Jan 6, 2006

NBC's ER--Anti Catholic Episode?

Did any of you see ER last night? It contained two situations surrounding abortion. One, is a young girl was found to be pregnant after being raped (it sounded like gang rape too) at a party after blacking out. The second one is a 37 year old Abby Lockhart (played by the beautiful Maura Tierney) is found to be pregnant and struggles with the responsibility of motherhood and the fear that her child might suffer from bi-polar disorder.

To summarize quickly: Luka (Goran Visnjic) is the doctor in charge of the care of the young girl while Neela (Parminder Nagra) is the treating physician. The parents of the young pregnant girl intend for her to carry the child to term because of their "Christian" beliefs (it is never stated that they are Catholic). Neela, not aware initially of the rape, berates the parents for their choice and after speaking with this scared girl realizes that she has doubts about whether or not to keep the baby. Luka informs Neela to back off and she requests that another attending physician be consulted who is not Catholic.

Whoa! I had a pretty vile reaction to this. Someone over at Amy Welborn's blog made a great point how the President on the West Wing would never say, "I'd like to hear from someone who isn't Jewish about National Security." He'd be buried in the press as an anti-semite.

The writers of ER often err on the side of "what could happen in a hospital" and I would venture to say that this situation presents itself more often than not. The fact that a pro-life family was shown at all is actually a good sign. Now they made the father and mother look like unsophisticated idiots (well, the father anyway) so it's not all good news.

Still, I found that Luka (the doctor in question here) was going through the struggle that presents itself to people in both situations, which I also found to be a good thing to portray on television. Perhaps the producers were more trying to show the difference between making a personal choice and having that choice thrust upon someone else. Which is what happens to the daughter who is forced to live out the decision of her parents even if it is not her choice and the choice of Abby (Maura Tierney's character who is pregnant by Luka) who will force Luka (who is the father of her baby) to live with her choice to abort or not to abort. I was pleasently pleased with her choice not to abort-- something that wouldn't have happened in a TV series like Maude 20 years ago.

As someone who has been inside more hospitals than I care to remember these kinds of issues present themselves every day to those who work there. While I think there was a bit of anti-Catholic bias in some of the writing I would also counter that there is a lot of anti-catholic bias in the medical community. So maybe art imitates life here....

And maybe that's a good thing since it will bring to light some of this bias that exists and forces people to ask the big questions of themselves.

Besides it was a lot more balanced than 60 Minutes was in their recent story on Catholic hospitals and their policy on not giving the morning after pill to rape victims and the policy of the state that might force them to do so from now on. It was pretty anti-Catholic and reported by Leslie Stahl. Probably ran about 6 weeks or so ago.

The fact that we're all talking about this today is possibly a good result of both shows. How do we defend the vulnerable--both mother and child in these instances. It seems to me that we don't have all the bases covered with any of the choices that can be made.

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