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.
If pro-lifers discuss facts about fetal development and plead that parenthood isn't a prison sentence, somehow that unfairly interferes with "choice."
Montgomery uncorks another pro-abortion lecture at the bar: "When it comes to abortion, everybody has an opinion. Everybody's going to want to tell you what to do. If this were 1972, it would have been a back alley and not my elevator you would have collapsed in. You didn't have a choice. Now you do." She claims to Patty "everyone else is background noise." This is not an offering of "choice." This is an urgent appeal for an abortion.
Of course, the doctor added those fiendish and violent pro-lifers are always ruining the Era of Choice.
"It's still hard. And even after you make the most difficult and personal decision that there is, it's still not safe. Because you have some fanatic who claims to value life who can walk into an abortion clinic and blow it up."
It's the ultimate Orwellian argument. We live in a country where 4,000 abortions are performed daily and it's the pro-lifers who are killers.
Just as upsetting as this dramatic smear that the abortion-opposing side is dominated by violent fanatics was the complete collapse of the pro-life character. At the episode's end, there is Naomi, supportively holding the woman's hand as Addison prepares to carve up the baby (off-screen, of course). When the butchering is complete, pro-abort Addison thanks Naomi for her support of Patty.
"Pro-life," Naomi replies. "I was there for both of you," and concedes, "You helped that woman."
Hollywood would never end an episode or a movie with a woman deeply troubled by her abortion converting to Christianity -- even though that's exactly what happened with Norma McCorvey, the "Roe" in Roe vs. Wade. They'd never have an abortionist switch sides -- as did the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson. In Hollywood, the pro-lifers fold within 60 minutes. It is truly the land of make-believe.