June 30, 2042
Awaiting the final application of the government’s justice, knowing in a few short hours I will meet my Maker, I find my thoughts settling only on you and your mother. You were a small child when I was sentenced by the federal government, and while you are not yet an adult, from your mother’s letters I know both that she has been unable to tell you the true story for fear you would blame yourself and that you are man enough to hear it now. It’s important to me that you understand the truth and that you know why I made the decisions I made. The truth is that by the letter of the law, I am guilty. But there is so much more to the story.
You were born with a birth defect in your heart. Put simply, your heart valves and arteries were underdeveloped. Your mother and I were told you had the condition before you were born. We were given three choices: end the pregnancy, just let “nature take its course” after you were born, or put you on drugs at birth and cross our fingers that surgery would be approved for you before the drugs became ineffective, which we were told was typically around the first birthday. So we chose option three. But we also began to prepare for a possible fourth option.
At that time, hospitals and doctors were much like what you deal with when your mom takes you to the doctor now: your caseworker examined your file and decided what the hospital or doctor was authorized to do for you. But it hadn’t been that way for long. Technically states still set most of the rules for doctors, and many allowed doctors to perform a wide array of things on a cash basis because it not only took some pressure off the government system but the states also taxed the transactions. Your procedure was going to be very expensive, but we were able to come up with enough money to find a doctor in Texas with the necessary staff and equipment who was willing to do the surgery. We were very optimistic. We were happy.
When you were nine months old, we were told your surgery had not been approved. We were disappointed of course, but not worried. We contacted the private doctor and made the arrangements, setting a date for your surgery. We had six weeks to wait, but then we would have the rest of our lives with you. And then fate intervened.
The United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that healthcare was not only a right guaranteed by the Constitution, but differences in the quality of that care were violations of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The ruling meant that doctors were no longer subject to state laws, but instead, worked exclusively at the whim of the federal government. It meant that private doctors were illegal and that you wouldn’t be getting your surgery. The hospital where you were born refused to even reexamine your case. It was a death sentence for you.
You never met the doctor who saved your life. He wasn’t a young man when he operated on you and died in prison when you were five. He was, as we said in my day, old school. He hated that his beloved profession had become servitude to the state. He called me shortly after our hearing at the hospital was denied and said if we were willing, he would perform the surgery for free. He said it was technically illegal and carried a harsh penalty, but that he was old enough to have learned that sometimes we’re faced with choices, and we know that if we don’t make the risky one we know to be right, we won’t be able to live with ourselves. He said that his three nurses were all also willing to take the risk if it meant saving your life.
As it turned out, only two of them were willing. The federal agents intentionally waited until the doctor had opened you up just to increase the number of things they could charge him with after the fact. God bless that cantankerous old Texan; he looked at me when we heard them coming in, and his only words were “I gave you my word. You give me the time, and I’ll get this done.” I knew what he meant.
You can read the transcripts and press reports from my trial for the rest of the details. They are generally accurate. Three employees of the federal government died at my hand, I’ve never disputed that fact. My defense was that I had done it to defend the life of another and that it was justified. A jury of my so-called peers (cowards all) disagreed. I pray that the Almighty sees it the same way I do, but if He doesn’t it will still have been worth it. I could not have done otherwise.
It’s time for me to go now, son. The man will be here soon to collect on my debt. I needn’t remind you of normal things like taking care of your mom and sister or school or being a good man: I know you’ll take care of those things. All I ask is that you remember that I made my choices as a free man, and I would make the same choices over again for a thousand lifetimes. Remember that no government of men has the right to dictate to you your worth as a human being, or to demand all the fruits of your labor. Remember that though I died in their cage, in my heart I was with you, and I was free.
I remain always,
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.