Cover Story

The plots thicken

"The plots thicken" Continued...

Issue: "The plots thicken," Jan. 12, 2008

"Not as a general rule," he says, referring to murder.

She presses him, "Just for unborn children?"

"Yes," he says.

Later, House and the woman discuss God. (She believes in Him; House doesn't.) The episode is remarkable because, though House is always condescending, the scriptwriters allow the woman to state her faith-based, pro-life case without making her seem silly or blindly hyper-religious. Inexplicably, though, the woman has the abortion.

"House does not shrink from controversy," said Robert Knight, director of the Virginia-based Culture and Media Institute. "And the most controversial thing you can do on TV is challenge political correctness on social issues."

An April 3, 2007, installment of House went further. This time, Dr. House and his team treat Emma, a photographer about 19 weeks pregnant with a life-threatening heart condition. House's basic message: The "fetus" is threatening your life. Abort or die. But Emma refuses to abort and demands that House save them both.

House's boss, physician Lisa Cuddy, refuses to back House's recommendation to terminate. That sends the medical team, now led by Cuddy, in search of new treatment. Later, when House agrees to participate in exploratory in utero surgery, the hand of the "fetus" emerges from the incision and briefly grasps House's finger. He freezes in astonishment and-in something wholly alien to his grizzled character-rapt wonder.

"It was some of the most shocking footage on abortion ever seen on TV," Knight said of the reenactment of the controversial 1999 photo in which a 21-week-old baby seems to reach from his mother's womb during prenatal surgery and grasp the surgeon's hand.

"House was stunned," Knight said. And, in a stunningly un-Hollywood development, House thereafter refers to the "fetus" as a "baby."

Emma thanks House after he saves mother and child. Thank Dr. Cuddy, he replies. He would have killed the baby to save the mother. And so House remains House: Prickly, pragmatic-and pro-choice.

It isn't as though he or any of Hollywood's cast of more open-minded characters seems ready to picket Planned Parenthood. And pro-abortion messages still crop up in film and television. But filmmakers today seem less willing to blindly endorse the pro-abortion agenda typified by 1999's Oscar-winner The Cider House Rules, in which the abortionist Wilbur Larch (Michael Caine) is styled as a woman-saving hero.

The question is, is the new pro-life ethic emerging in film and television here to stay? With ultrasound and the internet spreading truth about what's inside the womb, Steve McEveety says the answer is yes: "And I blame it all on Quentin Tarantino."

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