I wrote this story today. It’s short but says something. I think.
“I support a woman’s right to choose. It’s as simple as that. It’s her body.” Linda repeated the statement as mantra, just as she’d heard it said to her so many times by her classmates at Stanford.
“But it’s a baby, or it could be,” said Neil. He sipped his coffee and leaned back in his chair. He smashed down a rising anger within.
“It’s the mother’s body,” she repeated.
That evening, Linda went to bed with the normal and human expectation of waking the next morning. She had no terminal disease of which she was aware.
But aliens from the planet Halmatrus decided that they wanted to experiment with human ethical reasoning. How far could the Halmatrusians stretch the ethos of any given human being? Linda happened to be one of the subjects chosen for the alien’s scientific experiment which consisted of this: A person was chosen who held strong opinions on a given subject. The human was then transported back in time, and placed in a situation that challenged the person’s ability to remain faithful to his or her professed beliefs.
“You will be sent back in time, Linda Higgins,” the chief scientist explained to her. “and there, you will make some very important choices that could change the future.”
Linda thought that this was a grand opportunity. How many people get the chance to change the future? She had several things in mind. Several ways in which she could make the time to come much better than it had turned out in the future.
One day, in the past, Linda found a young woman, about the same age as Linda herself, crying at a bus stop. It took Linda several minutes to calm the lady down.
“What’s wrong? Can I help?” Linda loved to feel as though she were helping those who couldn’t help themselves.
“I just found out I’m pregnant,” said the young woman. “I can’t bring up a baby alone. My parents will disown me.”
“There are options you know.” Linda reassuringly ran her hand over the crying woman’s hair. “There’s a family planning clinic down the street. Have you considered it?”
“I couldn’t.” The woman looked up at Linda, searching for Linda’s argument. It was then that Linda delivered the most beautiful, succinct speech on a woman’s right to choose if she gave birth or not. The speech was soft, yet strong; she gave all of the reasons that a woman should only have babies that they felt were fated for a good life. “This is a bad world, a tough world,” Linda said. “why bring a life to it that has less than it will need to thrive?”
When Linda was done talking, the woman felt better. She wiped the tears from her cheeks. Only a rose colored glow gave evidence that she had been crying. She was convinced and relieved. The woman knew, now and thanks to Linda, that she would not have to live with the burden of an unwanted baby.
Two weeks later, the woman scheduled an appointment with a doctor at the family planning clinic. And two weeks after that, she went in to have a procedure done. A procedure that guaranteed that the fetus growing in her womb would not grow too large and become what we call a baby, and that baby would not have to deal with the pains of life. That was how the woman made herself feel better about what she’d done. She’d spared the child unnecessary pain.
Guilt may have taken root in the woman if she had known the effects of her actions. Just as the doctor completed the procedure, Linda blinked from existence. She simply disappeared, leaving a void in space for a nano second. The void closed with a crack, leaving no evidence that Linda had ever existed.
If only Linda would have asked the young woman her last name. If only. She may have recognized the name as her mother’s maiden name. And then, Linda may have considered the metaphysical aspects of her actions, that she had endorsed her own wiping from history.
Back on the planet Halmatrus, the scientists there were awed by humanity’s ability to stand up for what it believed in.