Paul sat in the waiting room with his head in his hands. He’d considered bolting every ten minutes since he’d arrived, but burly, surly-looking guards stood near every exit. He was trapped in a prison of a court order and his own poor decision. He looked up, glanced around, and put his head right back where it was, his palms pushing his eyeballs uncomfortably into the sockets.
“How could this happen?” He thought. “I don’t deserve this.” His mind raced as he tried to think of an out. How was he going to afford this? After the ruling he was on his own. He’d receive no financial support and was responsible for the cost of the procedure and everything that came after it. Society had forced this on him and now he was stuck. What about his plans for the future?
What about the money he’d set aside? He was going to have to leave college in his final year because of this. Regret made his diaphragm feel like it had been stabbed with a hot lance. he stifled a sob as he realized his future was now all about this, what started today. “How could she do this to me?” he cried internally.
It started a month before, when he hooked up with Heather at a party. They’d been on a date or two but it never went anywhere before, but between the familiarity and the beer, he’d managed to be smooth enough to get her alone. He didn’t have a condom, but he lied, and she was tipsy enough to not notice, plus he pulled out so how could it be his fault?
But the god damn judge saw it her way. Witnesses confirmed he hadn’t been drinking and it was determined that he had to be the father. Fine he said, he accepted responsibility, but objected to her desire to have an abortion. He claimed she consented based on her previous involvement with him, and he insisted he was against terminating the pregnancy. “It’s my child!” he’d shouted and the judge listened.
But holy god had that backfired in a way he’d never expected. He’d never even heard of the procedure before. He glanced up at the guards again and started to cry a little. This was really happening.
It was all coming back to bite him; his involvement in the CCC (Campus Christian Coalition), the pro-life rallies, the hours on social media telling women they were killing their babies, accept the responsibility, you had sex, you made the choice, all of it.
People had told him “If you want the fetus to live so much, gestate it and raise it yourself!” He’d called them murderers. They were going to hell. She chose to have sex, she should take responsibility for it.
SHE should take responsibility for it.
Not so said the judge. In another room, Heather was sitting with his baby in her, 6 weeks developed. The billboard he’d donated money to put up said it had a heartbeat and fingerprints. He believed that wholeheartedly. Up until the moment the judge made her decision.
The procedure was multipart: The father who demanded the baby be carried full term was outfitted with a lab-grown artificial uterus using the father’s DNA. The fetus was gently removed from the mother and inserted into the new uterus. A new gland would be inserted to make sure the growing fetal tissue developed into a baby with as little issue as possible, and when gestation was finished, the dad would have a brand new baby to raise, his legal responsibility until adulthood.
“Paul? Please come with us.” He looked up into the face of a rather smug looking nurse. Two guards flanked her. “Smile, you got your wish. Your fetus will be carried to term.”
“You mean her baby?”
The nurse looked at the paperwork, pretending to study it. “Nope, medically speaking it’s a fetus. But don’t worry, buddy” she said as she sarcastically nudged his chin “In 8 months it will be a baby and all yours.”
“Society is so unfair to men…” Paul spit.
One of the guards rolled his eyes. “Just shut up. No one is oppressing you. You got exactly what you wanted, this kid’s going to get born.” Double doors opened into a room with a hospital bed and a TV on a swivel.
“Get undressed and get in the bed. Put on that gown and put your legs up in the stirrups.”
“What?!” he shouted.
“Please keep it down sir. Don’t get emotional. They just need to check your pelvic area to make sure you’re healthy enough to carry your future child. It’s minimally invasive, they just go through the colon for an ultrasound from the inside.” The nurse stated calmly.
“Can you all leave the room?” He whimpered.
“No, sir. According to the law, your body is public property now.” The nurse chastised. “Plus, aren’t you saving a life? You should be ecstatic.”
An hour later, thoroughly humiliated and feeling violated, Paul was lying in his bed. Fox News was playing on the TV and someone was pontificating about God’s plan for children. He was fading fast as the anesthesia kicked in.
His last thought before darkness took him was how unfair it was that one night, one poor decision had changed his life forever.