As the end of season ten approaches, this penultimate CTM episode is packed with meaningful stories. A lingering concern gets a happy ending, an ongoing issue is bravely addressed, a secret is revealed, and the midwives continue their commitment to innovative care. You can refresh your memory on last week’s episode right here.
First of all, let’s review the financial rollercoaster Nonnatus House has endured this season. In order to keep services up and running, Sister Julienne partnered with a posh private clinic. When Trixie discovered the Lady Emily was not only delivering babies, but performing illegal abortions as well, that collaboration immediately halted. (More on that in a moment.)
When Shelagh came up with the plan for the Nonnatus staff to train pupil midwives, thereby receiving NHS funding and money for room and board, Julienne breathed a sigh of relief. Though funds were still tight, there was light at the end of the tunnel.
Well, it has transpired that light has arrived in the form of Trixie’s grateful friend, Matthew Aylward. He pays a visit to Sister Julienne, praising Nurse Franklin for the exemplary care she gave to his wife Fiona before she died. As a businessman in the area, he wants to donate £100 (equal to almost £2000 in today’s money) to help their good work. It would seem Mr. Alyward just keeps getting better and better.
That extra money will certainly come in handy for one of Sister Frances’s wonderful new initiatives. She has noticed that Asian mothers in the district are hesitant to come to them for care, despite often having little or no family nearby. She suggests organizing information sessions for these families that would not only explain their services but give the midwives insight into the customs of their patients’ cultures. Miss Higgins even volunteers her Punjabi translation services to make communication run more smoothly.
Someone that these meetings are aimed at helping is Sarita Gupta (Aysha Kala). She and her husband Raj have moved to Poplar recently and he’s concerned that she is refusing medical care. Not only is Sarita due to deliver their baby any day, but she also suffers from traumatic OCD caused by atrocities she witnessed as a child during the partition of India. As a result, she constantly cleans their apartment using strong chemicals that could cause damage to her and the baby.
Dr. Turner and Sister Frances win her trust and Mrs. Gupta decides to have her child at the maternity home. The delivery goes smoothly, and once Raj has placed the traditional spot of powder behind the baby ear, Sarita is convinced he her son is safe.
The main narrative in this week’s story has multiple storylines but they all trace back to when Trixie realized Dr. Scarisbrick at the Lady Emily clinic was performing abortions for rich patients. The midwife was angered that wealthy women could go around the law. Meanwhile her Poplar mothers living in poverty risk their health by getting back-alley abortions or bring children into dangerously unstable homes.
This week Trixie encounters Cherry Watson (Rebecca Lee) who is pregnant with her fifth child. The family lives in shocking poverty and her unemployed husband is physically abusive. Mrs. Watson becomes so desperate that she attempts to perform an abortion on herself. The procedure is unsuccessful and results in a nasty infection. Dr. Turner and Trixie empathize with the woman’s situation but remind her that her actions were illegal and dangerous.
This incident seems to be the final straw for Nurse Franklin. She decides to pen a letter to editor of The Times in support of an abortion reform bill that’s currently being debated in Parliament. While her colleagues and friends admire her bravery and convictions, not everyone is in agreement with her stance. Most curious is pupil midwife Nancy Corrigan’s negative reaction to Trixie’s letter and the handling of Mrs. Watson’s abortion attempt.
Nurse Franklin is invited to appear on a BBC Radio debate on the abortion bill. She goes to Sister Julienne for her blessing. And while she states her faith must come first in these matters, the Sister says the decision is up to Mother Mildred and she will speak to her on Trixie’s behalf.
Apparently, Nurse Franklin is given the okay from the Mother House because she makes a strong showing at the debate. This despite initially being talked over by the men who suggest if the abortion laws are changed, doctors will start deciding who is fit to be a parent. Trixie disputes the ridiculousness of this claim and describes women in dire straits who have a right to safe, legal terminations.
After the debate airs, Nancy confesses that she was faced with the same difficult decision as the women Trixie defended on the radio. She has a daughter living in a nearby orphanage who she visits on her days off. The nuns who brought Nurse Corrigan to Nonnatus House withheld this information from Sister Julienne. Now a decision will have to be made as to whether Nancy will be able to continue her midwife training — because even in the '60s unwed mothers weren’t allowed to be nurses or teachers.
So I assume we’re likely to learn Nancy’s fate next week. Do you see the situation going in the young woman’s favor? Will Trixie face any fallout from her public appearance? Has Violet Buckle gotten increasingly full of herself this season, or is it just me? Please join us in the comments to discuss this eventful episode!