HBO is developing a drama about an abortion provider in Wichita, Kansas, based, it seems, on the late Dr. George Tiller, who was murdered by anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder in 2009. Tiller was one of the last doctors in the U.S. who provided late-term abortions and therefore was constantly terrorized by so-called “pro-lifers.” Alan Ball of “True Blood” will be developing “Wichita” with journalist Devin Friedman, who penned a 2010 article in GQ magazine about Tiller’s murder.
Blogger Eesha Pandit of Feministing is skeptical about “Wichita,” suggesting that the show will try to take a “neutral” angle and thus conflate violent domestic terrorists with medical professionals who provide safe and legal health care. Pandit wrote:
[P]erhaps it will deploy, the common trope, of “it depends on your perspective.” I’m not sure what to make of that, other than equating muder and fanatiscm with providing a safe and legal procedure seems intellectually lazy.
I am less skeptical, because I think anything that causes Americans to become more aware of the complexities of the abortion rights issue is a net positive. In my experience, the people with the strongest opinions about reproductive rights are the most vocal ones and then there’s a lot of others in between who keep their mouths shut because they think it’s a live wire that they shouldn’t touch. Pop culture can play an important role in de-shrouding the stigma surrounding abortion.
As you would expect, anti-abortion activists are wary of the show because it comes from “Hollywood.” Blogger Steven Ertelt for LifeNews.com wrote:
I expect “Wichita” will portray the lead character as flawed but likeable and the abortions he commits, the mothers, and reasons for abortions, sympathetically. There can be no other reason Hollywood would take this topic on other than to persuade the culture in abortion’s favor.
I see that as drawing conclusions with no evidence to base it on; it’s purely conjecture. In reality, I suspect that neither legal abortion supporters and those who try to criminalize it will be happy with the show. Everyone is going to want it to be an infomercial for their side. And it’s not going to be an infomercial. It’s going to be a drama, a narrative storyline with complicated twists and turns and no clear delineations of “good” and “evil.” Just like real life itself.
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