By James Tillman
WASHINGTON, DC, October 26, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Last Friday's episode of Law & Order on NBC, entitled "Dignity," has infuriated pro-abortionists while pleasantly surprising pro-lifers with an unexpectedly even-handed treatment of the issue of abortion.
Ripping its plot from recent headlines, "Dignity" begins with the murder of late-term abortionist Dr. Walter Benning (Matthew Boston) during a church service. Although the episode has a disclaimer stating that the story is fictional, its initial outline closely matches the case of the late-term abortionist Dr. George Tiller, who was shot and killed in a church in Wichita, Kansas, on May 31st.
After the murderer, Wayne Grogan is captured and confesses to the crime, while his defense attorney, Roger Jenkins (Richard Thomas), argues that the killing was justified because Grogan was acting in defense of someone else - namely, an unborn infant whom Benning was going to abort.
In the end Grogan is found guilty of the murder; but over the course of the episode a host of the arguments and issues surrounding abortion are covered in a manner unusually sympathetic to the pro-life cause.
As Dave Andrusko writes on the NRLC's website: "What makes the Law & Order episode so riveting is that virtually every pro-life argument you knew you would never hear on a network program is a part of 'Dignity.'"
"More important, it occurred to me as I listened in utter astonishment that each of these observations could have been presented in a way that was artificial, forced, or (as so often is the case with network portraits of pro-lifers) something that you would expect from an idiot. None of that was the case. These were real flesh-and-blood people, not caricatures."
Early in the episode, for instance, Detectives Lupo and Bernard argue with each other over abortion. Lupo says that forcing an 11-year old rape victim to give birth is unthinkable, to which Bernard responds: "You got it backwards, man! The horrible thing is the rape! Not the bringing of a life into the world."
He continues by pointing out that he himself was born to an unwed mother, and that Lupo very nearly had another partner.
Similarly, when Executive Assistant District Attorney, Michael Cutter argues with District Attorney Jack McCoy about whether they should give Grogan a plea bargain, Cutter compares abortion to slavery and Grogan to John Brown. He continues by arguing that Roe v. Wade conformed but to the science of its day, and that it deserves another look.
When witnesses begin to take the stand, however, the contrast between the pro-abortion and pro-life position only grows.
One abortionist, called as witness for the prosecution, says that the life of the disabled child Benning was going to abort would be without dignity. He continues to say that even if politicians make abortion illegal and "bow to the hypocrites and fools" of the pro-life movement, he would continue to perform abortions despite the law.
Perhaps the most surprising issue the episode raised is the connection of abortion with infanticide. Over the course of the case, the defense, desiring to show that Benning was a murderer, calls a witness to testify how a breathing, born-alive infant was killed by Dr. Benning.
"The boy was crying a little cry, moving his arms and legs," she says. "Dr. Benning cut the umbilical cord; then he took the surgical scissors and inserted it into the base of the baby's skull."
Several similarly gruesome, real-life cases of infanticide involving abortionists have occurred in recent years. In one case that drives close to home, an abortionist working for George Tiller, Shelley Sella, was accused of stabbing a born-alive infant in the ribcage until the baby died. In addition, former nurse turned pro-life activist Jill Stanek has also related that while working at a hospital in Illinois, numerous babies born alive after failed abortions were simply left to die in the "soiled utility room."
Pro-abortion groups have responded to the Law & Order episode with outrage that the show would feature an abortionist modeled on Dr. Tiller in a less than beatific light.
Charlotte Taft writes that "NBC cannot hide behind the words" by stating that the story is fictitious. For the media to make a negative story so blatantly ripped off the death of "St. George," as she dubs Tiller, is to murder him again. "There is no balance here," she says.
Kate Harding complained on Salon.com that the episode features only two groups: "Anti-choicers, who believe fetuses' rights trump women's, and the pseudo-pro-choicers, who are conveniently persuaded to agree with them by the end of the episode."
"Dignity" may be watched on iTunes.