Hats-off to writers of the CBS primetime drama, The Good Wife. The show’s protagonist, Alicia Florrick, played by Julianna Margulies, is a lawyer. In this episode, “Red Meat,” she is running for state’s attorney of Illinois. The election takes place and a winner is announced, but we won’t spoil the outcome for fans who haven’t watched yet. Meanwhile, lawyer Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski), a Democrat and women’s lib proponent, is on a three-day hunting excursion with her uber-conservative, polar opposite husband, Kurt, a ballistics expert played by Gary Cole.
Kurt and Diane travel to Wyoming for the hunting trip, where they are joined by some of the wealthiest conservative men in the United States. Liberal Diane is completely out of her element until she realizes she can “hunt clients” for her law firm among the wealthy and powerful men in attendance. Initially Diane sets her sights on a tech guru, but commits a social faux pas and loses her chance to win him over.
Later, Diane finds herself in the blind with “R.D.,” Reese Dipple, a Pro-Life Republican. R.D. knows that Diane is a Democrat, but jokes that Kurt must be conservative enough for the both of them. “So what should we talk about? Killing babies?” he asks. “Sure, why the hell not?” replies Diane. “We both have rifles. Let’s see what comes of this.” The pair’s abortion debate begins around the 22:45 mark of the episode.
Diane: The Supreme Court has upheld a woman’s right to choose since 1973.
R.D.: Ah, the great wise body.
Diane: And they’ve done so repeatedly – and with Scalia and Alito on the Court.
R.D.: And once upon a time, the Court also upheld Dread Scott.
Diane: Oh, God, do you realize every other Western democracy mocks us for having this debate?
R.D. interrupts her, by quoting the Latin verse of the Hippocratic Oathin which a physician swears not to supply mothers with the means to commit abortion:
R.D.: Simili autem modo neque mulieri pessum abortivum concedam…
Diane: Oh, so now we drag out the Latin. The original Hippocratic Oath orders physicians to swear by Apollo. Are we to do that now?
R.D.: A woman who knows her Latin; I’m impressed.
Diane: Yes. A woman who should have the right to choose. Notice the word!
R.D.: You ever seen a five-month-old fetus?
Diane: No, have you ever seen a woman dead from a backstreet abortion?
R.D.: Yup, but I have seen a five-month-old fetus. But I also know that science gives that fetus 20-30% survival rate at five months. All right? In other words, at the same moment any woman in America—
Diane: —and the world—
R.D.: —and the world can get an abortion, science gives that infant a 30% chance of survival.
Diane: So what? Abortion is murder?
R.D.: At six months, survival rate goes up to 50%
Diane: So you would put women in jail? Come on, you would imprison them?
R.D.: I’m not saying that.
Diane: Yes you are! What is the option?
R.D.: Admit the facts! Don’t look away from the aborted fetus. Look at it! Why is it not a baby? And why are we kitschifying these babies?
Diane: Good word.
R.D.: Thank you – kitschifiying babies and turning them into these cute little Raphael cherubs at the same time we’re aborting 1.2 million of them a year?
Diane: Because it’s legal. And because you still haven’t answered the question: what are the options?
R.D.: I don’t need an option. It’s not up to me to have an option.
Diane: Because you’re a man!
R.D.: Come on, that’s beneath you.
Diane: No it’s not, because I just said it. And you still haven’t answered.
R.D.: Look, bottom line: I like people. I like you. I mean, you seem smart, I think. I don’t know why that next fetus wouldn’t turn into you – or me! And what will be lost to the world if it were to be aborted?
The two characters’ next scene opens with both peering through rifle scopes at their deer target. Diane has never hunted before and is apprehensive to pull the trigger when instructed by R.D. to do so. “Right there, you see it?” asks R.D. “Yes,” says Diane. R.D. tells her to take a shot. But, perhaps fully imbibing what she is about to do, Diane says, “I can’t. Not like this.” R.D. offers encouragement: “Come on. It’s a pest. Deer are a hazard that carry ticks. They’re overpopulating. If you don’t take a shot, I will.” Diane hesitates. “It’s just grazing. It’s not doing anything,” she protests. “Would you do it if it were charging you?” asks R.D. He makes a noise to send the deer running. “There you go, it’s on the move. Take it down, take it down! If you don’t, I will!” Finally, Diane shoots the deer, and has a wild look in her eye, as if bewildered by the experience.
The twist was brilliant. R.D. and Diane essentially switch places on their prior abortion debate, and Diane – so callously supportive of abortion “because it’s legal” cannot shoot the deer because: “It’s just grazing. It’s not doing anything.” Does a sonogram image of a preborn child, playfully kicking and sucking his thumb, come to mind for anyone else? He, too, is not “doing anything” to merit being killed. And then R.D. assumes the role of the figurative abortion lobby, which argues that preborn children are parasites, hazards, and overpopulating the earth.
Watch the full episode, “Red Meat,” here.