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Fetus Envy
by Melissa Maxwell

Cast:

JUDGE: male, 50's, any ethnicity
WOMAN: white, 30's
PROSECUTOR: white male, 40's
DEFENSE ATTORNEY: white female, 30's-40's
MAN: white, 30's
BAILIFF: black male, 20's-30's
OFFICERS OF THE COURT: male, any ethnicity
PLACE: A court room
TIME: The not too distant future
NOTE: There should be a quick, clipped pace to the entire scene.

Lights up on a Judge in full robe behind a bench. A Bailiff stands to his left. In front of them are two tables: one for prosecution, one for defense. The judge hits his gavel once.

JUDGE

Next case.

BAILIFF
(handing Judge a file)

Case number 25984. All present.

Simultaneously, a mousey, non-virile looking, yet very bombastic man (prosecutor), in a suit and glasses, carrying a briefcase, rushes in; while from the other side two court officers rush in dragging a handcuffed woman.

WOMAN

Let me go. Will you... Hey! I said. Take your... LET. GO. OF. ME --

PROSECUTOR

Your Honor, the state would like to bring your attention to--

JUDGE
(hitting gavel)

Order... Order...

Everyone quiets down.

JUDGE

Mr. Richmen. Back again so soon. Alright, let's hear it.

PROSECUTOR

People versus Sturgeon, Your Honor --

WOMAN

There's obviously been some mistake.

OFFICER OF THE COURT
(interjecting)

That's what they all say.

WOMAN

Your Honor, I was in the grocery store, minding my own business, when these two GOONS came along and abducted me. Never read me my rights, never even told me what I was supposedly being charged with. And roughed me up, I might add.

JUDGE

Mr. Richmen?

PROSECUTOR

Murder, Your Honor.

WOMAN

What?!

PROSECUTOR

Murder in the first degree.

WOMAN

That's ridiculous! I didn't kill anybody.

PROSECUTOR
(grandiose, points at woman)

Where were you on Tuesday, June tenth of last year, young lady?

JUDGE

You're getting ahead of yourself, Mr. Richmen.

WOMAN

Your Honor, I'm innocent. I'm telling you.

JUDGE

Mrs. Sturgeon, you'll have plenty of time to plead your case.

WOMAN

I don't have a case. Like I said --

JUDGE
(hitting gavel)

Mrs. Sturgeon this is a court room, not a rock concert. Kindly conduct yourself appropriately.

WOMAN

Yes, Your Honor, but --

JUDGE

Here's a hint, Mrs. Sturgeon: only when spoken to.

WOMAN

But Your Honor --

JUDGE

Your parents did teach you that?

WOMAN

Yes, but --

JUDGE

Good. Then not another peep unless otherwise directed. Now, do you have counsel or would you like one appointed to you?

WOMAN

I don't NEED counsel. Haven't you heard a word I've --

JUDGE

It's a simple yes or no question Mrs. Sturgeon. You either have counsel or you don't. Unless, of course, you're one of those whack jobs who insists on representing yourself.

WOMAN

Would SOMEONE PLEASE LISTEN to --

JUDGE
(explodes)

Bailiff!

Officers grab woman.

WOMAN

Hey. Wait. What are you...? No. Don't. Help --

Bailiff removes a roll of duct tape from his pocket, rips off a large piece and covers her mouth.

JUDGE

I gave you fair warning, Mrs. Sturgeon, but you insist on doing things the hard way. Next time I'll hold you in contempt. Now, let's try this again: Do you have counsel or will you be representing yourself today?

Woman mumbles, shaking head vigorously.

JUDGE

I'll take that as a no on both counts. * Therefore, an attorney will be appointed to you.

*Simultaneously, a female lawyer, a la Gloria Allred (intense, efficient, no nonsense) enters. She pulls out a large compact and primps.

JUDGE

No need, Ms. Pierce. No cameras in the court room today.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Shoot! I knew I should have gone with that separation of church and state case.

JUDGE

I take it you're familiar with the case?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

I was only just now assigned it, Your Honor, but having glanced at the material, I believe I'm prepared to go forward, as it appears to be a very straightforward case.

JUDGE

Mr. Richmen?

PROSECUTOR

Prosecution is eager to proceed, Your Honor.

JUDGE

Very good then.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Your Honor, my client wishes to plea not guilty by reason of insanity.

Woman objects, mumbling wildly, but is completely ignored by everyone.

PROSECUTOR

Objection, Your Honor. Ms. Pierce is up to her usual shenanigans --

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

And I object to Mr. Richmen's attempt to besmirch my good reputation.

PROSECUTOR

C'mon, Barbara. This is your typical bag of tricks.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Sherman, I have a duty to defend my client --

JUDGE
(hitting gavel)

Look, I've got a fiftieth wedding anniversary to attend this evening for which my wife will kill me if I'm late. So can we please refrain from the personal attacks and stick to the matter at hand.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Your Honor, I have written testimony and documentation from the defendant's psychiatrist that she was on Prozac at the time the alleged murder took place, clearly indicating that she was not in the proper state of mind and ultimately not responsible for --

PROSECUTOR

Oh, please. Your Honor, I'm on Prozac. But you don't see me running around killing people, do you?

JUDGE

Sustained.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Your Honor!

JUDGE

Sorry counsel. I gotta go with the prosecution on this one. Half the nation's on Prozac. Heck, I've been on it for the last three years now. So you're going to have to do better than that. Alright then, let's move on.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Your Honor, if I may --

PROSECUTOR

Oh, for goodness sake.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

I'd like to consult with my client for a moment.

PROSECUTOR

Quit stalling and let's get on with it already.

JUDGE

Thank you for your concerns with time, Mr. Richmen, but I'll be the judge of that.
(Cracks himself up.)
Since counsel has only now been assigned the case and had no prior contact with her client, I'll allow it.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Thank you, Your Honor.

JUDGE

Two minutes, Ms. Pierce, and only two minutes. Make good use of your time.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Thank you. I shall.

Pulls woman aside, removes tape from her mouth. This is a rapid exchange.

WOMAN

Thank God. These people are crazy.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Laura, listen, it doesn't look good.

WOMAN

I didn't kill anybody.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

I've seen the evidence.

WOMAN

Evidence? What are you talking about?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Best we can hope for is a plea bargain.

WOMAN

But I didn't do anything!

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Manslaughter. Mandatory sentence ten years.

WOMAN

Whose side are you on, anyway?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

If I know Sherman, he'll go for it. But we've got to do it now if --

JUDGE

Thirty seconds, counsel.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Thank you, Your Honor.
(to woman)
Now, as your lawyer, I strongly suggest you take the deal.

WOMAN

Are you crazy?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Take the deal, Laura. It's the only chance you've --

WOMAN

No. I'm not admitting to something I didn't even do.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

If you don't take the deal, I can't guarantee you anything.

WOMAN

Look, I already told you --

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

This is your last chance.

JUDGE

Time's up.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY
(disgusted)

Yeah, well, don't say I didn't warn you.

She slaps tape back on woman's mouth and drags her back to the table.

JUDGE

What is your plea?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Innocent, Your Honor.

Judge looks at the defendant. She mumbles in agreement.

JUDGE

So noted. Now, Mrs. Sturgeon, in all fairness to you, I'm willing to remove that tape, but only under one condition: you promise to behave.

Woman vigorously nods.

JUDGE

No outbursts. No hysterics. Understood?

Woman vigorously nods again.

JUDGE

Bailiff.

Bailiff uncuffs her and rips off tape.

WOMAN

Ow!

JUDGE

Only when spoken to, Mrs. Sturgeon. Only when spoken to.

WOMAN
(re: judge's warning)

Thank you, Your Honor.

The Judge rolls his eyes, as she clearly doesn't get the meaning of only when spoken to.

JUDGE

Proceed.

PROSECUTOR

The state would like to put into evidence Mrs. Sturgeon's medical records --

WOMAN

Hey, those are private!

PROSECUTOR

The People's Need to Know Suspicious, Unlawful and Otherwise Deviant or Amoral Activities Act allows the government access to any and all records, private or otherwise, red-flagged for questionable motive and/or activity.

WOMAN
(to prosecutor)

I beg your pardon!
(to Judge)
There is absolutely nothing deviant or amoral about me.

PROSECUTOR

Then care to tell the court why on Tuesday, June tenth of last year, you chose to ABORT your unborn child.

There is a collective gasp in the court room, and all look at the Prosecutor.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Objection. Defense takes issue with the prosecution's use of terminology. Mrs. Sturgeon had a miscarriage, NOT an abortion.

PROSECUTOR

Semantics, Your Honor. Counsel is fully aware that under the Champion The Unheralded Child Act, a woman can be held responsible for...
(reading)
"...any and all actions that the court deems hurtful to, and which results in, directly or otherwise but not limited to, bringing about any irrevocable harm and/or death to a child." The prosecution will argue that the defendant's actions directly resulted in the premature and unlawful death of her unborn child.

JUDGE

Overruled.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

My client was in a very fragile state, both physically and emotionally. She can't be held responsible for things clearly beyond her control.

JUDGE

Overruled. I don't write the law, counsel, I just enforce it. As written, Mr. Richmen has every right to bring charges against your client. Whether they are true or not, Ms. Pierce, is your burden of proof. Continue.

PROSECUTOR

Mrs. Sturgeon, did you or did you not kill your child?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Objection. Defense takes issue with the word child. A fetus is NOT a child. Some might even argue that it isn't a living being --

PROSECUTOR

Your Honor --

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

As defined by the New Lexicon Webster's Dictionary --

JUDGE

Spare us the definition, Ms. Pierce. Need I remind you the Supreme Court already ruled on that: life begins at conception. Intellectual, not physical conception.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Yes, but it's a ruling with which I vehemently disagree.

JUDGE

Your problem, not mine. Now quit crying over spilled milk, and stop trying my patience. Mr. Richmen?

PROSECUTOR

Mrs. Sturgeon, did you not terminate a pregnancy last year?

WOMAN

He can't just talk to me like that, can he?

JUDGE

How would you prefer he address you: Mother may I?

WOMAN

No, but I mean, doesn't he have to call me forward, swear me in or something?

JUDGE

You intend to answer truthfully, don't you? Or is this an admission to perjury before the fact?

WOMAN

Yes. I mean, NO! I mean --

JUDGE

Please, Mrs. Sturgeon Just answer the question.

WOMAN

What was the question again?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Your Honor, I would like to advise my client that she is not obligated to testify if she so chooses.

JUDGE

Duly noted.

WOMAN

No, I want to. I have nothing to hide.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Just won't be happy 'til they throw away the key, will you?

Prosecutor leaves his table, begins playing the room, grandstanding.

PROSECUTOR

Mrs. Sturgeon, did you terminate your pregnancy last year?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Objection.

PROSECUTOR

I'll rephrase. Did you have a pregnancy that ended in termination?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Objection!

PROSECUTOR

Rephrase again. Did your pregnancy go to term?

Beat.

WOMAN

No.

PROSECUTOR

And why is that?

WOMAN

I lost the baby.

PROSECUTOR

I'm sorry, Mrs. Sturgeon. Kindly repeat that for the court.

WOMAN
(louder, more enunciated)

I lost the baby.

PROSECUTOR
(to audience as if to a jury)

Oh, I see. You "lost" the baby. "Lost" the baby. She says... she "lost"... her baby.

JUDGE

Who the hell are you talking to?

PROSECUTOR

Oh, uh, sorry, Your Honor.

Returning to his to his table, Prosecutor refers to his notes, regroups.

PROSECUTOR

Now, uh, Mrs. Sturgeon, would you admit that this "loss" was due largely in part to your own negligence?

LAWYER

Objection! Coercing --

WOMAN

No!

PROSECUTOR

Do you admit you had a complicated pregnancy?

WOMAN

Yes.

PROSECUTOR

And your doctor warned you of the consequences if you did not heed to his advice, did he not?

WOMAN

Well...

PROSECUTOR

It's a yes or no question, Mrs. Sturgeon.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Badgering, Your Honor.

JUDGE

Overruled. Mrs. Sturgeon, please answer Mr. Richmen's question.

WOMAN

Well, yes. But --

PROSECUTOR

And kindly tell the court what advice your doctor had given.

WOMAN

To stay in bed.

PROSECUTOR

You directly disobeyed his orders, didn't you?

WOMAN

No!

PROSECUTOR

No? Are you saying that at no time did you ignore your doctor's warning? Need I remind you Mrs. Sturgeon, this is a court of law. Perjury is a serious offence.

WOMAN

No. I mean, I tried. I did the best I could.

PROSECUTOR
(to audience again)

Oh, I see. You did "the best you could". She did "the best she could" ladies and gentlemen.

JUDGE

Will you cut that out!

PROSECUTOR

Sorry.

JUDGE

Geez.

PROSECUTOR

And isn't it true that instead of staying in bed like the doctor ordered, you chose to go to work?

WOMAN

I had to. I was in jeopardy of losing my job.

PROSECUTOR

Chose work over the health and well-being of your child.

WOMAN

I had been in bed for three and a half months, three and a --

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Badgering, Your Honor...

JUDGE

Order... Order...

PROSECUTOR

She chose work, ladies and gentlemen.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Prosecution is deliberately badgering my client.

JUDGE

Order.

WOMAN

My employer threatened to fire me if I didn't return to work. If I lost my job I'd lose my health insurance.

PROSECUTOR

Work, over the health and well-being of her poor, innocent, UNBORN child!

JUDGE
(hitting gavel)

Order in the court!

Everyone quiets down.

JUDGE

Mr. Richmen! You are NOT Perry Mason. Now reign it in and conduct yourself appropriately, or I'll sanction you. Do I make myself clear?

PROSECUTOR

Completely.

JUDGE

Good. Then proceed. With caution.

PROSECUTOR

The state would like to call its next witness.

Judge looks to Defense Attorney. She nods. Judge gives Prosecutor the okay.

PROSECUTOR

State calls to the stand Mr. Sturgeon.

Almost simultaneously he enters and stands by the bench. The defendant rushes to him, throwing her arms around him. He tentatively hugs her back.

WOMAN

Oh, honey. Thank God. Thank God you're here. Tell them. Tell them the truth.

WOMAN
(suddenly remembering Judge)

Oh, sorry.

She retreats to the defense table.

BAILIFF

Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

WOMAN

Hey. How come he --

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Shush.

MAN

I do.

PROSECUTOR

Mr. Sturgeon, you and your wife had been trying to conceive for a while, correct?

MAN

Yes.

PROSECUTOR

And, in fact, this was not her first miscarriage, was it?

MAN

No, it was not.

PROSECUTOR

How many had she had before?

MAN

Three.

PROSECUTOR

I'm sorry. That must have been difficult for you.

Man nods.

PROSECUTOR

Tell us, Mr. Sturgeon, as best you can, the reason for the multiple miscarriages.

MAN

Well, as the doctor put it, my wife has an inhospitable uterus. Something like that. The egg just didn't want to stick. Said it happens in some women. Like a rotten apple falling from a tree.

PROSECUTOR

To ensure that this baby made it to term, he advised her to stay in bed for the duration of her pregnancy. Did he not?

MAN

Yes.

PROSECUTOR

And was that working?

MAN

Well, it seemed to be. This was the longest she'd carried, anyway.

PROSECUTOR

And how long was that?

MAN

Twelve and a half weeks.

PROSECUTOR

So you believe that your wife did everything she possibly could to preserve the health and well-being of the child?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Objection. FETUS, not child.

JUDGE

Sustained.

PROSECUTOR

Do you believe she did everything possible to preserve the health and well-being of the fetus?

MAN

Well, yeah, but --

PROSECUTOR

Yeah, but what?

WOMAN

Yeah, but what?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Laura --

WOMAN

No, I want to hear this. But what?

JUDGE

Watch it, Mrs. Sturgeon.

MAN

I'm sorry, honey, but I swore to tell the truth.

JUDGE

Mr. Sturgeon, please refrain from addressing the defendant directly and answer the question.

MAN

Well, it's just that...

PROSECUTOR

Yes?

Man looks at his wife as if to say I'm sorry, then blurts out his answer.

MAN

I never got the sense that she truly wanted children?

WOMAN

What?

MAN

She'd said on several occasions that she didn't think she would make a good mother --

WOMAN

I was nervous. Scared. What new mother isn't?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Shush!

MAN

And, well, when we first discussed starting a family, I found out a few months later that she was still on the pill.

WOMAN

That was years ago. I wasn't ready then. I am now.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Laura, please.

JUDGE

Mrs. Sturgeon, I'm warning you.

PROSECUTOR

So are you saying, Mr. Sturgeon, that you believe your wife's feelings toward motherhood directly affected her inability to successfully carry to term?

WOMAN

Don't put words in his mouth.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Objection, Your Honor.

JUDGE

Mr. Richmen.

PROSECUTOR

That the very negative and hateful thoughts she harbored toward motherhood produced that hostile environment...

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Objection!

JUDGE

Order... Order...

PROSECUTOR

That due to her own selfish desires, and unnatural and immoral thoughts...

JUDGE

Order...

PROSECUTOR

...she purposely and willfully killed each and every one of YOUR unborn children?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Your Honor --

JUDGE

Mr. Richmen.

MAN

Yes! Yes! YES!

Collective gasp. Silence. Beat.

WOMAN

Oh. My. God.

JUDGE

Mrs. Sturgeon.

WOMAN

It was you. It was you all along, wasn't it?

JUDGE

Mrs. Sturgeon!

WOMAN

You son of a bitch. You god damn son of a --

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Laura don't!

She lunges for her husband. Court Officers hold her back.

MAN

You killed my son. My heir. My namesake. My very flesh and blood.

WOMAN

Thank God I never had your children. You no good, lousy prick. My uterus isn't the problem. It's your rotten seed. Thank God it didn't stick!

Man rushes off stage.

PROSECUTOR

I request we immediately move to sentencing.

JUDGE

Order! Order! Order! ORDER!

PROSECUTOR

Your Honor, Ms. Sturgeon would have us believe she is a the poor, defenseless victim, but I submit to you that the true colors of her nature -- those of a ruthless, cold-blooded murderer -- are just now beginning to show.

JUDGE

Mr. Richmen, stop trying to do my job!

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

May I respectfully ask what the court intends to do?

JUDGE

I'm afraid, counsel, there's nothing I can do. My hands are tied. While I'm not entirely satisfied with Mr. Richmen's case, Mrs. Sturgeon did provide enough rope with which to hang herself. Under the law, there's only one thing I can do.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

You mean --

JUDGE

Yes.
(to officers of the court)
Take her out back and throw her in the river.

WOMAN

What?!

JUDGE

If she floats, we know she's lying. If she sinks, she's been telling the truth.

WOMAN

You can't be serious. I can't swim.

JUDGE

Don't worry, Mrs. Sturgeon. We're not that barbaric. There'll be paramedics on hand to revive you should you drown.
(hits gravel)
Case closed. Thank you all. Good day.

Judge exits.

WOMAN
(to her lawyer)

You're not going to let them do this to me, are you?

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Don't look at me. I told you to go for the plea bargain.

The woman is dragged away, protesting.

PROSECUTOR

Another very valiant effort, as always.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

I'll get you one of these days.

As they gather their things

PROSECUTOR

I look forward to it. Hey, want to grab some lunch? My treat.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Sure. Where?

PROSECUTOR

How about that new place on the corner? They have a poached salmon salad to die for.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY

You're on.

Lights fade as they exit.

END OF SCENE.





November 2003
Representation: Robert A. Freedman Dramatic Agency, Inc.
1501 Broadway, ste 2310, New York, NY 10036 212-840-5760








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