I just had a really hard time feeling bad for Dr. Cuddy on House this week. I was worried how they would play this episode with Cuddy looking to adopt a baby and the birth mother possibly having some complications. TV shows have a tendency of showing women who are looking into adoption as relatively unstable and obsessive so I was worried about that. I was not prepared for the way they had Dr. Cuddy completely try to control a women’s right to her own body and to make her feel guilty for her life and her decisions.
The episode starts with Cuddy meeting the birth mother at a coffee shop and talking about themselves. The mother has a rash and Cuddy is concerned so she asks tells her she is coming to the hospital to get checked out. After forcing more tests on her without asking her opinion, it is discovered that the fetus’s lungs are underdeveloped. The birthmother inquires if it is due to her meth use early in the pregnancy. When she learns it might be she starts crying and responds that Dr. Cuddy must be so mad at her. Cuddy’s response is to say nothing and walk away. They then discover that they have the option of having a c-section, which the child might not survive, or attempt to wait and the mother could die. The pregnant woman does not want to wait and risk her life and Cuddy, in a huge ethical breach, tries to convince her to wait. The woman apologizes but says that she has sacrificed enough but she does not want to possibly sacrifice her life. They perform the C-section where Cuddy stands observing. The baby ends up surviving however, the birth mother changes her mind and decides that she wants to keep the baby because it is what she thinks she needs in her life. Cuddy than attempts to try and TALK HER OUT OF IT. The woman refuses and Cuddy ends up crying in the nursery she had prepared and telling House that she is tired and can’t do this emotional ride anymore.
Whether the writers of House intended to or not this episode was a great testimony about privilege and how it can corrupt a normally positive concept like adoption. Cuddy runs an entire hospital and obviously has a lot of money so she does what most rich white people do when they want to adopt, which is to try to get a baby that’s as fresh as possible. Heaven forbid they adopt one that is already a year old.
Then, throughout the entire episode, Cuddy acts completely insensitive to the birthmother’s autonomy and rights. You get the impression that as far as she is concerned the baby is already hers and this whole being carried by another women is just a huge inconvenience. She violates ethical guidelines when she tries to guilt the woman into risking her life, makes her feel guilty for past behavior, and then tries to talk her out of keeping her baby. Then, in the end, we are supposed to feel bad for Cuddy because it’s just so hard for her and she can’t do it anymore.
This bugs me because there are plenty of children out their that need to be adopted but this instance, like in many tv shows, where people need to have one with the umbilical cord still attached bugs the hell out of me. It is an option that is only available to richer individuals and it creates a situation where they are not just adopting a baby. They are adopting a specific baby and wanting to have way more control over the process than should be possible.