Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Law and Disorder

I'm a huge fan of Law & Order, and it's a pretty recent addiction for me. In fact, my husband literally studied for the bar this summer, by watching back to back episodes of the show. And yes, as I mentioned earlier, he passed - with flying colors on the first try.... somehow I don't think it's due to the show, but I'm still thankful.

Generally speaking, they're pretty accurate about the legal issues/procedures in the show. Sure they have a few slipups in the courtroom where the attorney says something that he and I will both laugh at and say - there's no way that would get in (to evidence). But I generally enjoy the show a pretty fair bit, and considering that prior to my recent addiction to it (and yes, I know it's been on for like 10 years or something) I'm not usually a t.v. watcher.

---------begin tangent ---------------
(as an aside, I've always wondered how non-lawyers/paralegals manage to understand court/law shows. They don't do a lot of explaining of the procedural aspects, etc. and it took me the greater part of my 2L year to really understand the language)
-----------end tangent, back to what I was talking about -------------

But a few nights ago, there was an episode that really and truly upset me. And I struggled, emotionally, on trying to identify whether the writers' intentions were misguided or malicious, or if I was just too emotional from clomid and reading double meaning into it where it really didn't exist. On the show, they had a young woman who was pregnant, who was allegedly giving her baby up for adoption. Only, as you find out throughout the hour, she was incredibly manipulative, and in essence only wanted to bilk multiple couples yearning for a child for whatever financial resources she could. She was basically selling her child to the highest bidder. That frightening concept aside, it was something else that really bothered me.

The woman gives birth in a hotel, and the baby is found by police with her boyfriend after a day or so. While the infant is at the hospital, (the mother is in a different hospital) the wife of one of the couples who was under the impression that they were going to be the adopted parents, went to the hospital and posing as a nurse transferring the child to another hospital, took the child to her own home. She was charged with kidnapping... and was pretty much portrayed as a lunatic. If I had gone through the years of pain and spent great amounts of money as this woman had, I can't say that I wouldn't have had an emotional breakdown of some sort. Kidnap an infant, not likely... but I know that there would be some serious emotional disturbance there.

As my husband shot me a glance - of please don't tell me this is going to eventually happen to you - I pondered how infertile women are portrayed by the media. I know this has been talked about a great deal in the IBC (Infertility Blog Community), but it still bothers me. In a way, I can see how the writers were trying to show that this woman was suffering from so much pain, she just couldn't take it anymore. After waiting for years and years, spending her life savings, suffering emotional heartache, she just snapped.

And then, part of me was irked, feeling that instead - they were trying to show that as an infertile woman, she really wasn't fit to be a parent, and that the laws of nature were simply weeding her out before she had the opportunity to be a bad parent. I don't know. All I know is that the episode left me with a very uneasy feeling, and it made me wonder how those people who know me feel about infertility in general, and if it colors the way that they think about me. Do my friends with infants secretly fear that I'm going to run off with their children?

What are your thoughts on this? I'm just looking for feedback/examples of how infertiles are portrayed by the media. I think it's important for infertility to be spoken about in the media, but I also think that it should be done accurately -with some shred of decency.


At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there! I am also an infertile, and have been following your blog for a little while now. (I'm getting readay to do IUI etc-- fun fun). AND, I saw the same L&O episode. I wasn't quite as bothered by how they portrayed the nurse; the therapist saying that "as a human being, should she be punished? no" was a nice touch. Also, there were the other points of comparison-- the couple that got the child (and wanted the police to call to tell them if they found the child when he was missing, even though they thought the girl had changed her mind about adoption, which showed them as concerned). Then there was the Westchester couple. They are the ones that bothered me the most, as they were "getting a divorce" over the IF. I asked my DH if we'd ever reach that state, and he said of course not. But it concerned me, it did. For what it is worth, the birth mother was portrayed MUCH poorer than any of the infertiles. And for a point of comparison, I saw an old X-Files recently involving IVF, where the *doctor* was a genetic-engineering psycho, but the parents were kind and fairly normal (as normal as you can get on X Files)in comparison.
Yellowgirlnc at

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Toni said...

You know, when all the reality tv started, I realized that what they've been saying for years is true "Whatever it takes to sell the product". Can you imagine someone making a movie about our lives? Not as exciting is it? (Unless you count my uncle who recently was in jail for a short period of time).

Like everything (including Janet's boobs), I take it with a grain of salt.

At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a pretty detailed, pretty interesting article just along the lines of your musings in this month's 'Bitch' magazine - the one on the newsstands now. Didn't mention the L&O episode (which, yes, I also saw - am a huge L&O addict and don't think I've seen one 'new' rerun in the past five years or so - of course the BM had to be white-trashy and incompetent, while the one hopeful adoptive had to be wacko ... ugh), but went into the images/stereotypes portrayed on Sex in the City, Friends, and a couple of feature films. You should check it out. --Melissa


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