The House of the Dragon showrunner Miguel Sapochnik and actress Sian Brooke both recently detailed that in the show’s opening episode that the child birth scene that takes place is all about Roe v. Wade.
In The House of the Dragon, Sian Brooke’s Aemma Targaryen goes into labor with what the kingdom hopes is the next Targaryen king. During labor complications arise and it’s revealed the baby is breech, meaning the baby’s feet are emerging first rather than his or her head.
The Grand Maester informs Viserys Targaryen about the complication, “During a difficult birth, it sometimes becomes necessary for the father to make an impossible choice: to sacrifice one, or to lose them both.”
Viserys approves of an unmedicated Caesarean section and it goes wrong. Aemma is pinned down and the surgery is performed. She doesn’t survive the surgery and bleeds out with Viserys weeping over her body. Their infant son also dies within hours after being removed from the womb.
Sapochnik in an email to The Los Angeles Times specifically discussed the scene, “I know it may sound extreme, but we wanted it to be difficult to watch. We wanted people to remember that no matter what they thought of Viserys, he did this and he could never take it back.”
“It is the story’s inciting incident and needed to be strong and unflinching,” he added.
He went on to detail that the wording the Grand Maester uses specifically “a father gets to choose” was intentional.
“The idea being that Queen Aemma doesn’t get to choose her fate even though she’s right there. King Viserys and the Grand Maester never think to consult her, and so she is powerless over a decision about her own body,” he explained.
He would also tell the outlet that the hope and intention of the show is to moralize his own political beliefs. He explained, “The hope and intention of the show — beyond the primary one of entertainment — is to shine a light on how the experience of men and women in this world has parallels to our own past and present.”
He went on to inform the outlet that the theme of the child birth scene is torture writing, “Each birth in this show has a theme, just as the battles I’ve filmed in the past have a central concept. The theme of this birth scene was ‘torture.'”
The showrunner then made it clear it was all about Roe v. Wade saying, “It feels more timely and impactful than ever.”
Actress Sian Brooke would also make it clear the scene was all about pushing a political and immoral message, “It’s quite hard to think now, as a woman, to put yourself in [Aemma’s] position. It’s so vulnerable to think, ‘That’s what you are: a vessel for childbirth.'”
She added, “You’ve got this battle showing man’s eternal quest for power and status. And then within that, you’ve got this woman who’s at the mercy of a man’s decision.”
Brooke further detailed, “You think you’ve made this huge leap forward, with women being able to make decisions about their own bodies. It’s quite shocking, that, sadly, there is some similarity between that and centuries ago.”
Both Sapochnik and Brooke’s logic are clearly flawed not to mention their clear promotion of the immoral and criminal act of abortion.
First, the Catechism of the Catholic Church makes it clear abortion is a moral evil explaining, “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”
It further states, “The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation: ‘The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.'”
As for their logic, common sense dictates that trying to compare an abortion to a Caesarean surgery makes absolutely no sense. An abortion is the immoral violation of a human life. It is murder. While a Caesarean surgery or C-section is “used to deliver a baby through surgical incisions made in the abdomen and uterus.”
One is to give birth to a child, the other is to murder a child. To try and compare the two in order to gain favor for murder is ridiculous.
As far as the idea that she was pinned down and didn’t have any agency in the decision, there are still cases to this day when a medical professional does not need to provide informed consent.
The National Library of Medicine details, “Several exceptions to the requirement for informed consent include (1) the patient is incapacitated, (2) life-threatening emergencies with inadequate time to obtain consent, and (3) voluntary waived consent.”
However, in this specific case Aemma Targaryen should have been informed of what was happening and that the child was breech and that in order to deliver the child they would have to perform a Caesarean surgery and it could put her life at risk.
The Catholic Church’s teaching is also clear as Pope Piux XII said during the Allocution to the Association of Large Families back in 1951, “Never and in no case has the Church taught that the life of the child must be preferred to that of the mother. It is erroneous to put the question with this alternative: either the life of the child or that of the mother. No, neither the life of the mother nor that of the child can be subjected to direct suppression. In the one case as in the other, there can be but one obligation: to make every effort to save the lives of both, of the mother and the child.”
While Sapochnik and Brooke try to equate the scene with abortion, the true villain is the Grand Maester who seemingly is ill-equipped to deliver a breech child and does not make every effort to save the lives of both the child and the mother. He also seems to misinform Viserys leading to his ignorant decision to approve the Caesarean.
There are currently multiple techniques to turn a breech baby including External Cephalic Version. It’s also possible to deliver a breech baby vaginally with the doctor guiding the baby and manipulating his or her body, arms, and head. The doctor can also deliver the baby through a total extraction where “the doctor grasps the baby’s feet, and the entire baby is extracted.”
And maneuvering the child is not a modern technique, Claire Ridgway writes at The Tudor Society that midwives “also had knowledge on how to turn a child it if was not in the right position to be delivered” during the Tudor period, which was between 1485 and 1603.
She also notes, “Caesarean sections were not a common occurrence and were only performed if the mother had died, in the hope of saving the unborn child.”
What do you make of Sapochnik and Brooke’s attempt to spread and normalize immoral through House of the Dragon? Does it surprise you?