By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood May 17, 2011 at 2:52AM
This past week, Private Practice created by Shonda Rhimes stood up again for a woman's right to choose. This episode was written by Jennifer Cecil and Barbie Kligman.
Here's what happened. A woman (Patty) walks into the doctor after she's had an abortion because she has discomfort. Turns out she is still pregnant. This is a rare occurrence, and the pregnancy is much more complicated because the fetus is now 19 weeks. Now I've been told that the show got the medical info correct, but to me what is equally important here is the continuing conversation this show has on the topic.
Addison Montgomery played by Kate Walsh is the ob/gyn. She battles politically and morally with Naomi Bennett an infertility specialist (who by the way wanted her teenage daughter to have an abortion when she got pregnant) played by Audra McDonald. Some of the dialogue:
Addison: My new patient is 19 weeks pregnant and wants an abortion.
Naomi: A partial birth abortion?
A: Partial birth is not a medical term, it is political and you know it.
This show time and again has given realistic and thoughtful scenarios on the issue.
Another scene is in the bar where Patty works and she is conflicted about whether to have the abortion she wants because Dr. Bennett has crossed the line and counseled her against going ahead with the procedure with Addison was not present. That scene felt like the clinic became a crisis pregnancy center. Here's what Addison says to Patty.
I can't tell you what to do. I can only tell you that it is your choice.
Patty, when it comes to abortion everybody has an opinion. Everybody's going to tell you what to do. If this were 1972 it would have been a back alley and not my elevator that you would have collapsed in because back then you didn't have a choice. Now you do. But it's still hard. And even after you make the most difficult and personal decision 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.
Addison is conflicted about performing the procedure. She had an abortion 6 years earlier and many of the recent episodes have focused on her wanting to have a kid and her fertility issues. She says it was the right choice for her at the time, but she is conflicted.
Here's Addison's commentary (to Naomi) before she performs the procedure:
Why can't Patty get what she needs, a safe and legal abortion without judgement? Why does she have to go through this? Why do I have to go through this? I hate what I am about to do but I support Patty's right to choose. It is not enough to just have an opinion because in a nation of over 300 million people there are only 1700 abortion providers. And I am one of them.
Kudos to the folks at Private Practice for not being scared off of this very heated topic. The season finale airs this Thursday evening.