ABC's 'The Good Doctor' Weighs Alternatives to Abortion: 'I Would Try to Save the Baby'

March 7th, 2023 12:01 PM

Last night, ABC's medical drama The Good Doctor, featured the story of a pregnant mother fighting to save the life of her unborn child under heart-wrenching medical circumstances.

In the episode, "Old Friends," a woman named Sonja is experiencing pregnancy complications that may cause a life-threatening infection. Her unborn baby, whom she has named "Esther," is not yet able to live outside the womb and needs a couple of more weeks in utero for any chance of survival.

Dr. Jordan Allen (Bria Samone Henderson) and Dr. Morgan Reznick (Fiona Gubelmann), the two doctors attending to Sonja, argue about options with the Chief of Surgery, Dr. Audrey Lim (Christina Chang).

Reznick argues for abortion while Allen still holds out hope that the pregnancy may safely be carried to term:



Sonja: But it's possible that we could save our baby? 

Allen: You'd have to live here. We'd monitor you every day and give you prophylactic antibiotics and steroids when the baby gets closer to viability. 

Reznick: To be clear, even with all of that, you may still develop a serious uterine infection that could require a hysterectomy or cause fatal complications. [Monitor beeping] 

Husband: I think we should terminate. 

Sonja: What would you do...if it was your baby? 

Reznick: Termination is the safest. 

Sonja: I was talking to Dr. Allen. 

Allen: I would...pray on it. 

Sonja: And then? I want to know what you would do. 

Allen: [Exhales softly] I think I...would try to save the baby. 

Sonja: We have to fight for our Esther. 

On the show, Dr. Allen's character has been involved in multiple storylines about the abortion issue.

During the 2021 season, Allen refused to perform an elective abortion due to her Christian faith, but also incoherently claimed she didn't regret having an abortion at age eighteen

Earlier this season, Allen praised a set of parents who refused to abort multiple children in a high-risk pregnancy. Both mother and children had a happy and healthy outcome in that episode. 

In "Old Friends," however, the dangerous infection materializes and places Sonja's life at risk. Sonja says she is willing to die if her child will live.

Allen and Reznick confer with Lim in her office:



Reznick: Labs confirm Sonja has chorioamnionitis. 

Lim: We should add gentamicin. 

Allen: That would damage the baby's kidneys. 

Reznick: It's our only way to keep Sonja alive, and it buys us time to convince her to terminate. She's being suicidal. 

Allen: Risking your life for your child is usually considered admirable. 

Reznick: Not if you're both going to die...because of the false hope you gave her. 

Allen: I answered a patient's question. 

Reznick: You gave her permission. We're supposed to at least try to be objective. 

Lim: Objectivity is a myth, especially on this subject. 

Allen: I know the pain Sonja's grappling with. 

Lim: So do I. I was in med school, on birth control, and I got pregnant anyway. I wasn't ready for a kid. I was scared...and sad...and relieved. It was a medical procedure I had years ago, and I'm at peace with it now. Most women are. 

Allen: Because it was their choice. A choice you got to make, and I did, too. Let Sonja make hers. 

Reznick: It's not our job to help patients choose death. [Cellphones chime] 

Allen: Her lungs are failing. 

That scene uses the typical vapid language that masks the reality of abortion, in which killing a child as birth control is somehow written off as a "medical procedure."          

As Sonya's infection progresses, she is on the verge of multi-organ failure. Both Esther and herself won't survive as a result. Emergency intervention is necessary.

Before asking Sonja to consent, Allen talks about the child she aborted whose memory haunts her when she looks at other children:



Allen: Sonja, it's okay. I turned off your sedation. I need to talk to you. I'm gonna let go of your hands, but you can't pull out the tube. When I was 18, I had an abortion. That child would have been 11 now -- just starting middle school. Every time I see a kid that age, I think about who they would have become or what kind of mom I would have been. I believe God's forgiven me. That's kinda His thing. And I believe God picked you for motherhood. You are so strong, so brave, with such a deep capacity for love. But your Esther isn't developed enough to survive outside of the womb. The infection will kill both of you. I told you if I were you, I would try to save the baby. I prayed for a miracle. And I don't know why it didn't come today. The only way for you to be the mom God wants you to be... ...Is to let Esther go. 

Sonja and her husband have a baptismal rite for the baby in the surgery room and mourn Esther's death.

The episode was a mixed bag overall. It made clear that the unborn child is indeed a baby, and it showed sympathy for the pregnant mother's desire to save her child. Allen's speech to Sonja also acknowledged the reality that abortion leaves life-long wounds, a rare admission in Hollywood in 2023.

But the show also used the cowardly, euphemistic language of "choice" and seemed to almost equate aborting a baby for birth control reasons with the pain of an abortion to save the life of the mother.

Ultimately, this episode of The Good Doctor had both heartbreaking pro-life scenes and exasperating moments of dialogue that pandered to pro-abortion rhetoric.