Wednesday, May 31Welcome

Opinion | ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Covers Northwest Abortion Policy

Megan Burbank

Grey’s Anatomy is one of those TV shows set in a version of Seattle that often feels like it has nothing to do with the real city. Sure, the pilot his episode has the obligatory sound and an aerial shot of the Space Needle, but Gray Sloan he knows Memorial Hospital can be hard to stop being incredulous. The increasingly baroque tragedy that unfolds in them is right in California. With the exception of Queen Anne’s outdoor location in Meredith Gray’s house, this is a show that takes place primarily in hospitals.

So recently, I was surprised when a source who speaks for reproductive health told me about a new season of the show – its 19th time, all hailing Shonda Rhimes’ boundless creativity – where you live. If so, it features issues that really hit close to home.Washington State: Abortion Policy in the Northwest. What is even more surprising is that in many respects Grey’s Anatomy Get a lot of things right.

In “When I Get to the Border,” General Surgeon Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and Obstetrician-Gynecologist Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) road trip from Seattle to Pullman to bring a patient to America. provides abortion counseling and reproductive health care to In Washington, Idaho, “this place has been flooded since the state restricted abortion.”

As a reporter for reproductive health policy, I was genuinely surprised by this level of specificity. Rhimes is a showrunner and often addresses abortion and reproductive health issues. scandalwith Olivia Pope of Grey’s Anatomy‘s Christina Yang both had abortions, Grey’s Anatomy From infertility to ectopic pregnancy, it covered everything long before any other show dared to consider such material, and approached the maximally reproductive healthcare storyline it brings to everything else.

have enough SVUs Enthusiastic friends who know TV shows often make up stories based on real-life current events. I never thought a TV show would make headlines like I always think. Bailey and Montgomery are tasked with transporting a patient from Idaho to Pullman for treatment of a cesarean scar ectopic pregnancy. caesarean section.

Because she is most often in Idaho, where abortion is prohibited, the patient’s primary care physician is reluctant to treat her for fear of legal recourse to provide an abortion. “There’s heart activity,” explains Montgomery. “They didn’t want to take risks. The law is confusing. They don’t want to lose their license first or be charged with a felony.”

this is true. Abortion bans bring ambiguity to urgent situations like this episode. A life-threatening emergency develops when a patient bleeds on the way to the Pullman clinic. Montgomery uses a uterine balloon to try to stop the patient’s bleeding, but he runs out of time. While Bailey and Montgomery performed desperate life-saving measures, the woman’s pulse stopped and she died on the side of the road. When Montgomery, an obstetrician-gynecologist and abortion provider, expressed anger at failing to save a patient, I was reminded of what providers and clinic staff often tell me. “I mean, how are we supposed to be doctors?” Montgomery asks. “How do we treat our patients when we are bogged down by laws written by people so far away?”

Like many Shondaland shows that turn big issues into stories, Grey’s AnatomyThe take on Northwest abortion policy is as instructive as television. “When You Get To The Border” clearly wants to teach its viewers a lesson, and at times the dialogue veers into political points. But the lesson is accurate, wrapping the complexities of abortion ban into a compelling story that never loses its grip on reality.

Earlier this year, I reported on Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health’s “Abortion Onscreen,” an annual analysis of abortion-related stories on TV. We found that television portrayals of abortion care in 2021 and beyond aptly portray what emotional support looks like for people undergoing abortions, but organizations are struggling to address real-world barriers to care. not, and too often focused on white women. Prohibitions tend to disproportionately affect people of color, young people, and low-income people.

“When you get to the border” also does this. The patient Bailey and Montgomery are caring for is a 39-year-old Caucasian woman from Idaho. But the episode also acknowledges a wide range of patients seeking abortion and reproductive health her care, including Bailey herself. Remove tissue from the uterus.

“I didn’t choose to have an abortion, but I did get a D&C. It’s the same procedure,” she says, reading a line where Wilson is steeped in her usual nonsense gravitas. , I worry that doctors are afraid to use it. Anyone who wants it, I want to be prepared to have medical professionals to help.”

Wilson’s fictional doctor describes a very real concern. It has interesting parallels with the actual University of Washington. part of the practice.

In 2021, none of the abortion TV storylines addressed barriers to treatment. Grey’s Anatomy The episode brings them forward, from training gaps Bailey describes to topical challenges related to specific laws. The number of patients from Idaho has increased since the state banned abortion in his August.

For a show that seems to be set in the Pacific Northwest of popular imagination rather than reality, that’s saying something. and find new ways to teach.egg The world has not gone unnoticed.

The South Seattle Emerald is committed to ensuring space for diverse perspectives within the community, with the understanding that diverse perspectives do not negate mutual respect among community members.

The opinions, beliefs and views expressed by contributors on this website do not necessarily reflect those of Emerald or Emerald’s official policies.

Megan Burbank Seattle-based writer and editor. Before he became a full-time freelancer, he worked as an editor and reporter for the Portland Mercury and The Seattle Times. She specializes in corporate reporting on her policies for reproductive health, as well as articles on gender, political and cultural nexus.

? Featured image by Kathy Hutchins/

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