Some of you may be following a trial in Buena Vista County that we have been covering. A woman accuses a man of forcing her to miscarry a child, a man accuses a women of threatening him with harm if he told about her burying the fetus into a zip-lock bag in the backyard.
A jury decides what, if any laws have been broken; that's not our job.
Our job is to tell stories, and sometimes, there is no happy ending. The telling leaves you drained and sad, the reading, I imagine, a bit of the same.
We do not envy jurors, who must decide who to believe from conflicting testimony. There is no excuse for abuse or threats, but my purpose here isn't to rehash a trial or the details from something of an arranged marriage grinding towards an end.
We do know that the defendant and his then wife were in the local emergency room with a 16-week old child in her belly, and neither seemed particularly interested in bringing a baby into the world, according to testimony.
It strikes me that the child in such a situation is a victim too, though nothing a court can do can help it.
Far too often, children - grown, newborn or carried - can become a pawns in disintegrating relationships.
In this trial, medical professionals trooped to the stand to testify how they had repeatedly urged the couple to go to Omaha, where a specialist could take a stitch to close the woman's cervix which was not operating properly, giving the child a chance for a healthy, full-term birth.
Wanted or not, the unborn baby was hanging onto life. When the couple went to the emergency room to have the miscarriage brought to conclusion, nurses could still hear the solid heartbeat, and refused to terminate the pregnancy. They told the couple that the baby could not survive if it were passed out of her body at this time. Testimony says the couple refused the necessary medical care and left. They have that right.
The woman was said to be afraid the child might have some abnormality and would be too hard to take care of, and it was said the man had had a special needs child with a previous partner and didn't want another - according to the testimony - though medical personnel assured them there was no indication that there was anything wrong with their child.
We're told that the couple went to a doctor three days after the emergency room trip, again were urged to make the trip to Omaha, and if we can believe the translation, declined... maybe the next week they would go, if the baby was still alive. They never returned to the doctor.
"Cultural beliefs" may be cited in important decisions at times, but I don't know of any culture that doesn't treasure children and revere and celebrate birth.
Don't get me wrong here, my purpose writing this is not to attack a woman's right to choice in matters of her own body, to question anyone's religion, or as a maudlin attempt to twist a court case into some kind of effort to defund Planned Parenthood. A politician, I am not.
My suggestion is that another choice be made prominent to be considered in pregnancies where a man and a woman are not prepared or able to take responsibility as parents.
There are a lot of people who wait in line for years to adopt and love a child that they may not be able to have themselves.
Giving a child up for adoption is a choice, too. For God's sake, in this state you can simply walk into a hospital or other safe place, hand a child to someone - say here, take my baby, care for it because I can't, and leave with no repercussions. How anyone could do that is beyond my comprehension, but it is that easy. Being an orphan is a tough way to start life as a child, but they have a chance. To live, and be loved, by someone.
Before we discard a child, I wish we would consider what they might become, might experience and achieve in life, if only they have one.
As someone once said, "It's the children the world almost breaks who grow up to save it."
That child spoken of in the trial would be around 2 years old now. At this moment, someone might be reading a bedtime story to him or her, taking him or her to the playground or picking out a little coat and boots for the coming winter.
But this story ended with a hole in the backyard, and a few ugly days in a courtroom.
As of this writing, I do not know how the trial turns out, though we will not run this until a verdict is in. Our purpose is not to influence justice. A verdict or punishment has no impact on the fate of an unborn child at any rate.
But there are others with life and death decisions still to be made, and that is the purpose at hand.
Maybe we're all guilty, if we as a society have come to easily accept casual disposal of life.
I'm not an opponent of choice, not at all. Choices should be made thoughtfully, with all options weighed. Having a child can be a difficult decision in difficult circumstances, and we can only wish those weighing such matters wisdom and peace.
But let me say this one thing:
I've met a lot of people in my life, and not once have I met one who could look at their child through all the years of their growing up, and say they wish they never existed, that they wish they had decided the other way. Not once, not ever.