How New Amsterdam Used Three Very Different Perspectives To Tell A Powerful Story About Choice

Janet Montgomery as Lauren Bloom in New Amsterdam
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 7 of New Amsterdam Season 5, called “Maybe Tomorrow.”

The fifth season of New Amsterdam hasn’t been easy on the doctors, and “Maybe Tomorrow” delivered a twist that left them all reeling. This wasn’t a twist like Helen getting cold feet or a storm threatening the lives of everybody at the hospital, but a story based on a real life event: the Supreme Court decision about reproductive rights. The doctors were all devastated that their patients won’t be able to get treatments they need and make choices they deserved because of the ruling, and the series showed the impact of the decision through three perspectives: Bloom, Brantley, and Wilder. 

Bloom and Reynolds talking on New Amsterdam

(Image credit: NBC)

Lauren Bloom And Her Decisions For Herself

Bloom and Reynolds were teamed up for “Maybe Tomorrow” as they led a group of potential medical students on a tour of the hospital, but it was complicated when she let it slip that she’d gotten pregnant and had an abortion without telling him back when they were dating. Reynolds kept wanting to talk about it while she kept shutting him down, until she spelled it out for him: him wanting to talk about it was making the abortion about him, rather than him asking her how she felt about it. 

Reynolds immediately softened and asked how she felt about it, and sensed that she  wasn't being entirely open with her insistence that it didn’t really mean anything. She finally opened up by the end of the episode when one of the potential doctors asked Bloom and Reynolds how they took them on the whole tour without addressing Roe v. Wade. Bloom came out and revealed that she’d had two abortions in her life: once after being date raped in college and once after dating Reynolds (although not mentioning him by name).

She made the point that she did what was right for her because it was her choice, and suggested that they go into obstetrics and gynecology. From Bloom’s perspective, a person deserves the choice to get an abortion if they want to and they should have the right to do so safely and quickly. 

Debra Monk as Karen Brantley in New Amsterdam

(Image credit: NBC)

Karen Brantley And Her Fight

It was clear from the beginning that the issue hit close to home for Brantley, as she gave Max carte blanche to use the hospital’s resources to try and fix it. Max had to point out that even his best efforts wouldn’t be enough to defeat a ruling from the Supreme Court, but he tried anyway until even he was out of ideas. When he broke the news to her, she opened up about why the issue was so important to her. 

She was in college in 1968, several years before Roe v. Wade would legalize abortion in 1973. A friend of hers who was a brilliant pre-law student became pregnant, and the father abandoned her. She took her friend to an illegal abortion site, and it was a horrifying ordeal that resulted in a lot of blood. 

Brantley didn’t confirm that her friend had died, but that was the implication, and she revealed that it motivated her to march and fight for the original legalization. She and the others who fought for Roe v. Wade in the first place won nearly fifty years ago, and now had to watch a whole new generation lose those rights in 2022.

Dr. Elizabeth Wilder on New Amsterdam in surgery

(Image credit: NBC)

Elizabeth Wilder And Her Patient

Dr. Wilder spent the episode trying to treat a pregnant woman named Michelle, whose cervical cancer would kill her without chemotherapy. Unfortunately, Michelle had been celebrating the overturn of Roe v. Wade before coming to the hospital that day, meaning that she was willing to die rather than accept the chemotherapy treatment that would save her but terminate the pregnancy. Wilder’s priority was saving the patient’s life, but couldn’t convince her to sacrifice the pregnancy so that she could live. 

Wilder came up with a radical surgical plan that would have left Michelle dealing with serious medical issues for the rest of her life but spared her an abortion, and others in the operating room disapproved of an intensive surgery when the simpler and faster solution was to terminate. At the end of the day, Wilder realized that Michelle’s beliefs in not getting an abortion were as strong as her beliefs in the right to choose, and she had to let Michelle make her choice... even if she strongly recommended otherwise. 

With Bloom’s perspective, New Amsterdam told a story through the eyes of a person who used her right to choose safely, and the Supreme Court decision hit very close to home for her. With Brantley’s, viewers saw through the eyes of somebody who had fought for the right to choose decades ago, only to see it taken away now. With Wilder’s, we saw the other side of the right to choose that the doctors didn’t approve of, but had to respect. 

This was an emotionally rough episode in a season that has been pretty dark, and Max “How can I help?” Goodwin isn’t usually left in a state of such resignation that he truly can’t help. It was also a powerful episode that used three different storylines to tackle the concept of choice, and a standout of New Amsterdam

See what happens next with new episodes of New Amsterdam on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. The fifth and final season is over halfway through the order for 13 episodes, so now is not the time to miss even one week. If you want to revisit earlier days of the medical drama, you can do so streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription. For some more viewing options in the coming weeks, check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.