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Friday night, NBC’s Law & Order , which follows the headlines, will dramatize this one: A 3rd trimester abortionist is shot in church. The episode will air at 8p ET/7p CT.

Preshow reviews…

From Entertainment Weekly:

The episode called “Dignity” begins with the murder of a doctor who performs abortions – he’s shot while praying in church.

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The killer is represented in court by an anti-abortion league lawyer played by Richard Thomas with perfectly calibrated restraint. Indeed, this is the performance NBC should be touting this week: Thomas is nuanced where everyone around him is encouraged to take sides and squabble. It’s all rather too neat: The show’s 2 cops, Lupo and Bernard, and its 2 Assistant District Attorneys, Cutter and Rubirosa, each take either a pro-life or pro-choice stand… at least, initially.
I don’t want to give more away; let me just say that by the end of this Law & Order, the drama runs more deeply, more effectively, because characters behave like humans. They think and reconsider; they debate and shift their positions slightly, this way and that. And I think you’ll be surprised at the low-key but still quite shocking final scene.

From IdahoStatesman.com:

REASON TO WATCH: An episode that deals with abortion, with surprises. One of them – a starring role by Richard “John-Boy Walton” Thomas.

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WHAT IT’S ABOUT: In the opening scene, a man is greeting parishioners at a church, and when he enters the church alone, the camera reveals he is hiding a gun under his belt. Moments later, he takes a seat when – bang – he’s dead. Someone has come up from behind and shot him.

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The man turns out to be an abortion doctor – someone who specializes in late-term abortions, to be exact. Could the killer be among the opponents of abortion who have picketed his practice? Or perhaps the anxious father who tried to prevent his daughter from aborting her fetus that has a rare but possibly fatal genetic disease? This is an episode where “moral dilemma” is writ large – even larger than usual.
BOTTOM LINE: Abortion-rights advocate or opponent of abortion? What position would you expect someone like Det. Kevin Bernard (Anthony Anderson) take? How about assistant district attorney Connie Rubirosa (Alana De La Garza), or her superior, Michael Cutter (Linus Roache)? Or, how about you? This is an episode where the characters reveal their own inner turmoil on the question. The episode, “Dignity,” can be a bit preachy and speech-y, but it’s also surprisingly emotional. Meanwhile, whether you’re an abortion-rights advocate or an opponent – at least the late-term debate gets an intelligent hearing.

Finally, the New York Times:
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Law & Order, the long-running NBC series about crime and punishment, rarely shies away from inflammatory topics, and Friday night it takes on one of the most contentious – abortion – for just the third time in the program’s 20 seasons.
In the show’s customary ripped-from-the-headlines style, the new episode focuses on the murder, in a church, of a doctor who performs late-term abortions. Though the episode… begins with the disclaimer that the story “is fictional and does not depict any actual person or event,” its outlines closely track the case of Dr. George Tiller, a prominent provider of late-term abortions who was shot and killed in a church in Wichita, KS, on May 31.
Leading up to what is essentially a character-driven debate about abortion, NBC has tread a fine line between promoting the episode and its topic to attract viewers to an otherwise slow night of television and trying not to draw too much attention to it….

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Dick Wolf, the creator and an executive producer of the series… called it “the most controversial episode of the series” since it first addressed the topic in its debut season.
Law & Order has twice before addressed abortion, in 1991 with “Life Choice,” a first-season episode about the bombing of an abortion clinic, and in 1995, its fifth season, with “Progeny,” which also focused on the murder of a doctor who provided abortions.
Friday’s episode does weave some significant twists of plot and character into the drama, with police officers and assistant district attorneys sometimes taking forceful stands on one side of the abortion debate or the other, only to later express doubt when their involvement in the case becomes more personal.
Abortion has been a sensitive topic for networks and advertisers at least since 1972, when an episode of Maude on CBS wrestled with the topic. The broadcast drew many complaints and most advertisers shunned the episode when it was repeated during the summer….

I’ll be in the air when this show airs tonight, so I’ll be interested in your reviews. I expect the show will throw ideological bones to both sides but ultimately come down favoring pro-aborts.

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