At Public Discourse, Michael Stokes Paulsen, Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas, in Minneapolis, and co-director of its Pro-Life Advocacy Center, discusses an abortion storyline from the British television program Downtown Abbey. There are spoilers in the article but Paulsen’s piece illustrates the way in which art (television) can delve into serious topics such as abortion and shine a light on its realities:
In the end, this Downton Abbey story line is neither overtly pro-life nor pro-choice but merely paradigmatic and illustrative. Crisis pregnancies are real, but abortion kills a baby. Social and personal pressures may conspire to make such killing seem a tolerable option for vulnerable and confused young women. Responsible men are often absent. Families are often clueless. Women in such situations might not, because of the same social and personal circumstances, evaluate the moral stakes properly, even when they are mature and seem fully to understand what they are doing.
Abortion may initially seem to be a convenient way out, but seeing and hearing makes a difference, as it did to Edith. Abortion is not painless. It not only kills the child; it causes great and inconsolable grief to the woman who has chosen to kill her baby. Women in crisis pregnancies need help and support.
In the end, the story of Lady Edith’s pregnancy lays bare what abortion really is. It illustrates not only the inadequate reasons that motivate many abortions, but also the very real difficulties of crisis pregnancy, the ways in which such crisis can obscure reason and moral sense, and the indispensability of good-hearted people coming to the rescue.