Did you watch Boston Legal last night? No? You missed out. It was one of the best episodes the series has done in a long time, maybe ever. Last night, they tackled abortion, and managed to do it in a way so as to attempt to get in everyone's point of view and avoided getting preachy on the subject. The closest the show came to preaching was suggesting that rather than the legality of abortion being decided by the Justices of the Supreme Court, it ought to be determined by popular vote.
The case in question specifically dealt with a woman who engaged in oral sex with a man, placed his semen into a test tube, and brought it to a fertility clinic so that she could be impregnated with it. The man did not wish to have a child with this woman; he in fact specifically ensured that the two did not engage in the traditional baby-making sort of intercourse so as to avoid just such a problem (condoms not being 100% effective). He wasn't distressed with the notion of having to help pay for such a child; the problem wasn't monetary for him, the problem was that the resultant child would be a part of him and not a part he necessarily wanted to exist. He hired Alan Shore to attempt to get a court-ordered abortion (though he said later that even if he were to win he wasn't sure he could force the woman to go through with it).
On the opposite side was a women who, knowing that this gentleman did not want to have a child with her, devised this scheme in order to get herself impregnated anyway. She wanted a child and she wanted the child to be his. She hired Shirley Schmidt to make sure that the man wouldn't be able to get his injunction.
By having Boston Legal's Crane, Poole, and Schmidt work both sides of the case, the show was able to maintain equal levels of sympathy for both sides. And, for a series which tends to get on a soapbox on a weekly basis, this story remained as un-preachy as possible.
It was certainly an interesting, and different, tack for the show. It advocated an examining of Roe v. Wade without pushing one side over the other. It advocated having a frank and open and honest discussion of the issues involved without getting over-emotional.
It was a complete pie in the sky dream, but it was thoughtful and smart, too. It showed that television can be about more than cheap jokes and mocking untalented singers. It showed that with some effort and some great actors, a television series can raise important questions and ideas. It also avoided giving an easy answer, instead letting the audience sort out right from wrong for themselves.