If Laura Roslin was surprised by the cameras of the media when she entered the hall on Cloud Nine
where the Quorum would convene, she did not show it. Instead, she smiled and waved at the reporters as she walked over to her bench. One by one the Twelve delegates to the Quorum took their own seats—and did the fourteenth man present, Vice-President Gaius Baltar.
“Ladies and gentlemen of the Quorum, I hereby declare these proceedings opens,” Laura said with a glowing smile. “I was under the impression that today’s session was closed to the media,” she said, looking at Gaius across the long horse-shoe shaped table.
Wallace Gray, elected by the survivors of Caprica to the Quorum after Baltar became Vice-President, stood up. “Madame President,” he said with little expression on his face, “we are an elected body of the people—surely we have nothing to fear from the people to which we are pledged seeing our deliberations. The Vice-President suggested that today’s session be opened to the media, and I endorsed that suggestion—as have a majority of my fellow delegates. Did you not receive our memorandum on this change? It was delivered to your office last week.” He then sat.
Laura kept the fixed smile on her face and she nodded. So this is how Wallace is going to get his revenge on me, she thought. “I think it is a lovely idea, Wallace. But no, the memo seems to have gotten misplaced on its way to my desk.”
“We have quite a full agenda before us today, so let us get started with the . . .,” Laura began, but then she trailed off as Tom Zarek, the Delegate from Sagittaron rose to his feet.
“Madame President, a point of order, if I may?”
“The agenda, as it currently stands, fails to reflect the . . . stunning news we received this past week that another Battlestar has survived the attack on the Colonies. We all realize that the agenda of the Quorum was drawn up well in advance, and it certainly needs to be addressed—but in light of the recent developments within the Fleet, I move that we table the agenda as written in order to address the . . . complications that the reunion of humanity might well bring.”
Wallace Gray stood again. “Caprica seconds that motion, Madame President.”
Laura glared at Tom and then at Gaius and finally at Wallace. But she only smiled. “Having been moved and seconded, how do the delegates say?” she asked.
And not surprisingly, the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of tabling the agenda. You orchestrated this Tom, she thought. Not Gaius
, you. And he looked directly at her, and as if he could hear her thoughts, he nodded with what could only be described as a smirk on his face.
“Madame President,” Gaius said as he stood. “With the agenda now set aside, I would request the floor.”
“The Vice-President has the floor,” she said.
“Thank you, Madame President. While it is true that we must look to the coming reunion with our lost brothers and sisters with joy and anticipation, there are other issues which we as the elected representatives of our people must address. I refer today to the executive order which President Roslin arbitrarily issued that strips our people of the rights guaranteed to them under the Articles of Colonization—specifically, her outlawing of a woman’s right to choose for themselves whether or not they bring a pregnancy to term.”
“That has been settled!” snapped the Gemenesse Delegate, Sarah Porter. “The imperative to boost our population mandates that abortion be made illegal!”
“And your religious convictions play no role whatsoever in this decision, do they, Madame Delegate?” Gaius asked. “We must address the issue of growing our population—we have forty nine thousand five hundred and seventy nine survivors in this Fleet. That will soon be increased to fifty five thousand and forty three survivors once Scorpia and the ships she is escorting arrive. That will be a joyous, wonderful day for us all. We must address the issue of bringing the next generation into this world and raising them, but we cannot do so by Presidential fiat and the curtailing of civil liberties.”
He looked around the chamber and then stared directly into the cameras of the media. “I know that President Roslin has done what she believes is the right and correct action to ensure the survival of our species, and that her inability to appoint an independent judiciary to rule on the legality of her actions does not result from a thirst from tyranny, but instead because the Fleet is too small to need such a body. Madame President, you are wrong on that—were we here today to gauge the necessity of our government based upon the numbers of the survivors, we would not have a President or a Quorum, but instead a Mayor and a City Council.”
Laura fumed on the inside, but she just smiled at Gaius. “Mister Vice-President, as you are aware, as the Quorum is aware, we have explored the possibility of creating the judicial branch anew—but such matters take time.”
“Yes, Madame President. They do take time,” Gaius answered. “And we have had time. For five months the Quorum has been reestablished,” he told the cameras, “and in all that time has the President and her advisors even once brought to the Quorum a plan for installing a civilian judiciary within this Fleet? I do not question the motives of the President in this, but relying upon military tribunals is yet another blow against civil liberties. We must have an independent Court that can rule on the legality of the actions of this Quorum and the President.”
He paused and he looked at each of the Delegates, and then the President, and then at the cameras. “And it is here, among the elected representative of the people of the Fleet, that we must, together, make the decision on whether or not we strip women of their rights in the name of procreation. That decision is ours, not the President’s alone, and despite what the Delegate from Gemenon has declared it is no settled issue!”
Sarah Porter slammed her hand down on her desk. “At a time when we need every new living person to build up our strength, you would condone the selfish act of caring only how a new baby will affect one life? We are a community—and sacrifices must be made for the good of all!”
“Does that mean that you plan on outlawing same-sex marriages next, Madame Delegate? Such unions cannot produce off-spring, after all,” Gaius said. “What about the women of child-bearing age who daily risk their lives flying Vipers in this Fleet’s defense? Should they be stripped of their duties and impregnated—even against their will—because your Sacred Scrolls demand that we go forth and multiply? Where does it end? Neither your religious beliefs, nor those of the President of the Twelve Colonies, gives either of you the right or the authority to dictate to a woman how she lives her life; whether or not she bears a child; how that child is to be raised!” Gaius thundered. And then he closed his eyes and shook his head, almost as if he were listening to a voice that only he could hear.
He nodded. “Madame Delegate,” he said directly to Sarah Porter. “You support the President in her decision to outlaw abortion in the Fleet, yes?”
“I certainly do.”
“And, while I hesitate to bring politics into this, you support the President against me because she gave you this ban—and I oppose it, yes?”
“Would you still support her if you aware that, as President, she issued an order calling for the termination of a pregnancy against the wishes of the mother carrying the child?” Gaius snapped.
Oh, you son-of-a-. . . Laura thought, and her smile faltered.
And utter chaos suddenly erupted in the Quorum chamber aboard Cloud Nine
. In front of the cameras carrying the event live
to every ship in the Fleet.