A work in progress. Still drafting the story, even though I am about six months behind in writing. The best part is that this delay has allowed me to rethink the story I am trying to tell, and build more rounded characters.
In mid-January, I drafted two scenes to show faith intersecting science and politics. This is an important theme in the story because the politics are influenced by a religious doctrine. Blending them will be interesting, because I do not plan to make anything obvious. In this untitled scene, the science is explained in a conversation between two government officials.
“That was their colossal cock up,” shouted the health minister. The minister was not inside his study, so Sebastian was talking to an empty desk this afternoon. The health minister was speaking from a different room, and he was shouting even though his voice was transmitted over voice activated smart mics in his home.
“Sir,” replied Sebastian, “Treasury does not have jurisdiction over private medical cases.”
“You can revoke their funding,” was the minister’s surly response.
“True, but taking away funding from medical research into fertility treatment would be tantamount to a human rights violation,” said a smirking Sebastian. He was rather pleased with himself. “And may I remind you that overseas investors are plugging large amounts of cash into the research and development?”
“Money, money, money,” said the health minister. “She is suing me for lack of oversight. Me, personally. The research shows that uterine cells never generate fetal tissues even when exposed to a massive cocktail of hormones.”
“It was an act of God,” said Sebastian. He was laughing silently because he knew the statement would annoy his colleague. He stopped laughing and raised an eyebrow because he wondered if the health minister could see his face on a monitor somewhere.
“An outdated notion,” was the swift correction from the health minister’s voice.
Sebastian rolled his eyes, slightly relieved that his mocking behaviour had not been noticed.
He said, “She is with the Congregation, so those notions are alive and well. And support, across the world, has been universally positive. Also, remember that this is a giant leap forward for fertility research. The value of stock portfolios of biotech investors have skyrocketed. Absolutely everyone loves her.”
“Fine,” replied the health minister. “She is raising her daughter, and enjoying sainthood, but why is she suing me … and the government for the near fatal heart attack she suffered minutes after giving birth? I feel sorry that she had to go through that, but the same technology reprinted her blood vessels that were damaged. She is alive because of us and is suing us? Yet, everyone believes her actions are justified. Especially after that fiction!”
“Creative non-fiction, sir,” corrected Sebastian. He glanced over on his screen to review the article published in the National Gazette, in which the woman recounted the experience of giving birth to a girl less than a year after male-to-female gender reassignment surgery. Bloating, swelling and discomfort were normal after these procedures. She and her doctors did not know she was pregnant and there were no sperm or egg donors. Her doctors guessed that because of the hormone protocol she received, some of the cells in her ovaries had changed to reproductive cells. After exhaustive tests, they concluded that the most likely explanation was that one of the cells moved to her uterus and started dividing spontaneously. The hormone protocol facilitated the pregnancy, and the fetus was delivered at the six month mark.
Sebastian looked at the highlighted text of an email which was opened in another window on his screen. His cousin, Gala of Vale, was the first person he contacted when the health minister asked him for a meeting. She had replied to him with a voice message. Reading the transcription, he saw that it had everything he needed.
“Technically,” Sebsastian continued, “she cloned herself but this not a flaw in the medicine. She is reproducing, which is, biologically, what her body is supposed to do. Ask your team to focus on that argument and petition the tribunal to force a settlement on those grounds. But while you do that, tread softly. Her story is about family, faith, and the belief in miracles. Something that is lost in our world. People like hoping for things. We shouldn’t try to take it away from them.”
“All right,” replied the health minister with a sigh. “And what can I do?”
“Hire her as a special health advocate,” answered Sebastian.
“Even though she’s suing me,” retorted the health minister.
“Yes. Exactly,” replied Sebastian. He glanced over at the rest of the notes from his cousin. “And for the settlement negotiations, you personally offer money and resources only if she agrees to set up a foundation. Ask the Congregation to join the negotiations as an appropriate third party. As health minister, you will appoint an advisory board to represent the Congregation and the biotech industry. Instead of fighting her at a tribunal, we should help her to build a platform and set an agenda for the next three decades.”
“All right, Sebs. I am going to get legal on the phone, and I want another meeting with all of you before dinnertime today.”
“Yes, minister. We will see each other then.”