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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Advancement of Mateo Matic: April 25, 2398

The team enjoys a fairly silent breakfast together. Leona and Ramses are about to leave for their jobs. The former will be back in five or six hours, but the latter has a full eight-hour shift. Mateo and Angela were planning to stick around for the next few hours until the library opens, but they’re starting to get the feeling that they ought to find something else to do in the meantime. “I would like to see that memorial,” Mateo announces.
“Is that safe?” Leona asks.
“As long as you don’t go snooping around the parking lot,” Heath says, “it will be fine. You are not a known associate of ours.”
“We’ll stay up on that hill,” Angela promises.
“You can borrow my car,” Heath offers.
“We’ll just walk,” Angela insists.
The four of them depart at the same time, leaving the homeowners alone once more. They continue the silence for a little more. “As far as I know, nobody watched the parking lot footage from yesterday,” Heath says.
Marie throws her napkin on the table, and stands up. “No one’s going to show up in the parking lot, Heath. That was a stupid idea.”
“Well, forgive me for trying to get you answers.”
“I’ll consider it.”
“Me being arrested has nothing to do with our current issue,” Heath argues.
“Doesn’t it?”
“No. You were already pregnant.”
“It’s not just the pregnancy, Heath! It’s everything!”
“You promised you wouldn’t yell anymore!”
“Hypocrite!”
“Hypocrite!” he echoes.
They both try really hard not to giggle at this ridiculous exchange, but they lose that war. Marie calms herself back down into a somber demeanor. “I need this, and I need you to support me. I’ve been thinking about my options, and I know you hate it, but I can’t bring a mixed-race baby into this world. If we somehow knew there was a way out, it might be a decent choice, but probably not then either. My life isn’t—even now—equipped to handle the responsibility. The baby would have to be like me, or I would have to become like it. This world suppresses my pattern, but it did not erase it. We have no idea what’s making it happen, but even if it’s built into the fabric of reality, that could always change, because I am not inherently bound to one reality. Most people take their physical laws for granted, but it doesn’t work like that for me. There are no constants, and children need constants.”
He doesn’t breathe in until she finishes. “I understand that. Now,” he adds. “I understand it now. I didn’t understand it before. I do support you, but that doesn’t change the fact that abortion is almost impossible to accomplish here. We never had the...what did you call it?”
“Roe v. Wade?” Marie assumes.
“Yeah, we didn’t do that. If there’s one thing the religions can agree on, it’s that you can’t kill human life. You can kill cows, and you can kill prisoners, because a sufficiently heinous crime legally strips the perpetrator of their humanity. You can even euthanize someone with their consent, but you can’t get consent from a fetus. Nowhere in this country could you be sure the procedure will be both safe, and not a trap. And if you get caught, you’re no longer human, like I was just saying.”
“What if we went to a different country?” Marie suggests.
Heath shakes his head. “It’s not technically illegal to have an abortion in the U.S. I mean that literally, the act is not against the law. If a medical professional is discovered to have done it, they won’t even get a slap on the wrist. That’s why it’s so dangerous to try, because they don’t have any real incentive to keep it a secret, so you have to rely on their altruism, which is difficult to test.”
“How is it both illegal and legal?” she questions.
“It’s illegal to have had an abortion. It doesn’t matter if you do it here, or elsewhere. Immigrants and visitors can’t come into the country if they’ve had the procedure. At all. There have been times in our planet’s history where travel from countries that provided legal abortions was outright banned by countries that criminalized it. It is for this reason that most countries have ended up criminalizing it too, in order to get these bans lifted.”
“Just so I know, in which countries is it currently legal?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t know how to find out, because searching the internet for it alone could be enough to put us on a list.”
Marie sighs. There is still so much she doesn’t know about this world. When and where she grew up, it was illegal to terminate a pregnancy, but she could have crossed the border to Kansas in certain cases, or Washington or New York regardless. And then she could have gone home, but in this reality, she can’t even do that? “What can I do? Is there anything?”
Heath waits a very long time to respond. “It’s not a guarantee, but there are certain foods that you can eat that might induce a miscarriage. They normally recommend pregnant people don’t eat them for this reason, and some stores monitor certain purchases in order to track them. The rumor is that if you start eating a lot of a lot of these different foods combined, it could compound your risk of a lost pregnancy.”
“Can you help me, Heath?” Marie asks. “Could you make that sacrifice?”
“Yes, but I can’t do it alone. I can’t purchase them either. Even though I can’t get pregnant, they still flag the order combos, because they’ll assume it’s for someone like you. We’ll need the whole team for this mission.”
“Thanks.”

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