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Penetration: A contemporary Western

In which the lawmen of the West try to enforce the frontier of the unborn, 'counselling' women against abortion and protecting the personal moral codes of health professionals

Jim Gabour
25 March 2012

FADE IN.

CLINIC WAITING ROOM IN SUBURB OF SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- DAY

A YOUNG WOMAN waits nervously in a plastic chair.  The room is furnished in stark modern furniture covered in cheerful flower-patterned fabric.  The walls are crowded with large photographic blow-ups of the faces of young babies smiling and drooling, placed next to similarly sized and colored photos of fetuses. 

Barry Manilow croons “Can’t Smile without You” loudly on muzak piped through multiple speakers in  the waiting area ceiling.   A vase filled with plastic flowers and clear marbles rattles on a glass coffee table, vibrating with the persistent volume of the music.

Behind a glass partition on one side of the room, a stern-faced middle-aged RECEPTIONIST in a starched white uniform bustles at her desk. She suddenly presses an intercom button and interrupts the music with a crackle and a squeal.  Her voice comes loudly from the ceiling speakers.

RECEPTIONIST

Your local legislator will be with you shortly, Miss.

YOUNG WOMAN

A “legislator”? I don’t need a legislator. I made an appointment to see a doctor.

RECEPTIONIST

(brusquely)

All the same for women such as yourself here in Utah, Miss. And Kansas. And Texas. In this state lawmakers like to think of themselves as “health professionals”, and as such can function as the initial legal screening entity to protect our doctors from having to perform actions which may be against their personal moral codes. Yes, indeedy.

(smiling through the glass)

They are also now legally bound to keep you waiting for three full days before allowing you access to a doctor and any “abortive procedure”. Hopefully soon we will have the opportunity to also require you to look at the life you intend to end before you can do it. After all, like Gov. Perry said down in Texas, it’s your “Right to Know”, and we’ll make you know it for damn sure. Whatever it is.

Our Christian brothers and sisters in South Dakota, they’ve got the best laws of all – they can make you go to a counseling center where we get to try and talk you out of the sin you are about to commit.

Shame is our game, and we’re proud of it. Christian is as Christian does.

A buzz is heard offstage.

RECEPTIONIST (CONT’D)

Oh, my word, here comes your assigned lawmaker. Nowadays we call him “The Vaginal Sheriff”. Ain’t he something else?

YOUNG WOMAN

“Vaginal Sheriff”? What the hell are you saying, Nurse?

There is a loud noise, sounding like a massive steam release.

The young woman begins to sniff the air and wrinkle her nose, as if a strong odor is present.

A door swings open next to the nurse’s station and bangs against the wall, accompanied by a gust of sulfur vapor, tinted yellow.

From the opaque cloud dramatically swaggers a BULKY MALE, well over six feet tall. He is dressed completely in immaculate white Mormon underwear which severely binds his loins. On his chest is a large gold badge adorned with the Utah State Crest, and on his hip swing a variety of daunting stainless steel implements. The Vaginal Sheriff wears a surgical mask which billows outward as he speaks.

The man stops directly in front of the young woman, and slowly lowers his gaze to confront her stare.

VAGINAL SHERIFF

Yes, ma’am, ah’m him.

Ah am the duly elected Man Who Knows Whut’s Right in these here parts and ahm legally assigned here to tell you jus’ whut you kin do with that thing you got down there.

YOUNG WOMAN

(obviously taken aback)

That thing I’ve got down there?

THE VAGINAL SHERIFF

Yes, ma’am, that Thing Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken.

YOUNG WOMAN

I don’t want to talk to you, whoever you say you are. I came here for a medical procedure, not to hear some laughable oaf in pajamas tell me what to do.

THE VAGINAL SHERIFF

Young lady, I proudly wear this uniform as protection against Those of your foreigner ideology. None other than General Authority Carlos E. Asay has affirmed that this garment "strengthens the wearer to resist temptation, fend off evil influences, and stand firmly for the right."

The young woman has begun rolling her eyes, looking for the exit, and clutching her purse,

THE VAGINAL SHERIFF (CONT’D)

Yasma’am, I am indeed the righteous instrument of the Lord. And you, you, ma’am are an improperly impregnated sinner and soon-to-be murderer.

I must forthwith tell you the non-reproductive position of the Lord, as physically incorporated into legal scripture by the Serene Legislature of the Great State of Utah. And I would advise you not to jiggle about so unhealthily, as we are most certainly obligated under law to imprison you if you cause a miscarriage of that unborn child.

YOUNG WOMAN

But abortion is LEGAL here!

THE VAGINAL SHERIFF

Only in a manner of speaking, ma’am. We got to keep up the front. We got to keep that White House atheist from takin’ away our god-given federal money like they been tryin’ elsewhere.

Meanwhile we got to ed-jucate you about your choices.

YOUNG WOMAN

I am studying for a PhD in biochemistry. I think I know exactly what I am doing.

VAGINAL SHERIFF

Not in the eyes of the Lord, ma’am.

YOUNG WOMAN

Your Lord means nothing to me. Can’t you understand: (adamantly) I am not a Mormon.

VAGINAL SHERIFF

Make no difference, ma’am. You’re in God’s own Mormon Territory. Why our own native son Mitt Romney once courted your sort, and now that he has found his way to run for President he has renounced the ways of Satan, and stands firmly with us. Nobody, but nobody, has the right to Plan Parenthood.

The young woman stands and starts to make her way to the door with her back against the wall.

YOUNG WOMAN

Well, I am planning mine. And if I can’t do it in Utah, I’ll raise the money to go somewhere else.

VAGINAL SHERIFF

There are godless everywhere, ma’am, but you should let me counsel you.

YOUNG WOMAN

You are not a counselor. You are not a doctor! You are a politician! I am headed to Nevada.

VAGINAL SHERIFF

Plenty more of your sort there. And what happens in Vegas…

YOUNG WOMAN

Sure... stays in Vegas. That is exactly what I wanted when I came here!

She storms out, slamming the door behind her.

VAGINAL SHERIFF

Nasty, but still – count it as one more victory for the American Way.

(coming out of theological trance)

I got any more a’ these medical appointments this morning, Alice?

Muzak rises as another cloud of vapor wafts into the room.

FADE TO BLACK.

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