‘Law & Order’ explores the dignity of life

By Robert Kellemen

Like many conservative pro-life people, I am nearly always disappointed by how network TV dramatizes pro-life versus abortion issues. “Fair and balanced” rarely comes to mind.

So . . . I was hesitant to watch the Oct. 23 episode of “Law & Order” when I heard it was their third attempt in 20 years at addressing this vital issue.

Ripped from the Headlines

This “ripped from the headlines” episode fictionalized and dramatized the summertime shooting of late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller, who was killed on a Sunday morning while at church in Wichita, Kansas.

And… so … I was totally shocked, as was my wife, as we watched the episode.

Two main characters (Kevin, one of the lead detectives, and Michael, the head prosecuting attorney) actually verbalized pro-life positions—and did so in intelligent, rational, passionate, empathic portrayals.

In fact, Kevin boldly told Jack McCoy (his boss and the District Attorney) that Roe v. Wade needs to be revisited because of scientific, medical, and moral advances. He also said the tide has turned and America is a pro-life nation. He even links the modern pro-life perspective to pro-emancipation views during slavery (a link I have blogged about previously).

Another main character (Connie, one of the prosecutors) began to shift positions from a life-time “pro-choice” view to a pro-life perspective. And, due to the powerful drama of the episode, it did not seem contrived or naïve that she would move down such a remarkable and unexpected path of change.

Primary guests powerfully depicted intelligent, normal, passionate, reasonable people—who were pro-life! The entire jury (along with my wife and me) was in tears as one character shared from the witness stand how she refused to abort her baby who was sure to die soon after childbirth. Her depiction of the precious twenty-one-hours that she, her husband, and their other children shared with the baby before she passed away was an amazing narrative of the dignity of life.

Richard Thomas, yes, that Richard Thomas of “The Waltons” fame (John Boy), plays a pro-life lawyer with perfectly calibrated restraint. His nuanced performance anchors the episode.

Lest anyone imagine that “Law and Order” was one-sided, other main characters and guests portrayed equally plausible and powerful pro-abortion roles. Thus the episode aptly conveys the current debate and the many intricate issues involved in it.

Your Thoughts?

I was able to TiVo the episode. I hope you can find it online. I’ve only been able to find one link to a short four-minute clip. You can see it here, though it does not do justice to the entire episode: http://bit.ly/4btuxB.

If you can locate the full version online at HuLu or other legal sites, please email and I’ll let everyone know.

If you saw the episode, what do you think?

I imagine that some pro-life people will not be fully satisfied. I imagine that other pro-life people will be pleasantly surprised as my wife and I were.

I imagine that many pro-abortion people will be quite unhappy. I wonder if any pro-abortion people will begin to see the issue in a different light.


Robert W. Kellemen, Ph.D., LCPC served for over a decade as the founding Chairman of the Master of Arts in Christian Counseling and Discipleship Department at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, Maryland. He is now Professor-at-Large in that department. Dr. Kellemen is the author of “Soul Physicians: A Theology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Friends: A Methodology of Soul Care and Spiritual Direction”, and “Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction”. Bob has pastored three churches and serves as the Director of the American Association of Christian Counselors’ Biblical Counseling and Spiritual Formation Network (BCSFN). Bob is the founder and CEO of RPM Ministries.

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  1. bunanns82 said:

    The episode ‘Dignity’ can be purchased at itunes.com

    October 28, 2009

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