Empty Cradle (TV Movie 1993) - Plot Summary Poster

(1993 TV Movie)


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  • Jane Morgan gives birth to her baby at the hospital. When she wakes up the next morning, the hospital tells her that her son died at birth. However from ultrasound reading she had before, she knew she was having a girl. Now the hospital is stone-walling her, saying she is just in denial, due to her loss. Now she is trying to fight the system, to find evidence of the apparent mistake by the hospital. Only it wasn't the hospital's mistake. Nurse Rita Donohue is the one who made the switch. She faked a pregnancy to hang on to her roving boyfriend. But she grabbed the wrong baby, her boyfriend wants a son, so now she's faking a second pregnancy, and making plans to get another baby.

  • She did not know for sure she was having a girl. The manager of the grocery store that she worked at called her and told her to come to the store to pick up her paycheck but they were actually giving her a surprise baby shower. As they were walking to the employee area he asked if she knew what she was having and she said that she did not know but she had a feeling it was a girl.

  • Woman who can't have child of her own fakes a pregnancy to hold on to boyfriend who's away traveling. When it comes time to deliver, she murders a pregnant woman and surgicaly removes the baby by cesarean.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Jane Morgan (Lori Loughlin) is the mother of two children, Sally (Camilla Belle) and Sam (Zachary Browne), and pregnant with a third. She has been separated from her husband Bob (David Lansbury) for a while, who is desperate to win back his wife's affection. At five days past her due date, Jane goes into labor. Everything is going well, until she is suddenly sedated by a nurse, Rita Donahue (Kate Jackson). Hours later, she regains consciousness. The doctor wrongly informs her that she went into labor prematurely and that her baby was stillborn. Noticing the level of drugs that were in her body after labor, he suspects that she has abused pills, which he thinks caused the death.

    Little does Jane know that Rita - with the help of her teenage son Patrick (Jonah Blechman) - kidnapped her baby daughter, and switched records between a stillborn child and healthy child to make it appear as if Jane's baby was stillborn. Rita faked a pregnancy for months to keep her drifting lover Frank (Don Yesso) from leaving her. When Frank- who is married to another woman- shows his disappointment that "their" child is not a boy, Rita responds in anger and immediately sets out to somehow get a baby boy as well. Sometime later, she announces that she is pregnant again, and poses under the assumed name Elaine Crisp to take care of a pregnant woman who will deliver a boy. When Rita finds out that the woman knows about her true identity, she instead induces the labor of a 30-year-old woman named Theresa Richland (Elizabeth Daily) in her home, cuts her throat, and steals her baby.

    Meanwhile, Jane becomes convinced that her baby wasn't stillborn, but instead of receiving support, her relatives and best friend Sharon (Michelle Joyner) believe that she is addicted to drugs and suffering from a depression, and suggest her to visit a psychiatrist. Even though she is estranging herself from everyone she knows, Jane continues to find out the truth and slowly recollects all the memories of her labor. In the hospital, she runs into Nurse Ramsey (Karmin Murcelo), who helped her with her labor before Rita stepped in. Ramsey admits that she remembers that her baby was alive and healthy when she last checked up on her, but she is too afraid to support her theories. Therefore, Jane hires attorney Gail Huddle (Penny Johnson) to sue the hospital, only to find out her case is hopeless since her records have gone missing (due to Rita).

    Back in the hospital, Detective Knoll (Eriq La Salle) suspect Rita as Theresa's killer, because Theresa's boyfriend Tom Burke (Blake Gibbons) identified her as her midwife. After giving him a false alibi, she instructs Patrick over the phone to give Knoll the same story if he is questioned. Nevertheless, Knoll instructs an examination, during which her doctor concludes that she has had a hysterectomy over ten years ago and cannot give birth to children. Afterwards, Rita admits to the murder of Theresa and having stolen two babies, but refuses to tell who the first baby's mother is. Nonetheless, Knoll locates Jane, and happily reunites her with her daughter.

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