Catholic doctrine, like many other religions, forbids suicide. Catholicism, in particular, considers it a grave violation of the sanctity of human life.
Yet, NBC’s legal drama Bluff City Law not only ignored that doctrinal stance on Monday night, it turned it upside down. The show portrayed religious figures including a priest supportive of the “right to die” through physician-assisted suicide.
In the episode, the “All-American”, 36-year-old football star Marcus Wright turns to Strait and Associates asking them to “help me die.” He’s suffering from sudden-onset ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) a debilitating, terminal condition.
From the very start, the show tried to portray euthanasia as something acceptable to people of faith.
“Now I don’t want you to think we came to this decision lightly. We talked it over with our families, our pastor,” Wright tells Elijah Strait. Much later, in the courtroom Wright describes the deterioration of ALS telling them, “This is why I would prefer to pass painlessly into God’s arms.”
When the attorneys confer about whether or not to take the case only Jake speaks up for human life, saying “for me, life is sacred, okay?”
Elijah remains conflicted and turns to his own priest, Father Charles, for guidance. He expects the priest to urge him not to fight in court for the “right to die.” Anyone familiar with Catholic doctrine would have expected the same.
NBC’s fictional priest doesn’t even speak up against suicide. Instead, Father Charles says, “My advice? Spend a little time with Marcus and Brittany. Let their needs inform your decision.” How very morally relativistic.
Elijah finally decides to take the case after thinking about his deceased wife and how she made him a “better man” and always wanted him to fight for what is right. He tells Sydney, “I will argue that since patients in Tennessee have a right to refuse medical care, a dignified death is consistent with this right.”
In court he elaborates, “Tennessee has already recognized a patient’s right to refuse life-saving care. Why? Because the law acknowledged that a human being should not be forced to suffer in the last days of their life. And since we allow patients to refuse life-saving care, we must, in the same spirit allow terminal patients to choose death with dignity.”
Before the case ends, Elijah visits Father Charles again and tells him, “You gave me good advice, Father. The more time I spent with Marcus, the more I believe that this is the right thing. But it’s also the hardest part of my job. Knowing that what’s right, might not happen.”
“Mine too,” says Father Charles.
His opposing counsel made compelling arguments that there’s a difference between not being kept alive and choosing to die and the people of Tennessee view physician-assisted suicide as “murder.”
But since Bluff City Law is all about changing the world and doing what liberals view as “right,” the opposing counsel’s arguments fail and the football star is granted his “right” to commit suicide.
In the same episode, Sydney pursues a case against the Conference of Collegiate Athletes attempting to prove they should pay for Wright’s medical debts and needs since his college football injuries made him uninsurable. Ultimately, the conference refuses to settle and Sydney loses when the arbitration judge rules that the “student athlete” system must remain in place. As is.
Meanwhile, another of the firm’s attorneys, Della Bedford, accepts an LGBTQ award for “lifetime achievement,” but is pained by a strained relationship with her son Eric. We learn that she came out of the closet as a lesbian when he was 15 and he doesn’t want to attend the award ceremony because it reminds him of the “worst years of his life.”