By Tom Quiner
She was beautiful.
She sat quietly before the judge. Her life was on the line.
I had never seen this woman before in my life. I sized up her face and saw much. She had kind eyes, eyes that looked into yours and acknowledged your existence. No, her eyes did even more than that, they acknowledged your worth.
You can tell a lot about a person from their eyes, can’t you? This woman, whoever she was, obviously was a person of compassion. I can’t know for sure, but I suspect she was a person with integrity.
I suppose these two values go together. If someone cares about the plight of others, they are probably a virtuous person in other things.
This is what I discerned in observing the woman for a minute.
Two others, a man and a woman, sat at a plain wooden table in front of the judge. I gathered they were the woman’s accusers.
They looked like decent people, too.
“I wouldn’t mind going out for a beer with any of these folks,”
… I thought to myself.
I wondered what the accused did to these two people.
I leaned over to my friend sitting next to me and whispered,
“what is she accused of?”
“Nothing,”said my friend.
“So what’s going on? What kind of hearing is this anyway?”
“It’s a hearing to determine if the woman before the judge lives or dies.”
I was confused.
As I tried to figure out what was going on, the accused (or the non-accused), spoke:
“May I say something, your honor?”
And the judge nodded his assent.
“I am thankful for my life. I have so much to live for. I have hopes. I have dreams. I want to fall in love someday and get married. I want to be a mother and to raise a family. I have so much love inside of me, I can’t contain it. I humbly believe that I can make the world a better place if only you’ll give me a chance.”
The judge was clearly moved.
“It’s not up to me, young lady. It’s up to her” …
… he said pointing to the woman sitting behind the wooden table.
The non-accused pleaded with the woman:
“Mother, please, my life is in your hands.”
Turning to the man, she said:
“Father, talk to her. Please make her change her mind.”
What is going on here, I wondered? The accused looked to be about 33 years old. The accusers looked to be about the same age.
Looking closer, I was startled by the resemblance between the accused and the other two.
The man spoke:
“This is an inconvenient time in our life to have to, well, deal with you. Your mother and I aren’t married. We don’t even know if we’re in love. We have school to deal with. And, uh, well, I’m going to do the honorable thing and pay for everything.”
“Will it hurt?’
What is going on here, I screamed to myself! I turned to my friend and said,
“We’ve got to do something. In the name of God, we have to put a stop to this.”
My friend looked me in the eyes and said:
“While I would never do this thing myself, I don’t believe we can impose our religion or our values on anyone else.”
“Will it hurt?”
… she asked again, this time looking at the judge.
In a matter of fact way, the judge spelled it out:
“There are several options on how to handle this thing, and ultimately, it’s up to your mother and her physician. With one approach, you will be starved to death and your body flushed down a sewer. Another approach is to pierce the base of your skull with blunt-tipped surgical scissors and extract your brains using a suction catheter. Or yet another approach simply dismembers your body and sucks your remains into a garbage pail.”
“Will it hurt?”the woman demanded to know.
With sad eyes, the judge quietly responded:
“I will let the description I just gave you speak for itself.”
Looking at the mother and father, the judge said,
“Have you decided?”
“We have, your honor,”said the mother.
“We’ve decided to proceed.”
The judge looked at the non-accused and asked:
“Do you have any final words?”
With blazing eyes, the lovely woman simply said:
“I want you to know that I love you, Mother. I love you, Father. I truly do.”
With that, the judge pounded his gavel and said, “Bailiff, take her away.”
As they led her out, the judge told the father,
“Pay the clerk of the court $450 for the procedure.”
The woman was immediately put to death.
“I personally would never have done that,” my friend reminded me.