Abby left me disgusted : LUSENET : ER Discussions : One Thread

Sorry for the fact that this question is a week late, but my computer has been on the fritz! Was there any discussion about the story line when Abby encourages the lady to abort her child because she was stressed out and fatigued? I thought, while I was watching the show, that the lady would at the last minute realize that she was about to kill her next child and change her mind. But she actually went ahead with the abortion and the writers made it seem like it was a viable alternative for this lady. SHE WAS TIRED SO SHE KILLED HER UNBORN CHILD! Doesn't anyone else find this to be the most selfish act ever? Thousands of people act like this everyday in our country and I think it is a horrible display of inhumanity. My personal feeling--but I wonder how many people the writers of this show could give this disgusting idea to by presenting this kind of story line to millions of viewers. I hope that woman has some regrets of her selfish decision. And the character os Abby, in my opinion, should be ashamed of herself. Just one woman's opinion... for all it's worth!

-- Joan (, April 30, 2000


I agree with you, Joan. ER often attempts to show both sides of the abortion issue, but this time I thought it was done poorly. I can think of two examples where the show seemed anti-abortion: 1. Viable Options, where the kidney transplant recipient chose to carry her baby to term even though it meant she would not receive the kidney she so desperately needed. 2. Can't remember the eppy name... but it was when Carol was trying to get pregnant. A woman comes in complaining of abdominal pain, they do a sonogram. Turns out she's pregnant, and far enough along to see that it is mostly likely a girl. After that, she leaves, seemingly feeling fine. Turns out she is planning on aborting the baby because "girls are nothing but trouble." You see disgust register on Carol and others' faces.

But, this example with Abby and the over-tired mom was really problematic for me. Can you imagine the guilt this mom will feel as her children get a little older, she realizes that she could have done it, and that it was a purely selfish move? And the whole thing was presented as "the best thing for her to do." I'm not a fanatic, but I like to see women show some responsibility, and not be presented as doing whatever is easiest at the moment.

Just another woman's opinion!

-- J.J. Ruth (, April 30, 2000.

Though I entirely agree that the woman should not aborted her child,I do think that another addition to the family would have been a problem. Six kids under the age of eight would be entirely overwhelming. Yet Abby didn't consider her options very carefully. If she truely wanted to "help" (which seems to be her catch all phrase) then she could have perhaps disussed the option of adopting the child with both the husband and wife present, which would have been the ethical thing to do. Thats my two cents.

-- Jess (, April 30, 2000.

Not that I'm disagreeing with what's said above, but one thing that keeps coming to my mind is the woman was trying to do herself what the abortion did in a safer way for her. And she did have five other children to deal with. There are other good comments in other threads about this so I won't repeat what I've said there.

-- Diana (, April 30, 2000.

I am not going to get into an abortion debate although I have my own opinion on the subject, but I do have to say that Abby ALWAYS leaves me disgusted. She is far too meddlesome and her desire to "help" (which is very noble) usually goes too far. In "The Fastest Year" when she tracked down the half-sister, I just wanted to scream "F*** off!" at her. She was interfering where no one wanted her to. And I have said this in the forum before, would she please wash her hair?? She looks so grungy, almost as if she smells, and this, combined with her "oh, the world is so tragic" facial expressions just grate on my nerves. She needs to go back to OB if she can't handle the big, bad ER (and it seems to me that she can't!) Just my opinion.

-- Annie (, April 30, 2000.

I agree that much has been covered on other threads, but the original post up top there has motivated me to write a bit on this; I disaree with just about all that has been said above. Heres why: while the show is obviously presented from the hospitals staff's P.O.V., one of the things that I often consider when watching E.R. and seeing such good portrayals of patients dealing with their heath issues - be it cancer/death of a parent/STDs/ unintended pregnancy etc., is what a comfort that must be to viewers who are living those "storylines" themselves. With such a dearth of realistic portrayals of "abortion stories" in Hollywood, anytime that E.R. features this subject (whether Im personally thrilled with the detail of the portrayal of not), I really welcome seeing it addressed on prime time television.

I agree that this Abby and the highly-fertile Stepford Mom plot was a bit over the top. I have worked in an abortion clinic (in a small city in eastern Canada - one of the best jobs Ive ever had), and was pleased as punch to see the characters who emerged from the clinic bombing episode a few seasons back; the woman whom Carol treated, with the cut on her arm, was far more representative of the women we saw every week - all walks of life, all economic backgrounds, girls as young as 12 and women as old as 50, making a choice that is a legal and human right. Also Kerry's very wise assessment that her prior experince treating women suffering from bothced abortions has lead her to not judge other's decisions - treat them. Here in Canada, 2000 women a week have terminations - these are not bad women - these are simply women who didnt intend to and dont want to be pregnant, for whatever reason. End of story.

Research (much of it U.S., as Americans appear to be are mightily obsessed with this subject) indicates that the feelings which the vast majority of women who have abortions feel afterwards - days and years - is intense relief and gratitude.

-- Jenn (, April 30, 2000.

I am the person who posted the original "Abby left me disgusted" on this thread. I appreciate all the responses from the people above. I would just like to reiterate that I think it is a poisonous idea for the writers to present this as a solution for a mother's stressful day on national TV without showing any of the other side of the coin. How many girls could be influenced by this presentation? I wish that I could get a response from a mother of five or six children and that she would tell me if there was ever a day in her life where she felt the right choice would have been to abort the baby in her womb. I do not believe the last response that over the years, women feel relief and some other non guilty emotion. I am not a religious zealot even though I probably sound like one. I DO believe that there will be a day that we all have to answer for our earthly actions and I would not want to have to try to convince my Maker that an abortion -because I was "stressed"- was the right thing to do. Maybe these days not a lot of people still believe that that day will come. As square and conservative as that may be, I do. Obviously the writer of that story line does not.

-- Joan (, April 30, 2000.

I one in a family of 5 kids and I've talked to my mum about these things. I asked her once if she got pregnant NOW (at 49) would she have the child aborted? She said no, she would never have the child aborted even if it might cause her problems in birth. She also said that when she became pregnant with my little brother she was 38 - the age when the percentage of women born with Downs Syndrome babies goes up greatly. The doctors offered to give her a test to see if the baby she was carrying was Downs or not. This test involved inserting a syringe into the womb to remove some fluid and test it but more often than not the test caused the mother to have a miscarriage. Because of this my mum refused to have the test despite the fact there could have been a chance of her baby being Downs. As it turned out when my brother was born he was normal, but there was no garauntee that would happen.

Recently I also met some friends of my parents who had 2 children and when the wife became pregnant with a 3rd which was Downs they chose to have an abortion. Having gone to their house for a day and seeing how they treated their children I realised that for them to have had a Downs baby would have been disastrous - there was no way these people would be able to handle it, they couldn't even take care of normal children. However, recently their eldest child was killed in an accident and I was wondering 'Do they ever regret having had an abortion when the woman was pregnant with a Downs baby?' I guess there's no answer to that sort of question. Obviously another child can never replace the one lost but somehow it seems to help heal the wound, or so I've heard from people who've been in such a situation.

What I'm saying is that a mother's decision over whether or not to abort her child should not be taken lightly - you can't decide to kill your baby simply because you're tired; it doesn't work like that. Personally, I think that a woman could never forgive herself for killing her unborn child unless there was a damn good reason. I'm not saying I'm against abortion, in different situations, there are different reasons for doing things, but I just think that for Abby to advise this woman to kill her child just because she's tired is wrong. It was not Abby's decision to make, no matter how sorry she felt for the woman. I also agree with the person who said that abortion is just a safe way to do what the woman was trying to do in the first place by starving herself, but I think that for Abby to tell this woman to abort her child is not right simply because the circumstances for this woman were entirely different from what Abby's point of view on abortion might be.

-- Juliet (, April 30, 2000.

i beg to differ, juliet, the % of miscarriage from having amniocentesis isnt, "more often than not", its a very small percentage, maybe i will look it up later.

-- ALexis SPringer (, April 30, 2000.

Okay. I'm glad this cam eup because it didn't sit well with me either, but not fo rthe same reasons as in the original question. ER presents health situations in a sort of realisticish manner, and as someone else said, from the POV of hospital workers. I think that this plot was too important to be handled in so a small way- all of the plots in Viable Options were important, but not so controvertial. I think it deserved more air time. However, because it is tv and is trying to reflect life, it could not be done perfectly. I think that this was Abby's plot to show some insight into her charcter and past- her strained voice when talking to MArk about the husband was rather tell-tale. (BTW, I love how she always goes to Mark for help). She was not haphazardly advising this woman- she was an ob nurse and a caring person- she wanted what was best for the patient and she believed that this included *presenting her with all of her options.* Abby did not make this decision- we saw the effort she went to to make it balanced- it was the woman's, as it should be! IMO, the entire point of it was that the woman made the decision but then let her husband convince her of the opposite of what a moment ago she believed very strongly. Abby then was in a dilemma because she wondered if her role in the decision was actually stronger than she had thought it was because now she finds out this woman is extremely weak-willed (as was also illustrated by her dealings with her kids.) The scene of her leaning against the door was not strong enough to communicate this (it was for me, but I guess others don't agree.) It is Very difficult to work with people concerning their health, because one never knows how much influence one is exerting. That is why it is imperative to remember that it is the health worker's responsibility to present the options, and the individual's right to choose. My point is that this is the way things happen every day around the world, and it is not perfect. The entire concept of abortion is not perfect- it is difficult and upsetting and full of differing points of view. That does not mean, IMO, that it should not be presented for people to contemplate. Another woman's opinion :)

-- May (, April 30, 2000.

One of the things commented on before was how unrealistic the entire thing was: no counselling, an immediate appointment, no discussion of birth control, etc. I still think they're setting this up for a future appearance by the mother, possibly pregnant again. If they do, then they'll probably deal with the issue of using abortion as a form of birth control.

-- Diana (, April 30, 2000.

Maybe I am a little slow, but when Abbey went back to see what happened with the tired mother, I was not 100% certain that she actually had gone through with the abortion. For someone who was so worried that her husband would be upset, and from the behavior that he had been exhibiting, I find it hard to believe that he would have forgiven her for her "mistake" so quickly. She said something about trying again soon, so she probably did go through with it, but the ending didn't seem to play out the previous emotions in that storyline.

As for Abbey, I am with everyone who is disgusted with her little girl trying to help routine. Does she really get to take time off work to track down a patient's half sister, drive to her house and talk to her, and them pop back into work? If they are trying to work up a compassionate good heart replacement (Carol is leaving), they have gone way off track. Carol's character showed that you can care, but be tough as well. Abbey is embarassing.

-- KJ (, May 01, 2000.

Absolutely. She is going to get in very serious trouble at this rate- -and I would certainly hope so. A real hospital that allowed this kind of rule-bending on a continuous basis would be up to the 15th floor in lawsuits!

Another important factor in all this is Kerry, Abby's "mentor." Kerry herself just returned from a suspension for the very same kind of insubordinate behavior. You would think she'd mention this to Abby along with her other warnings. Of course, you'd think a grown woman and experienced medical worker would already KNOW stuff like this, but hey, it's TV...

-- Cecelia (, May 01, 2000.

I agree. I certainly hope the writers realise how much people are beginning to dislike Abby rather than being touched by her persistent 'compassion' for patients. It's starting to get downright annoying if not stupid on Abby's part. She's so pig-headed - can't she grow up? She's acting like a stubborn child, I'm surprised something hasn't been done about her CONTINUOUS blunders already - she should just stick to nursing.

-- Juliet (, May 01, 2000.

I totally could not realte to this storyline at all. Where I am from that many kids is no big deal. In fact, on my street, there is a family with 16 kids. 10 of her own, 6 adopted with serious mental and physical disabilities. I am sure she is tired too. Abby and her storylines are just ridiculous. They are meant to "tug at the heartstrings," but they leave me empty and nauseous. I was also really bugged by her persistance about the half sister seeing the father in the leukemia story. Being from a divorced family, that can be a very uncomfortable and difficult thing. The sister was very brave and noble coming down, give her a break! Respect her enough to back off when she says she doesn't want to see her father! Basically, I started out wanting to like Abby, but every week, she and Cleo go down in my estimation.

-- Rachel (, May 01, 2000.

I think posting your personal opinion about abortion is totally inappropriate, Joan. This is not some anti-choice hate board, and abortion is not "killing" anything. I am PRO-CHOICE and believe that it is ultimately a WOMAN'S CHOICE what she does with her body. The woman in this epi was obviously in an abusive relationship and the LAST thing she needs is another child. What she needs is birth control!!!

-- Cindy (, May 01, 2000.

... the last part of my message got cut off, but I also added that is what is really SELFISH is people bringing children into the world that (a) they cannot care for, (b) do not get enough attention or love, (c) do not get enough to eat, (d) are totally undisciplined because their parents do not have time for them, (e) grow up in an abusive relationship. Abby is going to be a doctor; I thought she was perfectly within her rights to counsel this woman to make her own decision about HER OWN BODY. Would anyone have felt any different if this woman, say, needed knee surgery, and Abby counseled her to get or not get it so she could continue her life in a healthy manner and give herSELF, as well as her family, the attention and love they need? If it hadn't been for that woman's jerk of a husband, she would have been fine with her decision to have an abortion.

-- Cindy (, May 01, 2000.

I have to say that I thought this was a very interesting storyline because they were willing to forward a contentious decision. What I disagree with is the first reply to this post that says that ER normally gives a balanced view and then gives two examples. In those two examples, one decides against the abortion and one makes a choice so obviously repulsive that we are obviously supposed to be disgusted.

How is this balanced? I applaud the writers by showing a case where abortion is clearly a valid option. To me the real issue of thsi story wasn't the abortion but the mental abuse that the woman seemed to be getting from her husband.

-- Rusty Priske (, May 01, 2000.

Cindy, why was it "inappropriate" for Joan to propose her opinions about abortion, but not inappropriate for you to do the same? This is a highly charged issue, and it brought out a lot of emotions in many people. That is probably what TPTB intended. And a discussion of *how the topic was presented on ER* is completely different than a discussion of the topic itself.

-- J.J. Ruth (, May 01, 2000.

Joan, I agree with you! I felt like Abby was 'swaying' her decision. It was obvious this mother did not want to have another child, but I believe she did not give this woman any other options.She didn't even have time to really think it through. Though I believe abortion is totally wrong, I wouldn't be opposed to exploring if this woman would want to use birth control behind her husband's back after the baby was born. You can take the mini-pill while nursing!

-- Danette (, May 01, 2000.

And there's a shot you can take once a quarter or so. I'm not sure if you can take it while nursing. Was she still nursing the baby she'd left with someone? I've refrained from writing more on this thread but since I'm here, here I go. Her husband and her reaction to him was sooooo creepy. There was more there than we saw, much more. Maybe we'll see more later. And I do agree that Abby pushed the woman too much, making an appointment that day, etc. Having said that, I think she had some awareness that getting away again without her husband's knowledge would be difficult if not impossible. And it wasn't Abby's idea to keep it from the husband, it was the wife's. He seemed to me to be a controlling person, wanting to keep her barefoot and pregnant, and that just makes my skin crawl.

-- Diana (, May 01, 2000.

I totally agree with Diana.

Abby didn't talk this woman into having an abortion -- this patient was already trying to have an abortion. However, her chosen method was (a) very slow, (b) potentially ineffective (might result in serious, permanent damage to the fetus -- birth defects -- without without actually ending the pregnancy), (c) extremely hazardous to her own health, and (d) subtle enough to allow herself to pretend -- to herself as well as to others -- that she wasn't really aborting the pregnancy.

All Abby did was remind this patient that there are procedures available that do what this woman was trying to do -- end her pregnancy -- without having these attributes. At most, she coaxed the woman into being honest about her pre-existing intentions, and counseled a safer way of acting on them.

There was some extraordinarily irresponsible, unethical behavior on display in this plot -- namely, someone's failure to use family planning when one feels unable to handle more children, her use of abortion as a form of birth control, her hiding a pregnancy from a spouse, and her putting her own health at risk to accomplish something that could be accomplished safely. None of these behaviors was Abby's fault.

-- Elizabeth (, May 01, 2000.

Elizabeth, you make some very good points. While I prefer to keep my opinions on the abortion issue private--except to say that a lot of people on both sides act like idiots--I'll add my two cents here:

Abortion, whether you like it or not, is a very personal choice. And some people, like the harried mother on this show, simply don't approve of it. She was obviously very much against the idea of having to do it, hoping that she could "accidentally" do away with the fetus rather than make the choice to have surgery. When a woman has such reluctance to do something like this, for her OWN personal reasons, you have to be very careful how you treat such a woman. However much some people pooh-pooh the feelings of the woman, and her husband--doesn't he have ANY rights, wasn't it his kid too?--she'll probably be suffering from a lot of guilt over what she did. Abby could have helped the woman contrive an excuse to come back to the hospital at another time, after she'd had some time to calm down and really think about what she wanted. In the end, the surgery was wasted--they'll be trying again soon, won't they? Like any elective surgery, abortion shouldn't be a hurried decision, carried out on a whim, without proper counseling by an EXPERIENCED professional. I know Abby was a nurse, but she took too much on herself, as she has been doing a lot lately.

-- Cecelia (, May 01, 2000.

Cecelia, for the most part I agree with you.

Really the only thing that disturbed me about Abby's behavior was the timing element. Although I do believe Abby was just counseling the woman to pursue a safe approach to what she had already basically decided to do, the woman was clearly in SOME denial about what she had decided, and the let's-do-it-now-while-we-have-the-chance approach seemed potentially ill-advised.

-- Elizabeth (, May 02, 2000.

Cecilia, I also agree with you. I think what is really bothering the people on this thread that disagreed with the abortion was that NOTHING was learned from it. She will be pregnant again in a few months, the whole thing was pointless. I really do not think this should be a pro-life, pro-choice argument between viewers, and I don't think Joan was necessarily trying to start one. This mother obviously had a pro-life stance (yes, I said pro-life, not ANTI-CHOICE as some people insist on labeling it...people who I do not stoop to calling anti-life, but I'd love to see the response to that!). She had a moral issue with abortion, regardless of viewers who may disagree with her. It was wrong for Abby to try to talk her out of it, and I think this was proven by the fact that ultimately, she DIDN'T talk her out of it. The woman is still going to try for more children. The problem I have with Abby is her interference in people's private lives. She should present the options and let them choose, and stop doing what she THINKS is best for them. Some people have excused her because "she is a student," but she should have gone through all this before...she is a NURSE already. And you think she would have handled delicate situations like this as an OB/GYN nurse. I really liked Abby as the nurse in Carol's delivery, but as a med student she is horribly immature and unethical. The abortion/leukemia story lines were placed way too together, it's getting to the point where I just groan when Abby comes on the screen.

-- Becky (, May 02, 2000.

Cindy.... you dont think abortion is killing anything? HA! thats a good one...

-- ALexis SPringer (, May 03, 2000.

I have to admit I have read some discussions that have really surprised me regarding this subject. Even though I am very much against the fact that a woman can choose to terminate a life that God has gifted her with, I think the point that upset me the most about the character (Abby's) portrayal of the subject is that in my mind a doctor is supposed to strive to save life, not end it. No mention was made of any other way to deal with the woman's problem other than for her to kill her unborn child. Did her husband get a chance to hear what a hard time she was having? Maybe he is an insensitive android but to kill his child is a not a fair trade off for his failure to see that his wife was stressed. There was no mention of getting help from realtives or friends. No counseling. Neither Abby nor the woman thought that they might have a little insight if the mom prayed to God about the hardship. It was just the immediate idea for this person whose job it is to save lives to suggest that the woman terminate the life of this baby. And I firmly believe that there are impressionable people who watch television who will see this as the easy answer and mimic these kind of actions if they find themselves stressed with an unexpected pregnancy. THAT makes the story line even more disgusting to me. It's a fallacy to think that we are responsible for only our own actions. We also have a responsibility for the example we set for others. Television writers should realize that they are not free to express their own convictions without considering their moral and ethical implications. (Consider how many times on MTV that you can see very young people having sex without any side effects. Do you really think that these kind of examples do not have an effect on the young people in our country? Do the songs ever show the disease, heartbreak, pregnancy and amorality that these kinds of actions can lead to?) If the writers brought this kind of story line into the show, I feel like they had a moral responsibility to show it is much more that a simple solution to the problem that this mother faced. Just one woman's strong opinion.

-- joan (, May 03, 2000.

Thank you, Joan! All I can say is "Amen."

-- J.J. Ruth (, May 03, 2000.

I can think of several instances where ER has shown a woman presented with a "choice" an opting to have the child. In this case, they were presenting another side. Whether you agree with it or not, today, the choice is legal. I found the story compelling, not disgusting. If the woman did not have the abortion, there is no telling what would have happened. She was clearly not in rational state of mind when she tried to starve herself into an abortion. She could have passed out while driving with her children in the car rather than in grocery store. The sad thing is she will more than likely be pregnant again and simply go crazy.

Was Abbie wrong to suggest it? No it was what the woman wanted to hear. Abortion is a medical procedure. Was she wrong to rush her? probably... It is standard to wait a minimum of 24 hours before the procedure is performed. My only other criticism is that they did not tell the husband that his wife had a miscarriage. It was implied that her husband already suspected she was pregnant and when he saw her name on the board -- he knew why she was up there...

In a time when people choose to abandon children after birth or murder them. (What comes to mind is the young girl who birthed her child at the prom and then went on to dance...) I wish the women would have considered the abortion option. Abortion is a personal private matter. People may not approve, however, if you can live with your choice it is definitely a viable option for those who are comfortable with the choice. Those who are not, their choice is simply not to have an abortion.

-- judie (, May 04, 2000.

I think ER has shown a balanced account of the abortion issue. This epi went one way. A few weeks ago, however, a young woman who was about to receive a much-awaited transplant found out that she was pregnant and made the choice to carry through with the pregnancy and pass on the organ. In season two, a woman came in who was pregnant. Her wig came off in Mark's hand. Turned out she was a doctor who was pregnant and had cancer. She'd chosen to have her child as well and do mimimum cancer therapy in favor of her unborn child. She said she'd be dead within a month of the delivery but it was worth it. These are only two examples where ER has gone the other way. It sounds like an uncoming epi's storyline (I think it's the season finale) where Luka helps a young pregnant victim of school violence will raise similar issues. Incidents like these and the one in this thread remind me that it's a very complex, individual issue and ER has looked at both sides at various times and I'm sure will continue to do so. That's what makes it such a great program: that it takes on the difficult medical issues and challenges and shows us that medicine as a science isn't black and white, but more grey than we might believe.

-- Diana (, May 04, 2000.

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