The elevator door opened on the third floor at the Massachusetts Federal and State Court. Standing nearest the door was a young woman, perhaps in her early 30s, dressed in black slacks and a long grey ruffled blazer. Black hair pulled back, with just a hint of a tail swinging when she walked. To her left, only a step back, was a tall man also appearing to be in his early 30s. Sporting a pressed baby blue oxford shirt with black and white tie, he towered over the other two in the elevator at nearly a foot taller. His cleanly shaven head a style choice of his own doing, he wore an anxious expression on his face. To his immediate right, a woman of about the same height as the other leaned against the wall. Her blonde hair fell just past her shoulder blades, framing the tired expression written clearly across her face. She is clearly several months into pregnancy.
They walked down the hall in the Commonwealth’s Family Court section of the courthouse. The faux wooden floor showed increasing signs of wear as a result of a recent bill passed by the legislature of the great state of Massachusetts which had increased cases in this area nearly twofold. The whitish-blue hue of the lights reflected off the metal clasps with a twinkle, undoubtedly from the third light overhead that seemed to be dancing with each footfall. As they passed through the hall, the man noted the numbers on the doors. Perspiration gathered on his forehead as the room numbers got higher; 309, 310, 311, 312.
They were at the entrance to their assigned courtroom.
A computerized voice begins, “Please place thumb on pad.”
The young woman in the grey blazer steps up first. Setting her briefcase on the floor, she leans over slightly to place her right thumb on the scanner. “Counselor Kathleen Dearborn, you are authorized. Please step to your right.”
The other young lady steps forward, trepidation clearly evident in her expression and body language. She places her right thumb unto the scanner. “Mrs. Heidi Teach, age 32, approved. Please step to your right.”
The gentleman, seemingly frozen in his spot, looked over to the pregnant woman. He looked stressed to the brink of fainting.
“Mr. Teach, you need to place your thumb on the scanner so we can enter,” said the counselor.
He finally mustered the strength to move towards the machine, placing his thumb upon the scanner as well. “Mr. Benjamin Teach, age 34, approved.”
“All may enter the court.”
The mechanical doors opened swiftly, the aroma of wood and leather wafted out from the court house. This room has been used frequently lately and the discolored surface shows a pattern of high-traffic wear.
The three walked into the courtroom. A small room, it contained just three chairs, flags of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and a large video screen between the flags. The computerized voice came over the speaker once more.
“Please be seated until the judge is ready to hear the case.”
One by one they sat, with the counselor sitting nearest the right wall. She appeared confident and rested the briefcase on her lap. Quietly opening it, she gathered up some papers. Mr. Teach moved his chair slightly closer to his wife. He reached out his hand to hers and she accepted it. They gazed at each other, both clearly worried and each clearly in love with the other.
Three minutes later the video screen came on. The state emblem was shown toward the center; however, it was the numbers below that cut everyone’s eyes. It read: Estimated time before judge enters, 3 minutes 14…13…12 seconds...
As the time approached zero, the light changed color from vibrant blue mild yellow hue.
“Please rise for the Honorable Marjorie Smith,” rang out the computerized voice.
An older female appeared on the screen, her once-brown hair laced heavily with strands of silver. She wore the customary judge’s robe and her emotions were muted, at least facially.
Once more the computerized voice came on: “Your honor, this is case number 352-2901, Commonwealth of Massachusetts versus Mr. and Mrs. Teach.”
The judge looked quickly down at her iPad, then back at the individuals in the room. “Mr. and Mrs. Teach, please rise.”
The married couple rose together, still holding hands.
“Mr. Benjamin Teach, 34 and Mrs. Heidi Teach, 32, both of 176 Devonshire Road, stand before this court to claim that you wish to keep your child. Is this correct?”
“Yes your honor,” they answered.
“Mr. Teach, what was your life value rating the last 2 years please?”
“7.75 and 8, your honor.”
The judge looked at Mrs. Teach. “And yours?”
“7.5 and 8.5, your honor.”
The judge nodded to both of them, then glanced back down at her notes. “It is my understanding that this is your first child, together or apart, and that per recent legislation, the results of your DNA testing at week 12 of pregnancy has brought you to this court. Very well, the court has entered your plea to have this child. Be seated.”
The judge tilted her head in the direction of the counselor, “Please rise, Ms. Dearborn.” The judge waited for the attorney to rest the opened briefcase on the floor. “It is my understanding that in today’s case, you advocate in the interest of the Commonwealth more than for the child. Is this correct?”
“Yes your honor, though I will do my best for both.”
The judge looked down once again. “It is my understanding that DNA testing of both parents and the baby to be revealed that the child will be male and shares DNA traits of Mr. Teach. Is this correct?”
“Yes your honor.”
“What do the Commonwealth and the child have to say?”
“Your honor, as a result of the prenatal DNA and parentage testing, it was revealed that Mr. Teach has the gene for Alport Syndrome. The documentation I submitted explains the likelihood of a male offspring of Mr. Teach inheriting this syndrome even though he himself does not show signs of it. Using this standard, the Commonwealth has given the child a score of zero, as does the child itself. By this score, there is no other recourse than to terminate the pregnancy by statute 87-3841, The Cost Analysis of Each New Life.”
With this, young Mrs. Teach began to cry. Her husband held her hand tightly, the anger flashing across his brow unmistakable.
The judge, reading from her iPad, said: “I have an affidavit from Dr. Michael Bowman, an expert in the field of Alport Syndrome, that summarizes the following: That while Mr. Teach does not carry the dominant trait, it is indicated in the current offspring. Life expectancy of an individual with AS is under the age of 40 for nearly 90% of individuals with this condition. Additionally, women with this are typically only carriers and can live to normal life expectancy. With the genetic difficulties that will be passed on to the unborn child, it will likely need frequent medical attention. It is my opinion that any female offspring would be okay, but should be noted in their records of possible carrier genetics.”
The judge looked over to the couple. “I am sorry Mr. and Mrs. Teach. According to the Dr. Bowman’s affidavit and the laws of the Commonwealth, I have no option but to rule in favor of the Commonwealth and the baby. Termination of the defective offspring shall take place immediately. Additionally, per the recommendation of Dr. Bowman, I must also conclude that any further male offspring will have to be terminated upon the mandatory 12-week visit. If DNA results determine the offspring is female, you will be excluded from trial again and will be safe to have that child in peace. Additionally, if evidence should surface that changes Mr. Teach’s status as a carrier of the gene, or if a cure is found, you are invited to come back to this courtroom immediately to nullify the future male pregnancy ruling.”
The judge rose. “Mr. and Mrs. Teach, based on your life value rating, I have no doubt you both will be good parents one day. I am sorry that the ruling today goes against you. Case closed.”
With that the TV fell dark and the Teachs attempted to console each other as best they could. But they knew that outside the door was a bailiff waiting to escort them to Massachusetts General to terminate their child.
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