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'Grey's Anatomy': Is Owen The Rick Santorum Of TV?

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"Grey's Anatomy" fans: If you wanted to reach through your TVs and throttle Owen (Kevin McKidd) this week, you're not alone.

Owen's obstinate insistence that wife Cristina (Sandra Oh) will "change her mind" about wanting a baby is particularly disturbing at a time when the national debate includes a presidential candidate who is against birth control of any kind, and one of his supporters is espousing aspirin as a contraceptive. (Aspirin!) Is it really that hard to believe that not all women want babies? To the Owen Hunts and Rick Santorums of the world, let me say it again, as loudly and clearly as possible: Not all women want babies.

In Owen's case, it's particularly hard to believe he'd expect Cristina of all people to suddenly want a child. She's always been perfectly clear that a baby was never in her agenda. Has Owen met her? He just assumed, in the most condescending terms, that she didn't really mean it, that she'd "grow up," that her not wanting to have a baby was "selfish" and that his wishes to have a child were somehow more noble and important than her wishes not to have one. In what's still a very rare action for a TV character, Cristina had an abortion against Owen's wishes and he's not going to forgive her for it. Instead of forcing a woman who's never wanted a baby to have his child, Owen should find one of the thousands of women who want a baby as much as he does.

(In an interesting twist in the recent alternate timeline episode of "Grey's," Owen and Callie were married with three children. And he still wasn't happy.)

But the prevailing myth, as Owen keeps insisting, is that women don't know what they really want. That even when they say they don't want a baby, they secretly do. That's a disturbing argument that has been used against women for other issues over the years, and it's never pretty when it rears its head. Surely, the Owens of the world assume, a woman will change her mind once she becomes pregnant by mistake. And if not then, she'll just have to change her mind when she gives birth. Why would Owen think that? One reason: because TV and pop culture keep giving us characters like "Grey's" own Arizona (Jessica Capshaw), who are adamantly anti-kids until the plot requires them to dramatically flip-flop.

"Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes can go in a few directions with the embattled Owen and Cristina at this point: They can split up, Owen will give up his dream of having a child, or one of the show's strongest characters will be forced to cave in, the way Arizona did. Arizona told Callie (Sara Ramirez) over and over that she didn't want children, but when Callie got pregnant by Mark (Eric Dane), Arizona decided to stay with her, baby and all.

Viewers who identified with Arizona's convictions felt that Arizona had sold out. At first, Callie tried to guess what was at the root of Arizona's desire not to have children -- that it was because her brother had died young, or because she'd lost so many pediatric patients and couldn't take the pain of losing a child. Arizona was understandably furious that her lack of interest in motherhood was being regarded as a disease that must be diagnosed and treated. Like Owen, Callie just didn't get that not all women want children. It didn't matter that the father was gung-ho about being a daddy; Callie's chosen partner also had to board the baby train, so Arizona became a mommy, too.

One character who was allowed to walk away from motherhood? Lexie (Chyler Leigh), who left Mark twice, first when he wanted to raise his daughter's baby, and then when he decided to take an active role in raising his baby with Callie.

While Cristina is going through couples' counseling with Owen in the hopes of saving their marriage, on the same night on another Shonda Rhimes show, another female character -- Corinne (Anika Noni Rose), the long-lost bipolar sister of "Private Practice" doctor Sam (Taye Diggs) -- gets a scolding about how much she'd hurt him and their mother by disappearing for 10 years. And then Corinne delivered an empowered speech that Sam was the one who was being selfish and that he didn't get to tell her how to live her life.

That's great material for a guest star ... now if only Rhimes would put those words in Cristina's mouth and let her stand up for herself instead of trying to please a husband who wants something she can never give him. (Rhimes didn't write either episode, by the way: The "Grey's" episode was written by Austin Guzman, the "Private Practice" one by Steve Blackman and Craig Turk.)

Shonda, please don't sell out Cristina. Things are never going to work out with Owen. They've reached an impasse, and it's apparent to everyone what needs to happen. Neither of these characters can compromise about having a baby, and because of that, they'll never be happy together. Please just let them go their separate ways and let Owen finally see the truth: Women who don't want babies do exist. And, as he should have realized long ago, that includes the woman he married.