Nat caught the eye of the policeman as she hurried toward the door in her dressing gown, and he quickly turned away, embarrassed. Shouldn’t he be more focussed on the potentially devastating news he was about to give her? She finally reached the door and in her usual flustered style, launched straight in with multiple questions: “Is he OK?… Or is it someone else?… Oh my gosh, is it Mum? Dad?” The policeman frowned, ignoring her questions he started to speak “Ms. Wright, I’m here to talk to you about a private matter. Can we go somewhere to talk?” His tone had thrown Nat, it certainly wasn’t about an accident. She tried to slow her breathing and think, impatience was preventing her from getting them somewhere they could talk about what was obviously a sensitive matter.
She ushered her flatmate into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and gestured over at the couches in the lounge. The walls were paper thin, the whole flat would know what was going on anyway. The policeman took his seat and presented the papers he’d been holding by his side. The bold text emblazoned on the top of the page caught Nat’s eye. It read “COURT SUMMONS”. As Nat took the papers, the policeman began his explanation, “We have been led to believe that you underwent a… procedure… at the women’s clinic at Wellington hospital on February 15th.” He paused and waited for Nat’s nod, “The operating doctor has been arrested and charged with procuring an abortion under section 183(b) of the Crimes Act 1961. We need you to appear as a witness for this case.” Nat carefully took the papers and stared down at them, unable to comprehend what was happening. As far as she was concerned, that was all over two months ago. She’d been in for the procedure, gone through the laborious process of seeing a blur of health professionals all asking the same questions, and had finally got into the operating theatre and had the procedure done. Cameron had been there to support her as much as he could, but he didn’t understand what she was going through. She just knew that she couldn’t afford another child and didn’t want to be a single mother of two children, as that’s inevitably what would have happened.
The operating doctor had happened to be her daughter’s GP and she remembered being glad that there was a familiar face in there. But that was who the policeman was talking about now. Arrested? Dr. Rutherford? For procuring an abortion?
The policeman seemed to follow Nat’s thought process via her facial expressions and he stated smugly “The details are all in the papers there.” He stood up and headed toward the door, leaving Nat on the couch with the summons. He turned before walking out, offering a parting comment, “Unless you were in danger of being declared clinically insane, she shouldn’t have performed the operation. It’s fourteen years imprisonment, you know.“