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Popular Soap 'General Hospital' Introduces Storyline About Disability

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Editor's Note

Warning: This article contains spoilers about recent episodes of “General Hospital.”

Popular daytime soap opera “General Hospital” has been on the air since 1963. In that time it’s covered a lot of ground — and drama — including topics that might be relatable to many families. In Friday’s episode, the show turned its attention to disability as one couple received a spina bifida diagnosis for their baby.

“General Hospital” mainstays Sonny (Maurice Benard) and a pregnant Carly (Laura Wright) learn during a recent medical check-up their unborn baby likely has spina bifida. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1,645 babies are born with the condition each year. The Spina Bifida Association notes there are several types of spina bifida that can cause a range of symptoms, including mobility challenges.

Spina bifida occurs when the neural tube in a baby’s spine doesn’t close or develop as expected. Depending on the size or location of the opening in the spine, babies may require surgery. During the episode, Carly learns she will need to deliver her baby via C-section, but the show hints she and Sonny will have to grapple with some difficult emotions, unknowns and potential decisions in the months ahead.

It’s unclear how Sonny and Carly’s child’s story will play out and how “General Hospital” will portray disability. However, the challenges the couple will face on TV may be relatable for other parents who received a diagnosis for their child before they were born. Mighty contributor Becky Rupnick shared what this journey can be like for parents in her article, “To the Mother Who Just Received Her Child’s Spina Bifida Diagnosis.” Rupnick wrote:

As you listen to the doctor tell you statistics about your child’s condition, understand these are only numbers. Your child is not a number nor a statistic. With you by their side, the world is filled with endless possibilities.

As you scramble to feverishly take notes on how your child’s life may play out, know that no one, not even a doctor, can predict the future. Your child will inherit your strength, your love, you dedication, and your advocacy and will grow to be to a powerful miracle of life.

The show’s most recent plotline isn’t the first time “General Hospital” represented disabilities and other health conditions. Actress Maysoon Zayid, who currently plays the lawyer Zahra Amir in a recurring role on the soap, has cerebral palsy. In 2018, “General Hospital” earned a Sentinel Award for its portrayal of Sonny’s father’s Alzheimer’s disease.

New episodes of “General Hospital” air weekdays at 2 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

Header image via ABC

Originally published: July 2, 2019
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