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The good and the bad of “The Good Wife” episode on physician-assisted suicide

by | Oct 26, 2015

By Dave Andrusko

Diane Lockhart and Irving Carver, characters on "The Good Wife."

Diane Lockhart and Irving Carver, characters on “The Good Wife.”

First, the confession. I haven’t watched “The Good Wife” (it’s in its seventh season) this year and just stumbled across Episode Four last night. Although the show often parrots the anti-life line, on occasion the pro-life perspective can be presented in a very thoughtful way, sometimes downright brilliantly.

Like always, the show operated on multiple levels with rings inside of rings inside of rings. You really do need a scorecard to keep the actors and the plot lines straight. (For sake of brevity I will not add the real names of the characters.)

Forgive me for coming late, but there is a wrongful death case – brought by the parents of a young woman with cancer who committed suicide with the “assistance” of two Oregon physicians– which overlaps with vice-presidential ambitions of the husband (Peter Florrick) of “The Good Wife”–attorney Alicia Florrick. Peter, who is the governor of Illinois, is being lobbied to veto an imminent Physician-Assisted suicide bill in his state.

Okay. Why do I bother to bring up last night’s episode? For two reasons, one good and one not so good.

“The Good Wife” is always adding (and subtracting) characters. A new one this year is attorney Irving Carver. He comes to Diane Lockhart, another attorney in the television show, is passionately pro-abortion to ask her to represent the parents.

For reasons too complicated to get into, Diane eventually agrees to represent the parents in this case even though assisted suicide to Diane is but another example of “choice.”

But the debate back and forth between Irving and Diane is terrific. Diane’s bag on one-liners is ripped from the pro-abortion script (but offered with passion) while Irving’s thoughtful, low-key rebuttal offers a synopsis not of what might happen once the assisted suicide genii is let out of the bottle, but what already has happened. Diane’s response–that the United States isn’t Belgium–is weak.

Irving reminds us of the price that the medical profession pays when it allows itself to get into the death-dealing business. We also see glimpses of the devastating societal-wide impact when we make death a “solution” to a myriad of problems.

The bad part is reducing the objections of Grace (Peter and Alicia’s daughter) to physician-assisted suicide to youthful idealism, hint, hint religion. But even as I type these words, I’m having second thoughts.

Sure Peter’s campaign manager Ruth treats her as just another chess piece to move around the board, but she does so to Peter’s mother as well. (Coming late I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m guessing since she is older, Peter’s mother will be portrayed as “wiser” and thus agree assisted suicide is a “rights” issue.)

The episode with Diane in court shows her considerable skills at work. The husband of the woman who committed assisted suicide is not the paragon of virtue (shades of Terri Schiavo). However it ends (at least for this episode) with what is suppose to be a huge setback for Diane and her clients. More next week.

The bad guys always get the majority of the good lines. But to see the case for life presented with two wings–adult respect for the slippery slope implications of assisted suicide and the intrinsic adolescent respect for vulnerable life–was welcomed indeed.

Categories: Assisted Suicide