The Coin Toss

James R. Muri

Copyright, 1996 
A short piece on page 12 of the Kansas City Star Lifestyles section:
Dateline, Washington:

A reluctant President today signed the 201x budget bill, even though it contained the controversial "Coin Toss" provision in addition to amending womens' freedom of choice in having abortions late in pregnancy.

"There'll be challenges to this provision," the President is quoted as saying, "But we need this budget, so we'll just have to let it get worked out through the court system."

She entered the clinic just as she had before, and for the same reason. She filled out the paperwork as she had before - and for the same reason.

She sat in the interview room and waited, just as she had before - - and for the same reason. But the interview was a little different.

"You understand that your baby is in its third trimester," the counsellor asked, "and would very likely be healthy and live if it were delivered?"

"Of course. I'm not stupid," she huffed.

"And that two of you came into this clinic, both with futures?"

She looked at the counsellor, surprised. "No, only one of us has a future. The other is unwanted. Now can we get on with this? It's bad enough as it is, without having to listen to all this - this crap!"

The counsellor looked at her, then back down to her notes. "You had a previous abortion, is that correct?"

"Yes. As you very well know. You were here, you interviewed me."

"And has the father been consulted about this choice of yours?"

She laughed. "I'm sure that the father isn't concerned."

"There is no one to mourn, then?"

Another startling question. "Mourn? Mourn what?" She tapped her belly. "Mourn this? Not likely!"

The interviewer checked off another block on the interview sheet, looked up. "Well, then I suppose we should get started. You remember what comes next?"

She got up, crossly terse. "Yeah, I remember. Go in there, change into a gown, get up on the table. Then some geek with a mask will come in and have me sniff some gas, and I'll go to sleep, and wake up without this problem."

The counsellor opened her mouth to say something, then closed it, smiled. "That's - well, pretty much it," she affirmed carefully. "So - go ahead."

The girl's mother showed up at the clinic six days later.

"Have you seen my daughter," she asked tentatively, the shame evident in her shifting eyes. "She said she was coming here again. But I haven't seen her since."

The lady at the front desk looked through the records for the girl's name. "Yes, she was here." She looked up, a sad expression on her face. "But I'm afraid she lost the coin toss."

"Coin toss? What coin toss? She came here to have an - an abortion."

The lady came around the counter and took the older woman by the arm, then walked her over to a chair and sat her down.

"She did, Ma'am. But the new law requires a coin toss on late abortions to see who gets aborted. Your daughter lost. But you have a healthy grandson, and you can see him and claim him, if you choose, over at General."

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