"A Fighting Chance," WRC-TV's hour-long documentary to be broadcast on Channel 4 tonight at 10 and Monday at 4 p.m. is a kickoff for a long-term campaign against infant mortality in the Washington area.
It has some very moving, even very powerful elements, but its focus is unclear. At first it seems to be trying to get at why the District has an infant mortality rate worse than some Third World countries, but it ends up with some severely impaired babies born into families where there were no drugs, no smoking, nothing but the best possible prenatal care.
Sure, at the start we see teen-age girls who have babies because, says their obstetrician, "they're cute. They're something to have. They can't have a car so they have a baby."
It's disturbing to see the mother who knows she shouldn't smoke. "I'm bad," she says.
And it's wrenching to see the PCP baby whose mother smoked "Love Boat" through her pregnancy. "I prayed to God he'd be all right," she says. The baby had violent tremors for two weeks and faces a dismal future. "The doctor told me, and he said, 'Do you hear me?' and I said yes, but I smoked Love anyway. I was scared when I saw the shaking and if I ever have another child I'll never smoke it."
Does anyone believe her? More to the point, is anyone who ought to be getting this message going to watch this program? Show it in the elementary schools in this area and maybe it will reach someone. At 10 o'clock on a Saturday night or 4 p.m. on a weekday, forget it.