The television program “Boston Legal” tackled the issue of abortion and achieved a more balanced and nuanced discussion of this incredibly complex issue than any I have heard on the topic in quite some time. It was the kind of complex presentation of the information on an issue that is necessary if we are going to make progress in considering the difficult and multifaceted issues that require our attention.
I would like to believe that the blogosphere can provide forums to treat issues as contentious as abortion with the thoughtfulness needed.
The writers of this show chose to pit characters against each other on the issue and evolve the complexities through the narrative. The protagonists included a pregnant 15 year old girl, her pro-life mother, a male pro-choice defense attorney, his pro-life best friend, and his female pro-choice co-counsel. The characters wrestled with the issues of a woman’s reproductive freedom, parental responsibility on the part of teenage mothers and their parents, gender selection via abortion, the beginning of life, the lasting emotional impact on both men and women of choosing abortion, and the ability and inability of legal institutions to implement mechanisms to appropriately address all of these competing factors.
For an entertainment piece it was an impressive effort. We can only hope that with more time for deep discourse and a more serious focus, those of us in places like this one can do at least as well dealing with this and other issues that resist being divided into simple black-and-white camps.