On Saturday October 4 the BBC ran the most boldly pro-life, explicitly anti-abortion TV show in the history of Doctor Who, and maybe in all of modern television.
The show was so skillfully crafted that pro-abortion folks might not know what hit them yet, but they will soon.
Here are the 10 pro-life highlights that you may have missed from this sci-fi gem.
For non-Who fans, I’ll provide a little bit of background along the way. As for spoilers: consider yourself warned! (You can buy the episode for $3 on iTunes or other digital providers.)
In case you don’t know, Doctor Who is a Time Lord who seeks adventures throughout time and space. Though an alien, he looks human and travels with a female (usually non-romantic) human companion.
In this latest episode “Kill the Moon,” the Doctor and companion Clara Oswald land on the moon in 2049 (along with Courtney, a teenage student from the school where Clara teaches).
Serious fluctuations in the moon’s physics are causing death and destruction on earth. Humans have given up space exploration, but they send a few astronauts to investigate–armed with nuclear weapons.
They meet the Doctor and have some scary experiences with deadly spider-like creatures. But by the end of the first act the Doctor discovers the real problem. The moon, which appeared to be growing and breaking apart—turns out to be a giant space egg, ready to hatch. Cue the moral drama.
Guessing at this answer, the Doctor dives into a strange cavern of fluid and comes back with proof. Using his ubiquitous sonic screwdriver, he takes a sonographic image—an ultrasound of the moon.
The picture is rendered in the familiar blue and red tones that all of us and many pregnant women have seen.
It reveals the image of a fetus, albeit one that is several hundred billion tons large and bears huge wings. It is curled into the full interior of the moon, with the surface as its shell.
Four characters are on scene to digest this news: the Doctor, Clara, Courtney, and the female lead astronaut Captain Lundvik. They marvel at the image, but for very different reasons.
The first reactions are vivid. The Doctor sets the tone.
“Doctor, what is it?” Clara asks. He cannot contain his wonder. “I think it is unique. I think that’s the only one of its kind in the universe. I think that that is utterly beautiful.”
For many years the Doctor has been a hero who is fearless, but not because he has an abundance of courage—instead, because he has wonder. When other people see monsters, he sees the beauty of creation.
That sense of wonder is now turned into the womb of humanity. But human fear is not solved so easily.
Captain Lundvik shatters the feeling of wonder with cold realism. “How do we kill it?”
The hatching is already causing catastrophe on earth, and maybe when it fully hatches it will destroy the earth entirely. Or maybe it won’t. They aren’t sure.
“Kill the moon?” The Doctor slams Lundvik’s proposal on the table for all of them to look at plainly. He turns off the ultrasound, making the creature disappear while they discuss its fate.
Recent seasons have made the Doctor face situations where he can succumb to his fears and destroy life, or affirm his better nature and trust ways to affirm the inherent value of life, sometimes taking leap of faith.
Even when facing genocide and torture the plotline has favored the life-affirming choice—until now. Would it continue to do so in an abortion analogy?
Courtney’s youth and compassion assert themselves. “It’s a little baby!” she reacts in horror to Lundvik’s drive towards death.
Clara joins the chorus. “Stop. Right, listen. This is a, this is a life. I mean this, this must be the biggest life in the universe.”
“It is killing people. It is destroying the earth,” Lundvik insists. Her reasons are sympathetic, but still driven too narrowly by fear.
“You cannot blame a baby for kicking,” Clara chimes back.
Lundvik is quick to reach her own dehumanizing conclusions about life in this womb. “It’s an exoparasite. Like a flea, or a head louse.”
“I’m gonna to have to be a lot more certain than that if I’m going to kill a baby” proclaims Clara.
The Doctor’s companions have often been his conscience. He battles his own apprehensions and hatreds. Clara, Amy Pond and others have entreated and even shamed the Doctor into making the right choice—the pro-life choice. Now it’s humanity’s turn.
Captain Lundvik is not bloodthirsty, but she has fallen into despair. She only sees the destruction that might (but might not) befall if they don’t choose death.
To her, space has not elicited wonder, but dread: “the stars, the blackness, that’s all dead. Sadly that is the only life any of us will ever know.”
Courtney sees more. “There’s life here. There’s life just next door.” But Lundvik cannot hope.
Still, Lundvik is not a villain. She feels trapped. She doesn’t want to abort. “Listen I don’t want to do this. All my life I dreamed about coming here. But this is how it has to end.”
The Doctor lays bare the consequences of Lundvik’s proposal. Sure, killing the moon will stop its hatching, because “there’ll be nothing to make it break up. There’ll be nothing trying to force its way out.”
But euphemisms will not do, either. “The gravity of the little dead baby will pull all the pieces back together again. Of course it won’t be very pretty. You’d have an enormous corpse floating in the sky. Might have some very difficult conversations to have with your kids.”
“I don’t have any kids,” Lundvik says, displaying her deep loneliness.
At this point the sophistication of the writers moves to a new level. The Doctor becomes the emotionally distant boyfriend, and more definitively, the voice of pro-choice empowerment itself.
He leaves. He knows the right decision, but refuses to help the human women make it.
“Whatever future humanity might have depends on the choice that is made right here, right now. Kill it. Or let it live. I can’t make this decision for you.”
Clara pleads with him to stay, to give wisdom—to help them make the right choice. But he gets nasty. “Sorry, well actually I’m not sorry. It’s time to take the stabalizers off your bike.”
Then he postures his abandonment in words that Planned Parenthood could not have written better itself. “It’s your moon, womankind. It’s your choice.”
In “Doctor Who,” the lead actor changes every few years, under the plot conceit that before he dies he can regenerate into a new body. He’s the same person but with a varying personality.
This year’s Doctor is more practically minded, but considerably more insensitive—sometimes intentionally, sometimes absent-mindedly. It is his character flaw along with combating his interior hatreds.
In this episode it was perfectly played into the dismissive posture towards women offered by the pro-choice movement.
With the three girls left to make their abortion decision, Clara patches into mission control and asks all of earth to weigh in during the next hour: “We have a terrible decision to make. We can kill this creature or let it live. We don’t know what’s going to happen when it hatches—if it will hurt us, help us, or just leave us alone. We have to decide together. If you think we should kill the creature turn your lights off. If you think we should take the chance, let it live, leave your lights on. We’ll be able to see. Goodnight earth.”
The earth then chooses: and one country at a time, its lights go off. It makes a massive choice to kill. (An interesting contrast with the moral choice made at the end of “The Dark Knight.”)
But as the timer counts to zero and Lundvik reaches to push the nuclear button, Clara jumps in and turns off the nukes permanently. She knew life was the right choice.
Just in case some people still haven’t figured out the episode was a giant analogy to abortion, the countdown display declares “ABORTED.” Clara aborted the abortion.
The choice made, the Doctor comes back and they transport to earth to watch what happens. The moon hatches into a giant winged creature. Its shell does not rain down on earth to destroy humanity, but disintegrates harmlessly. The creature lays a new egg—a “new moon”—and physics is restored.
We learn that humanity, having seen the beauty of creation that it almost killed, is inspired to reach to the stars again, and eventually populates the universe.
The brutal coda to this episode affirms both life and friendship. Clara is furious with the Doctor for leaving instead of helping her.
Clara begs for a good reason why he left. He can’t be as callous as he seems. But she is wrong. “It wasn’t my decision to make. I told you.”
“You know what, shut up. I am so sick of listening to you,” Clara rages. Leaving “was cheap, it was pathetic, no, no, it was patronizing.”
“No, that was me allowing you to make a choice about your own future,” the Doctor persists in one last attempt to defend pro-choice ideology. “That was me respecting you.”
“My God, really, was it?” Clara yells back as tears well up. “Yeah well, respected is not how I feel.”
“I was helping.”
“What, by clearing off?”
“Well then clear off,” for good, she says.
Telling these women that abortion was “your choice” was the opposite of friendship.
Nor is this a mere platitude about it not mattering what you choose as long as you choose it. Clara didn’t want the Doctor to stay regardless of the choice she made. Clara wanted him to stay precisely to help her choose life.
“I nearly didn’t press that button. I nearly got it wrong. That was you, my ‘friend,’ making me scared, making me feel like a bloody idiot. You walk our earth, Doctor. You breathe our air. You make us your friends and that is your moon too, and you can damn well help us when we need it.”
“Kill the Moon” was a thoroughly pro-life story.
Yet it was effective. It did not preach or caricature. The dialogue sizzled. It was riveting, morally serious, and often fun.
While the writers may have felt they were sprinkling in enough “pro-choice” rhetoric to mollify pro-choice elites, that ultimately won’t do. They took that rhetoric and laid it bare as platitudes about women’s choice and empowerment, cheap and patronizing, an abandonment of women.
The moon baby was not a monster, but neither was Lundvik. Her motivations were understandable, and we could relate to all her conclusions. She didn’t want abortion, she just felt she had no choice.
But ultimately Lundvik’s perspective was wrong—despair had narrowed her vision. Life and friendship is the answer.
Finally seeing the wonder of life, Lundvik tells Clara “Thank you. Thank you for stopping me. Thank you for giving me the way back.”
Thank you for stopping abortion.
Not bad for 50 minutes of campy sci-fi.