House, MD is a fairly straight-forward and often predictable show on FOX. For those of you who’ve never watched it, it features a brilliant but acerbic and sacrcastic diagnostician (Gregory House). The usual show goes like this: person falls suddenly ill, often seizing or bleeding or going into respiratory distress or cardiac arrest, for no known reason. (Although the next episode looks interesting and may switch things up a bit, but it seems they had to get House on a plane to mess with the formula). The person ends up at House’s hospital (in New Jersey), and after about 4 or 5 slightly incorrect treatments, death-scares, and intelligent-medical-jargon bickering between House and his staff, the person will be cured. You think Grey’s Anatomy uses crazy jargon? Try House. (I can’t remember the last time someone died, but I’m sure it’s happened at least once.)

Despite all this, I enjoy the show. I really like intelligent sarcasm and House is not one of those guys who is rude but has a sweet sappy side. He does have a sweet side, but it’s certainly not sappy.

On tonight’s episode, a patient is dying because, it seems, her fetus has something wrong with it and it’s killing her. What was striking to me is how they handled the question of a “fetus” vs. a “baby” and abortion. House is convinced the mother will die and that the fetus must be aborted to save her. We’re told the woman, who’s clearly in her mid-40s, has tried numerous times to get pregnant with invetro and this is basically her last shot. She clearly really wants this baby and is willing to risk dying to save it. The audience is supposed to side with her and find House, “as usual”, lacking in bedside manners and just “not getting” this kind of emotion.

(in fact, 9 times out of ten, the mother would have died, but in this case, they were able to save the mother by removing the fetus from the womb and performing surgery on it. )

This must be a hip new topic, because I’ve recently seen that on another show. Anyway, in the show, House consistently refers to the fetus as a fetus (and once as a tumor and parasite) since it’s not a person until it is born and can develop an existence separate from the mother. I completely agree with him and felt this was a breath of fresh air. That is, UNTIL he takes the fetus from the womb and its tiny hand touches his thumb – inducing “awws” from the audience, no doubt, and House gets “lost” in the moment temporarily. The inference is that he’s realizing it’s a baby.

Look, IT’S A POTENTIAL BABY, so of course it can be cute, just as the fetus of any animal can be. I found this annoying. Why should he suddenly become entranced by this moment? It didn’t fit his character and it also just added fuel to those who’d say, “See? it is a baby. Who cares if it doesn’t have lungs and is completely dependent on the mom?”

Also, I imagine there were a lot of new and likely young viewers since the lead singer from All American Rejects was featured in the beginning. So, all these young girls who are clueless about their bodies and reproduction, but oh-so-informed about sex, get to watch a seemingly-intelligent show wax unpoetically about the beauty of a mother willing to sacrifice her life to have a kid. Argh.

And to top it all off, Dr. Lisa Cuddy, the doctor who was most fighting to save the fetus and not have it aborted to save the life of the mother – who was trying to save them both, actually, “despite all odds” – is a female doctor (head of the hospital, actually) and was called out for not being objective (good) and sucking up to her maternal instincts (lame). When House tries to save any patient “despite the odds” he’s not called anything but stubborn and brilliant. It has nothing to do with maternal shit.

I’m not saying a woman never feels something for a woman who’s trying to have a child, especially if they’re both significantly past 30, making child-bearing difficult, but I just don’t feel it applies to this character.

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