When Nancy Rodriguez signed up to be on the Dallas-based season of Love Is Blind, she had no idea she’d be remembered for sharing her views on abortion. Season 3 was filmed in summer 2021, long before the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ended the national right to an abortion in the United States. “Timing is insane,” Rodriguez tells Elite Daily. “Obviously we didn’t know Roe v. Wade was going to be overturned.”
That summer, Rodriguez was mainly thinking about her relationship with Bartise Bowden, whom she got engaged to in the pods. The two had a seven-year age gap — Bowden was 25 at the time, while Rodriguez was 31 — which prompted ongoing conversations about family planning. During one interaction in Episode 6, Rodriguez brought up genetic testing during pregnancy. “What would you do if you found out your child had a birth defect and you could abort the pregnancy?” she asked. Bowden responded, “F*ck no, I’d keep the baby,” kicking off a dialogue about their differing views.
Rodriguez approached the topic with curiosity, asking follow-up questions and sharing her perspective (that she was adamantly pro-choice) without negating Bowden’s feelings. For many viewers, watching this scene was a revelation — it’s rare to see abortion discussed with such nuance on a reality dating show, no less one airing on a massive platform like Netflix. Yet the issue is extremely common in everyday life: Among U.S. women ages 30-34, approximately 15 out of every 1,000 choose to have an abortion every year. Over the course of their reproductive years, nearly one in four will have an abortion by age 45, per the Guttmacher Institute.
“In a time when abortion bans are increasing by the day and access gets tougher and tougher, seeing these kinds of values on the national stage warms our hearts,” the National Women’s Law Center tweeted on Nov. 2. “Nancy gave #LoveIsBlind viewers an example of how to talk to your anti-abortion loved ones.” Though she may not have meant to write a roadmap, Rodriguez is proud of what her story has meant to others. Here, she speaks to Elite Daily about what she hopes people take away from that conversation.
Elite Daily: Can you share how your life experiences have shaped your views on abortion?
Nancy Rodriguez: I was raised Catholic and very religious. Abortion was not a conversation in our household — all I knew was that you were supposed to keep a baby no matter what. I really started to consider more of what it meant for my body when I was an egg donor, because I went through the process of genetic testing. Knowing that these parents were struggling with having children, I was so blessed to be part of that journey by providing them the one-half of genetic material they needed.
Then, at the beginning of my career as a speech pathologist, I was working with children who were medically fragile and had other genetic disorders, and many were from low-income families. That automatically gave me a different perspective on what you learn in a textbook out of grad school, and having experiences with those families helped shape my feelings today.
ED: I was so impressed by the way you navigated the conversation with Bartise. How did you learn to speak about your feelings on abortion so openly?
NR: I pride myself on being a good listener. As a speech pathologist, that's probably the biggest thing I had to learn — it was either listening to parents or listening to the children I was working with. I know who I am and I’m proud of who I am, so anything someone else says, whether or not I agree, will not faze me because it’s not personal.
Being truly aware of who you are can help you not be as reactive, so you’re able to give the other person an open space where they won’t be judged. Bartise and I were two adults having a discussion, and we were respectful in the way we shared our opinions, even though they were very different.
ED: Did you plan in advance to bring up the topic of abortion with Bartise, or did it just happen?
NR: It happened organically. Initially, we were talking about family planning: When are you ready to have kids? How many kids do we want? For me, there’s no issue I would want to speak about if I didn’t have knowledge about it already. I know where my boundaries are, I know the insight that I have. It’s about the experiences that I’ve lived and where I stand. So having the conversation about family planning led to, does he know about genetic testing? And he didn’t. Does he know about the risk of pregnancies the older you are and what that entails?
ED: The second time we saw abortion brought up is when you were talking with Bartise’s family, who also didn’t agree with your perspective on abortion rights. Did you come away from that conversation feeling that you were being heard?
NR: Yeah, absolutely. Obviously with the edit, you get only a snippet, and I think you got a good representation of what I said. After that scene, I pulled his mom to the side and said, “I just want to make sure that you hear what I’m saying or see if I can do anything to reassure you.” And she said, “No, you spoke so well and I hear what you’re saying.” We left that conversation, at least from what I thought, in a good place. Watching the show, I saw Bartise mention that he didn’t care if he had his sister’s approval, because at the end it was his choice. So I was like, ‘Wait, does that mean your sister didn’t approve?’ I was confused about that.
At the end of the day, it’s my body, it’s my choice, and there’s nothing people can judge from me expressing how I feel.
I hope this opens doors for conversations in people’s relationships.
ED: Did you think about the potential repercussions of talking about abortion on a widely televised platform?
NR: No, at the time I was thinking about interviewing my fiancé to see if he could be my husband. I wanted to know, can I have a disagreement with this man? If so, how will he treat me? How will he react to it? It might not be something he wants to hear, but does he shut me down or does he embrace me? I felt really embraced.
ED: I’m curious what the public reaction has been like to you discussing this topic.
NR: All over the world, people are hearing my voice, and they’re hearing it as if it was theirs. Some of the most heartfelt messages I’ve received are the ones where people are thanking me for sharing my story or giving insight into what they’ve gone through. These private voice memos are close to my heart because people are sharing things that are very personal. And I’m like, “Girl, I’m a stranger, but thank you for opening up to me and sharing your story.” Even in my own community, so many Latinas are reaching out and feeling empowered by hearing me say these words that can be so taboo.
ED: You live in Texas, a state where abortion rights have been drastically curtailed in recent years. Can you talk about how the changing political landscape in your home state has impacted your views and beliefs?
NR: My circle of friends and immediate people are very supportive. They might have different opinions, but they know who I am at my core. I actually had this conversation with my dad earlier today, and I was like, “Dad, so… that scene.” He hasn’t watched some of the latest episodes, so I brought it up to him because he didn’t know anything about the conversation.
That opened up a conversation with my dad for the very first time about sexual reproduction and what it means. And I think being in an environment like Texas, where we are completely restricted of our own choice, really does empower me to continue to have these conversations with my loved ones.
ED: When you watched these episodes, what were you hoping people would take away?
NR: I was hoping people would watch that interaction between me and Bartise and see how being a good listener can really carry a conversation. I hope this opens doors for conversations in people’s relationships, whether it’s with their parents, their partners, or their friends. Kindness really does carry us through so many things in life, and leading with that mentality allows you to be graceful, judgment-free, and open-hearted to listen.
To go through this experience on Love Is Blind, I truly opened my heart, my mind, and my soul. And people see that. Being so vulnerable is scary, but if it means I’m touching the lives of people all over the world, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.