When I sat and thought about what was going on, I couldn’t say that this girl was entirely mistaken. Sure, her method of lying to caseworkers certainly wasn’t entirely honest but her goal of making an organization accountable was certainly something that I could support.
Yeah, I said it.
True, I write these articles on behalf of a Planned Parenthood affiliate and I initially found myself incensed by what was occurring, but I realized that I was just being defensive and protective of an organization that with which I had come to align myself.
One of the problems with all of this is that Lila’s videos are designed to provoke powerful emotions from people on both sides of the fence and having a strong feeling about an issue is one thing, but acting from that same place only leads to brash behavior.
The reality is, however, that these situations often require a measure of tact. It’s easy for us to sit back and judge this scenario with a clear-cut mentality when we see it played out on YouTube but anyone who has been in a room with a patient (especially a teenage one) knows that things are never this easy. I certainly do not purport to be a counselor but I have had enough experience to know that situations between a professional and a client need to be handled with extreme care, thought, and discretion. How do you serve the greater good when a 13-year-old tells you that she had sex with a 31-year-old? I imagine that the focus of the clinician at that point immediately revolved around the girl whether viewers realized it or not: Was she raped? What is her thought process in wanting to abort the baby? Is a violation of her trust outweighed by my duty to report a crime? How would the reporting of this particular situation affect the willingness of future girls to come forth? To me, the situation depicted in the videos is nothing more than this: the actions don’t always follow the letter of the law but might very well abide by its spirit.
If you’ve seen Lila’s videos and immediately react, take a second and think about what you’ve learned from watching television. On medical dramas, we are routinely bombarded by examples of doctors doing things that are illegal, immoral, or unethical in order to accomplish a goal. Sometimes, efforts to subvert presiding laws cause chaos because the character needs to learn a lesson. Other times, however, things work out because these actions are in the best interest of a patient. We have seen examples of a Chief of Surgery coercing a comatose patient’s wife to pull the plug so that six other individuals could get a kidney on Grey’s Anatomy; Private Practice has had doctors cross boundaries in an attempt to do what they thought was best, and every medical drama in the history of television has had a doctor become too involved in his work due to a personal situation.
How do you know when to uphold the law and when to declare the rule unjust? In the end, it’s a judgment call.
For example, Private Practice just featured a teacher sleeping with her student. When doctors discovered this transgression, they experienced conflict over whether they should report the teacher to the police: Arguments were made that statutory rape was a crime and should always be reported; other doctors mentioned that the relationship was consensual and heard a rejoinder that minors can’t give consent. But, doctors ultimately came to question if the act of reporting would do any good for either party.
The answer? Not so much.
Without question, this whole situation represents a complicated dilemma. Recall a time when you helped a friend cover up a mistake and you might understand the mindset of the Planned Parenthood employees. Thinking about the videos again in this light, perhaps what occurred in these videos wasn’t right but I’m not entirely sure it was wrong.