Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pro-Life and Order

Friday night my partner was on the couch watching television and I was only half listening from my study when strains of virulent pro-life rhetoric reached my ears. Was she watching FOX news? No. She was, in fact, watching the most recent episode of Law and Order in which a late-term abortion doctor is murdered and almost the entire episode is spent trying to convince the viewer that the murder might have sort of maybe been justified except for that niggling little detail that murder is illegal. Sure, the doctor's murderer is found guilty in the end, but not before pro-choice ideologies have been (speciously) rendered flawed and amoral. Cops and lawyers alike engaging in debates about reproductive rights and the "right to life" is all fine and good, but graphic descriptions of the murdered doctor stabbing a newly-born infant in the back of the neck with scissors during a botched abortion, offered as evidence of abortion's immorality... Noooooo, not heavy-handed at all. Or are we to believe that all abortion doctors are perfectly willing and capable of stabbing living infants to death? Not to mention that the way evidence was presented (and misrepresented) in this episode didn't even make sense. It was the most preachy thing I've seen on television for a long time and clearly the writers/creators/producers were more concerned with making their points (still not entirely clear) than telling a good story. I was thoroughly disappointed. And aghast.

Kate Harding over at Salon does a great job of breaking down the episode point-for-point. And, since I only saw the latter half of the episode (its train wreck-like quality bringing me out from my study to sit stunned on the couch), I'll leave the rest of the critique to her:
On Friday night's "Law & Order," the abortion debate was represented by two separate, yet equally important, groups: The anti-choicers, who believe fetuses' rights trump women's, and the pseudo-pro-choicers, who are conveniently persuaded to agree with them by the end of the episode.

That sound? It's my head exploding.

Despite the usual "This story is fiction, any resemblance, blah blah blah" disclaimer, the episode was blatantly "ripped from the headlines" about Dr. George Tiller's assassination by an anti-choice activist in May. Our fictional victim, Dr. Bening, is a late-term abortion provider who's already survived one attempt on his life and is shot to death at his church, just as Dr. Tiller was. But in an episode titled "Dignity," Tiller's memory, remaining late-term abortion providers, and women who choose to terminate pregnancies are afforded none. The writers made a weak pretense of "balance" by having two of the series regulars -- Detective Lupo and Assistant D.A. Rubirosa -- espouse pro-choice views, but both are ultimately shamed into thinking they just might be wrong. See how even-handed?
Click here to read the rest.


Dr. Jay SW said...

I was actually gonna e-mail you the link to the Salon article--the video there's horrifying: basically this woman, who claims to be pro-choice, no less, saying she feels immoral prosecuting somebody for first degree murder because he performed abortions.

More evidence that "liberal Hollywood" (in terms of producers and film executives using TV and film to push political agendas, as opposed to stars' photo ops at political fundraisers) is as much a myth as the "liberal media"...

Dr. Jay SW said...

Big correction: "because the victim performed abortions"

vpass said...

I too was quite shocked by the episode. I was hoping at the end, and maybe stupidly expected that Rubirosa was going to remind Cutter, that as he doesn't have a uterus it is all rather more theoretical from where he sits in judgment, but sadly that did not happen. The episode did have one redeeming quality, Lupo's channeling of the late Lennie Briscoe with his hilarious cut-away line in the church.