The day before, she’d had her final surgical consult. The doctor had not been present, only the nurse practitioner. It had become so common now that the doctors no longer came for the final meeting before the procedure. In fact, she was told that there was every likelihood she would see only the anesthesiologist and be out cold before the surgeon even entered the room.
“You have no worries,” the nurse practitioner said warmly, passing the last pink triplicate form over for Becca to sign. Becca looked at it for a moment before the woman hastened her on, “Just a formality. Consent and all.”
“But I don’t consent to this,” said Becca, looking up at the woman, whose starched white coat gave the impression that she was a doctor. “I was told I had to.”
“No, that’s right,” the woman said, nodding and then looking down at another sheet of paper. “What you’re signing there is a consent for payment coverage. This means you won’t have to pay for the procedure.”
“Do I have a choice?”
“Well, you can pay for the procedure out of pocket, but I don’t think you want to do that when the system will pay for it.”
“No, I meant, do I have to go through with this?”
“Well, by law you have to. And really, thinking in compassionate terms, I don’t see why you wouldn’t. The child will never be able to live a normal life. And, frankly, Ms. Mehl, you can’t delay much longer without the procedure being inhumane. You’re at 22 weeks. Quite honestly, you should have seen a doctor sooner. As I said, by law, this has to be done when test results come back positive, like yours have. So, if you’ll sign the papers, we’ll get this finished up.”