'Grey's Anatomy' Hit The Nail On The Head of the Abortion Debate

When Grey's Anatomy first premiered, I don't think we could have even begun to imagine how poignant a show it would evolve into. I didn't jump onto the bandwagon until somewhere around the seventh season and, when I did, I was looking forward to mega disaster episodes like the ferry arc (which I had watched for the destruction and destruction only years before), inconceivable medical cases and cool surgery shots, fake as they may be. I didn't start watching for, and never expected to be so touched by, emotionally charged storylines that reflected what was currently happening in the world. But that's one of the things that keeps me hooked all these years later; Grey's has tackled it all, from gun violence to police brutality and domestic violence to Islamic faith, and this week's "Back in the Saddle" tacked the next high profile topic onto the board - bodily autonomy, and a woman's right to choose. 

In last week's sixteenth season premier, Amelia was struck with the realization that she was pregnant, something she has adamantly prevented since she lost her son years ago. This week, she catches Link in the stairwell and blurts out the news. 

Before the two have the chance to talk in private, Link runs his thoughts past Jo, bouncing ideas back and forth with her including fears stemming form his own childhood cancer. Above all else, he recognizes that in the end it's up to Amelia whether she has a baby. "If she wants to have this kid, do I say any of this? It's her body, her choice," he tells Jo as he wonders how much he should say. Finally, he and Amelia have the opportunity to discuss the pregnancy. She apologizes for having to be in this situation, telling Link about the loss of her son and calling herself militant with her birth control. She tells him that the thought of reliving the death of her son, no matter how miniscule the chances of a repeat are, has always been paralyzing. "And I know it's my body," she says, "but you are free to have feelings."

Link tells her all of the worst-case scenarios he's thought of all day, from cancer to global warming and gun violence to superbugs, but after hearing her out he comes to the conclusion that what he doesn't want the most is for anything to hurt Amelia. "Everything that scares me suddenly feels irrelevant," he tells her. "If you want to have this kid, I will suck up my fears and I'll be a dad...and if you don't want it, I'll drive you to the appointment."

First of all, can I just say, wow. The level of support Link is offering is unparalleled in any similar story I've heard, real or fictitious. This is the norm that we should be striving for, both in life and its depictions, and Grey's is once again at the proverbial frontline.

Some will say they want to watch TV for a brief escape from the realities the rest of us are dealing with every day but, even though Grey's is, at its core, intended for our entertainment, that doesn't mean we can't learn from what its writers have to say. There always is and always will be room for us to learn and grow, no matter where we are in our lives, and I'm more impressed with each new take the show has. I'm grateful to the writers for providing worthwhile material after all these years and grateful to the actors for their portrayals which hit me so perfectly where it hurts, making me stop and think and wish for more. Anti-abortion debates, gun violence, religious persecution.... these terms should have been permanently relegated to history books a long time ago, but unfortunately not everyone can be so lucky as to escape them.

I hope more shows start to follow this lead, normalizing these topics outside of harsh news cycles, normalizing supportive conversations surrounding abortion and the loss of beloved characters to senseless acts of violence. When people aren't personally affected by these issues it's so easy for them to fall complacent, but when you're wrapped up in your escape of a world like the world of Grey Sloan Memorial, and when you've been following some of these characters for five, ten or fifteen years, it's also easy to develop more than a casual attachment to them. An attachment strong enough, maybe, to push uncomfortable thoughts to front of mind and encourage involvement in fights that you may not otherwise give a second glance.