June 24th, 2022

"If I'd been raped instead of shot and gotten pregnant and got an abortion... would you still love me?"

Andrew set down his tablet and turned onto his side to face JenniAnn.


"I... I know it's just a hypothetical and I'm sorry for asking but... I need to know.  I don't know why.  I just do."

Andrew brought his hand to JenniAnn's cheek and gently brushed away a tear.

"Yes, Laja.  I would still love you.  Of course I would!"

"Would... would you have gone with me?  If I'd asked, I mean?" JenniAnn implored.

Andrew's breath caught in his throat as he peered into her eyes.

"The truth," JenniAnn prodded.

Andrew nodded.

"It... it would have broken my heart.  Because of what you would have gone through mostly.  But also... to lose something that was a part of you...  That would have been hard.  But not as hard as seeing you suffer... making it harder for you to heal.  Yes, Laja.  I would have gone... gone as far as you wanted me to... would have driven you there and through the door and..."

JenniAnn buried her face in his neck and let out a shaky breath.

"Thank you," she replied, the words muffled.

Andrew brushed his lips against her hair and circled his arms around her.

"My Laja...  Did you really think I would feel any differently?"

"I guess not.  No.  But... you are a little more conservative than I am."

"Maybe so.  And abortion... it doesn't make me happy.  But... I've seen far too much to be happy about what happened today.  I've been in too many back alleys... at the bottom of too many staircases...  I... I don't want to go back." 

"Andrew..."  JenniAnn nuzzled his shoulder.  "I... I don't know why it never occurred to me that you might have... seen the aftermath of botched illegal abortions.  I'm so sorry that I didn't think..."

"No.  Don't be sorry.  I don't want you spending your time thinking of all the different sorts of tragedies I may have seen.  Laja... I don't want that at all.  And this decision... I don't want to deflect from who it most impacts.  And that's you more than me.  It's our girls more than me."

"I just can't stop thinking about different scenarios... some that I never thought about before.  What if Rose had an ectopic pregnancy?  Or the baby had such catastrophic impairments that... that they'd be born only to die, maybe even in pain.  Or... or what if one of us was raped and conceived?  And then I thought about how we have access to New York and California.  And even if abortion was entirely banned... we could still get to the UK, to New Zealand.  El-Chanan may even..."

"They do," Andrew confirmed. 

"Good.  And thinking about that... it made me feel better.  But also very, very privileged.  Because not everyone... the vast majority... do not have access to portals to greater liberty.  And... I wish I'd asked Joshua about it.  How in all of these years did it never occur to me to ask what he really thinks?"

"I wouldn't be too hard on yourself for that, Laja.  When Joshua shows up... there's always so much going on.  And since it was always a hypothetical... well, I'm not surprised it didn't occur to you.  But... we can at least try to imagine what he would say."

"I think in cases when the mother's life is in danger... he would support her having a choice.  Because while he talked about sacrifice a lot... even sacrificed himself... he's always been very clear that he chose that.  I don't think he would force anyone to sacrifice themselves to save another."

"No, absolutely not.  And Jewish law is opposed to that.  He never challenged that.  Challenged a lot else... but not that."

"And in cases of rape... I think he'd be okay then, too.  Because as important as his birth was... Maryam was still asked.  Not told.  Not just made to conceive.  Asked.  And she said yes.  If God hinged the birth of the Redeemer on the consent of a woman... I have to believe He values consent," JenniAnn reasoned.

"Me too.  Definitely."

"In cases when there are fetal abnormalities inconsistent with life...  Well, he lived when detecting those things was impossible.  Unimaginable even.  So...  He couldn't have said anything about that.  But I just..."  Tears welled in JenniAnn's eyes.  "I just try to imagine what it would be like to... to so desperately want a baby... and then find out that baby won't live.  And in their very short life might be in pain...  I... I can't imagine a loving God wanting someone to carry that baby even when there's no hope... just dragging out the time before they can heal, physically and emotionally and spiritually.  Maybe... maybe that would be part of the grieving process for some, a long good bye.  But for others..."  JenniAnn shook her head.  "I know I couldn't do it.  And... and especially if one was older.  Continuing a non-viable pregnancy... it might mean cutting into time to try again.  And if you had other kids... to let them see your belly continue to grow but have to try to explain to them that it still doesn't mean the baby is going to come home... No.  I can't imagine He wants to impose that on anyone."

"Me neither."

"But I also...  I... I think of our Avi.  I think of Lily and Joy.  I think of the pressure Azalea and Kemara faced.  I even think... what if my epilepsy coulda been seen in vitro?  I don't like to think about abortion leading to eugenics b-but..."

Andrew caressed his anam cara's face and brushed hair back from her face as she wept.

"But... I've never had to consider not... not having the means to support a child with special needs.  The money but also just the time... the energy.  I mean... I basically grew up with... with two families, Andrew.  There was always someone there to help.  Not everyone has that.  So I can't say..."  JenniAnn closed her eyes for a moment.  "I don't know what Joshua would say..."

"I don't either.  Not for sure.  But... I know that any right can be abused.  That doesn't mean that right should be taken away from everyone.  Some people consistently drive drunk.  But driving is still legal.  Some people marry to use someone else... even because they think it will more or less give them ownership over another person.  But marriage is still legal.  I mean for crying out loud... some people buy guns to shoot up schools, places of worship... but guns are still legal with far, far fewer restrictions than are on abortion."  Andrew shook his head.  "Even if someone was carrying a baby that they were perfectly capable of supporting, of helping to flourish and chose to abort... that doesn't, in my mind, justify banning it for everyone... especially knowing that the most vulnerable, the poorest, people of color... it will impact them most of all.  No other law operates that way.  And, let's face it, a lot of laws... they aren't about what God would want.  Never have been.  I mean just think about the Ten Commandments.  Adultery... ha!  Just look at how many lawmakers cheat.  Taking the name of God in vain?  Legal.  Spending the Sabbath watching porn?  Legal."

"They want a theocracy only how and when it suits them."

"Yes.  And I'm not even convinced it's a real theocracy... based on the real God... that they want... they want a government based around a god made in their own image... not the other way around."

JenniAnn shivered.

"Sounds about right... sadly."

JenniAnn tried to stifle a yawn.

Andrew kissed her forehead.

"Try to get some sleep, Laja.  Tomorrow...  Tomorrow we'll figure out what we need to do."

"I'll try."  JenniAnn kissed Andrew and cradled his face.  "Thank you for talking this through with me.  I love you."

"Of course, darlin'.  I love you, too."

For the next several minutes, Andrew softly hummed their favorite songs until JenniAnn drifted to sleep.  He held her close, her head tucked beneath his chin, her hand rested over his heart.  In her sleep, she didn't feel his heart begin to race as he remembered... 
The scents of soap and cleanser filling his nostrils.  "Love Me Tender" crackling on the radio from another room... punctuated by gasps and screams.

"It... it's not stopping.  Some... something's wrong.  I... I feel..."

Andrew knelt beside the girl.  She couldn't have been more than fifteen.  Blood pooled on the tile floor.

She wept.

"Oh God... God...  I... I'm going to die."

She became conscious of him then.  She recoiled.

"Who..."  She gasped as she felt another stab of pain. 

Andrew smiled gently.

"I'm Andrew.  I'm an angel sent from God."

"God..."  She screamed.

Andrew fought back tears.  He needed to be strong for her now.

"T-tell God...  I... I'm sorry.  It...  My uncle...  I didn't want him to...  Begged him not..."

"He knows.  He knows, sweetheart.  And... it's not for you to be sorry.  What was done to you was wrong.  So wrong.  A-and that you were left alone to deal with the consequences..."

"She said it was safe!"

"I know..."

"There was no... no where else... to... to go..."

"I know..."

Andrew wrapped his arms around her as she began to tremble.  She was quiet for several minutes.

"Light... so much light..."

Andrew smiled and nodded.

"Heaven's light.  It's time to go Home... go to your Father who loves you so much... to the One who gave everything for you..."

For the first time, she smiled.  Her hand stretched out then fell to the tile floor.

Andrew escorted her Home, into the waiting arms of God.

Then he returned.  He stared at the small, pale body.  At the blood.  He thought of the woman who had done this... meaning to help but lacking the skills, the training.  But there was no one else... not in this small town.

Her mother entered the bathroom and began screaming.  There was pounding on the steps and then came her father.  He knelt beside his daughter's body and sobbed. 

If this was life... Andrew didn't recognize it.

Author's Notes:

Just my ramblings as I grapple with this...

To be clear, I realize we aren't going right back to pre-1973 America.  There will be options beyond throwing one's self down staircases and going to illegal abortionists.  Medication will make a difference.  But I also don't think it's the cure-all some people want it to be.  Is a pregnant person trapped in an abusive, controlling home going to be able to order them?  I don't feel confident in saying so.  But at least it's out there which puts us in a better position than people were pre-Roe v. Wade... assuming there's not a crack down on that which is a bold assumption IMO.

I am concerned about the many means of surveillance out there now that weren't even dreamed of when abortion was previously illegal.  In that way, we're worse off.  When we already have one state encouraging people to become bounty hunters... who knows what comes next.  And the fear of that?  I absolutely believe it will lead to people trying dangerous herbal "remedies" and seeking out unsafe abortionists like the girl in this story.  (ETA: Editing this a month later and this is now happening with the herbal crap.)  She was deliberately left nameless to stand in for all those lost, whose stories we'll never know.

I am Christian.  I believe life is a gift from God.  But I don't believe my personal religious convictions should be the basis for controlling the behavior of other people, for stripping them of rights.  Separation of church and state is vital in a democracy.  Without it... we are doomed.  I just want to ask the people celebrating all this... exactly which version of Christianity do you think should be governing us?  What makes you so confident that your version will stand the test of time?  Because, trust me, there are a lot of people who would be very unhappy if my version of Christianity... the one I'm convinced is the true one... were made the law of the land.  But it shouldn't be.  And I know that.  Why don't you?  (ETA: And what sort of god would be happy about a woman suffering FOR DAYS from lack of medical treatment as she's miscarrying?  If someone thinks that's okay...  That's not Christian.  That's evil, plain and simple.  If that's you... you have blood on your hands.  The blood of women, yes.  But also the blood of Jesus whose church you are murdering by replacing The Way with Christo-Fascism.  I don't blame a single person who loses their faith over this.  I don't think God does, either.  The blame, I believe, will rest solely with those who twisted the teachings of Jesus into something designed to control and abuse others.  It will not go unnoticed.  His eye is on the sparrow and all...)

To paraphrase the great Mama Doctor Jones, you can say fetuses have rights.  What you can't do is say they have rights that no one else does.  Someone out there is going to die because they need a heart transplant.  That doesn't mean the government has a right to take your heart.  No person has the right to use your body to keep themselves alive without your consent.  No one.

Anyway, rant over.  For now.  I did want to say that I respected TBAA having the angels remain pretty non-partisan on political issues.  I'm glad Andrew wasn't giving his opinions on abortion on the show.  But the Dyeland stories are different.  While I think Andrew would still try to be as apolitical as possible with his assignments, I don't think God would expect nor even want for him to be like that with JenniAnn... the woman he's sharing a life and children with.  I think he'd be encouraged to be open with his kids, too.  Maybe even just friends.  I think there's Andrew in his official capacity and just Andrew-as-Andrew.  For those who are close with the latter... I think they can get an earful.

Also, the random mention of New Zealand will make sense later.  Three as yet unreleased stories happen before this but I had to get this off my chest. 

And, for the record, I was anti-abortion once.  So I don't think every anti-abortion person is evil.  Short-sighted?  Privileged?  Uninformed?  Yeah maybe.  But not universally evil.  It's the people behaving callously, being flippant, threatening doctors, tormenting women outside clinics, and legislating all of this when they don't even know basic things about, say, menstruation... it's them whose behavior I think is evil.  And, yes, I do think they will be judged for it.