Abortion Sterilization Decision Overturned In Massachusetts

Lest anybody think eugenics a completely dead issue, a Massachusetts appeals court just overturned a Judges abortion and sterilization order for a woman 5 months pregnant and labeled schizophrenic. The story was reported in The Boston Globe under the headlines Court strikes decision for mentally ill woman’s abortion.

Unbidden, the judge further directed that the 32-year-old woman be sterilized “to avoid this painful situation from recurring in the future.’’

The appeals court judge struck down this decision in what The Globe described as “unusually harsh terms.”

The personal decision whether to bear or beget a child is a right so fundamental that it must be extended to all persons, including those who are incompetent,’’ the opinion stated, citing a 1982 ruling by the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

The woman, judged ‘incompetent’, had had a child previously, and she had undergone an abortion as well.  She said she was very Catholic, and she would not consent to such a procedure.

Regarding the frequency of such court orders…

“My guess is it happens a lot more than we know,’’ he [Daniel Pollack, professor, Yeshiva University] said.

The records from this case have been sealed.

Thankfully the Appellate Court recognised, in this instance, when a Judge’s ruling had been way out of bounds.

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8 Responses

  1. But look at why: If she had been competent, she would have decided against an abortion because she is a Catholic. That has nothing to do with her autonomy as a human being. Had she not been a Catholic, one might presume, the forced abortion and sterilisation would have gone ahead.

    • I don’t think so. Catholicism is as a good reason as any. This is not about religion. This is really about who makes the decision, the state via a judge, or the woman with the fetus in her womb. Her family wanted her to have an abortion. Okay. Even with them taking care of her other child while she is in the hospital I don’t think that should be their decision to make. Would her family have gone so far as to recommend forcibly sterilization for this woman? I certainly hope not.

      ‘Incompetence’ is a relative matter. It is also a court ruling. Should such a ruling strip a person of that person’s citizenship rights? You tell me.

  2. “‘Incompetence’ is a relative matter. It is also a court ruling. Should such a ruling strip a person of that person’s citizenship rights? You tell me”mindfreedomvirginia wrote.
    I read online that the woman in question does not believe she is pregnant. She is not getting the necessary health checkups to make a healthy a child as possible. To me that means abortion might be a valid argument. Imagine a child with spina bifida is a result. “The incidence of spina bifida can be decreased by up to 70% when daily folic acid supplements are taken prior to conception.”

    Sterilization by the state is criminal and the same eugenics game the Nazis played. Everyone knows mental illness is not in the DNA. It would have been detected by now.
    Even a criminal would-could not be sterilized by force.
    As a criminal might turn around their life , a “mentally ill” person can turn around their life.

    • The judge at the earlier trial seemed to think that if she were competent, she would choose to have an abortion so she could be “medicated”, “medication” having the potential to harm her fetus. I disagree.

      One sentence…

      Legal specialists said courts must base such decisions on what they believe the woman would decide if she were competent.

      This is about a woman’s right to make her own decisions. I’ve known enough parents that would impose an unwanted abortion on an errant child. I think that that is the case here, and I support this woman’s right to make her own decisions instead.

      As you say, “a “mentally ill” person can turn around their life.”

  3. MFV, a person’s citizenship rights are fragile wee things that rely on a little too much pixie dust. They are eroded by the merest suspicion of mental illness and anyone who has ever been swallowed up by either the legal system or the medical system can attest to their fragility.

    markps2, when you say:

    “She is not getting the necessary health checkups to make a healthy a child as possible. To me that means abortion might be a valid argument.”

    You mean forced abortion.

    You continue with this argument thus:

    “Imagine a child with spina bifida is a result. “The incidence of spina bifida can be decreased by up to 70% when daily folic acid supplements are taken prior to conception.””

    Prior to conception. That not only takes some planning, it presupposes that all mentally healthy women would take folic acid anyway, even if they had access to it.
    With the amount of forced abortions that you would advocate, the human race would be stamped out in no time.

    I do not quite follow how you can support forced abortion but be against forced sterilization. Why not go the whole hog?

    The study of genetics is still in its relative infancy so I think it is a little premature to state that “Everyone knows mental illness is not in the DNA. It would have been detected by now.”
    The scientists at the forefront of the pertinent research claim they are finding genetic predispositions towards mental illness just as they are finding genetic predispositions towards other illnesses. These things we question, yes MFV.

    Saying that “a “mentally ill” person can turn around their life” in the same manner that “a criminal might” sails too close to the notion that being mentally ill and being a criminal are barely indistinguishable.

    MFV, from the case you cite:

    ““It’s a case that stands out for protecting the rights of the mentally ill,’’ said Frank Smith, chairman of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Individual Rights & Responsibilities Section. “The record seems clear that she did not want to have an abortion.’’..

    The woman, identified in court records by the pseudonym Mary Moe, described herself to court officials as “very Catholic,’’ and said she would never have an abortion. When asked about an abortion at a December hearing, she replied that she “wouldn’t do that.’’..

    ..a court-appointed specialist had determined that the woman would “decide against an abortion if she were competent.’’..

    Legal specialists said courts must base such decisions on what they believe the woman would decide if she were competent…

    “The judge is not supposed to determine what is in the person’s best interests or in her child’s,’’ said Frank Laski, executive director of the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee in Boston. “The judge has to determine what she would do if she were competent.’’”

    The point I make re. Catholicism and, indeed, the fact that this particular woman’s wishes were recorded, is that without these factors it is possible that forced abortion may have gone ahead. If the woman had talked about having an abortion prior to being pregnant with this child or had termed herself an atheist, there is no telling that her rights would have been respected if she then decided to keep the child once she became pregnant. It is not uncommon for women who think they do not want children to feel completely differently about it once they are pregnant.

    We cannot say that, based upon the remarks made during and about the case, the court would not have found that, had she been competent, she would have wanted an abortion. Her change of mind might have then been considered delusional if it happened during a time when she was considered incompetent and forced abortion may have gone ahead. Indeed, I doubt that had she previously been an atheist pro-abortionist that the case would ever have got far enough for us to hear about.

    I find this case to be more about the views of religionist anti-abortionists than I find it to be about the rights of the woman concerned or the rights of the mentally ill in general not to be tampered with.

    On forced abortion:

    “FRONT ROYAL, Virginia, March 9, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com/pop.org) – The Population Research Institute has revealed that coerced abortion is a reality in America. A court ruled that a woman can be forced to submit to an abortion, if, in the opinion of the abortionist, the measure is necessary to “protect the health of the mother.” The Jane Roe II vs. Aware Women Center for Choice, Inc. ruling was handed down in January. The case arose when a young woman who entered an abortion clinic for an abortion changed her mind. The abortionist, William P. Egherman, who has committed over 10,000 abortions, instead of stopping the procedure, called in assistants to hold her down while he continued to dilate her cervix.

    “My God, you’re hurting me” the woman screamed. “You’re killing me, I’ll never be able to have babies… Stop!” Despite her pleas, Egherman went in with a forceps, an instrument in court he referred to as “the bear” and began prodding and pulling, and accidentally tore out a piece of her intestines. He advised the ambulance to go slow, without lights or siren, so as not to distress his other clients who were waiting for abortions. The hospital repaired the damage and removed the remains of a dead child. The woman and her lawyer, former judge, Chris Sapp filed suit in the federal courts, arguing that the abortionist had violated the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). FACE was passed to guarantee the right of women to receive reproductive health care. But if a woman had a right to enter a clinic to get an abortion, Sapp argued, she also has a right to leave a clinic in order to protect herself and her baby. The suit was lost, but an appeal is planned—to the US Supreme Court if necessary. According to Sapp, “This ruling does establish a precedent for forced abortion.” An expectant mother receiving a routine gynecological exam, for example, could be held down and forcibly aborted. The abortionist would merely have to argue that the abortion was necessary to protect the mother’s health or life, and this would not be a violation of the FACE Act.”

    It is disquieting to say the least that this barbaric practice is supported by the law when this doctor and his assistants ought to be prosecuted for assault and murder. I would be interested to know the result of the appeal.

    From the same article:

    “PRI recently learned of another forced abortion in America. A 25-year-old Maryland woman, four months pregnant, changed her mind about having an abortion after being taken to the procedure room. She ran back to the clinic entrance where her boyfriend stopped her. “You have to get an abortion”, he told her. “I’ve already paid for it”. Three clinic workers and the abortionists surrounded the woman, sedated her by injection, and then took her back into the procedure room. After the forced abortion, she awoke in a closet.”

    These women did not even have to be mentally ill to lose their citizenship rights.

    • regarding “I do not quite follow how you can support forced abortion ”
      If I was a woman and pregnant, then also so delusional not to know reality, I knowing reality would not want to bring a child into the world that would suffer for its entire life, so I would want an abortion. So I say the ability to debate the issue is valid.

      • I say the woman’s decision is what’s most important here as she’s the one who is expected to bear and raise the child. If she wants to have a baby, the child can’t said to be unwanted, and that’s a complaint made about a lot of children. The court was making it’s decision based on what they thought the woman would choose if she was competent. I think it was a good decision. I would think it a bad decision if they had decided against this woman’s freedom of choice. I value choice. I’m thinking about how a negative decision, in this instance, would have had tendency of rendering the US Constitution, with it’s bill of rights, little more than trash paper. It must be remembered that laws exist to protect the people, all the people.

        The fact that this lady is experiencing the travails she is, in the present moment, doesn’t mean that we should be ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’. We all suffer, but I, for my part, choose to plug on with my life. I have faith that baby would choose to do the same if given that option.

  4. Indeed.

    markps2, you quote me selectively. I said, “I do not quite follow how you can support forced abortion but be against forced sterilization. Why not go the whole hog?” They both violate and both should be considered criminal.

    We cannot begin to imagine the horror described by the women in the cases I cite. They were not mental health patients but I think they will be mentally scarred by what happened to them and to their unborn children.

    One cannot determine what the life of the child in the original case in question will be like. We do know, however, that it is wanted by its mother. It also has a father who is equally responsible for it; as is the case for the child of any supposedly mentally ill woman who might be a candidate for this kind of barbaric treatment. It has a sibling and grandparents too. And let us not forget that this child will be raised under the watchful eye of the authorities.

    A lot of children are not wanted and many are born to parents who abuse them without consequence. Neither will be the case for this little one so it could be argued that it will have a better start in life compared with millions.

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