On the May 12 episode of ABC's "Private Practice," Dr. Addison Montgomery (played by actress Kate Walsh, a real-life Planned Parenthood activist) spewed the strongest pro-abortion -- "pro-choice" -- rhetoric as she performed a partial-birth abortion on a woman who thought she'd already had an abortion two months before.
"I hate what I'm about to do, but I support Patty's right to choose," the doctor declares. "It is not enough just to have an opinion, because in a nation of over 300 million people, there are only 1,700 abortion providers. And I'm one of them."
The poor, poor killer of babies. ABC should have cued the orchestra to swell up and champion the few and the proud, followed by the on-screen credit, "This message brought to you by Planned Parenthood." It was that blatant.
There were no cheers for this very special episode from the usual liberal TV critics, and feminist groups weren't shaking pom-poms either. But there's probably a Planned Parenthood "Maggie Award for Media Excellence" in ABC's future. Walsh won this award in 2008 for her "extensive advocacy efforts on behalf of affordable family planning services and real sex education."
The tension in the "Private Practice" plot came from the show's pro-life character, African-American fertility specialist Dr. Naomi Bennett. When she first protests the partial-birth abortion, Addison argues, "Partial birth is not a medical term, it's a political term, and you know it."
Naomi replies, "I don't care what you call it, you can't do it."
Another female character chimes in, "Yes, she can. It's at the doctor's discretion. And it is legal."
Naturally, ABC wasn't about to be very specific about how grisly the partial-birth abortion is, as Addison euphemistically proclaims to the patient it involves "forceps and suction," and "the fetus would be removed." Naomi later protests that it crushed a baby's skull. But she's the controversial one.
When pregnant Patty comes to the office to consult with Addison, Naomi tries to talk her out of an abortion, telling her that her baby, at 19 weeks in the womb, can hear her mother talk and be startled by loud noises and has vocal cords and fingerprints. With a gentle smile, she insists, "Consider carrying the baby to term."
This puts Patty on the fence, infuriating Addison. The scene shifts to Patty's workplace, a bar, where Addison arrives to talk her back into the abortion.
"She had no right to upset you like that," she insists.