial aspect of the movie and the pro-choice aspect of the movie are essential to the story, except one has never been mentioned or discussed.
Spoilers: The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
While this film is typically regarded as a great film about changing race relations during the 1960s, it is never considered a “Pro-Choice” film. Looked at in that way, it’s worth considering that all the consequential action in the story – the murder, Tibbs being Shanghaied off the train by Gillespie, the racist assaults and epithets and even the final solving of the crime – all come back to one 16-year-old girl needing an abortion, and no legal, private, confidential abortion service being available for her. Had abortion been legal in Mississippi in 1967, there would have been no murder, no robbery, no Tibbs-Gillespie drama, and no story.