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Shock Over Massachusetts Forced Abortion Order A Positive Sign

Earlier this month, a 32-year-old pregnant woman, known only as Mary Moe, narrowly avoided being subjected to a forced abortion and sterilization–at the hands of her own parents.

The story has outraged thousands on either side of the political aisle. Moe, who suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar mood disorder, was being treated in a Massachusetts hospital. When she became pregnant, doctors were purportedly concerned that her medications could harm the unborn child. So they recommended an abortion.

The problem is, Moe is a Catholic, who has expressed vocal opposition to abortion.

Since Moe planned to keep her baby, her parents, in conjunction with the doctors, filed a petition with the local courts, which would give them the power to force her to get an abortion.

Incredibly, Massachusetts justice Christina Harms not only granted the petition, she went a step further. She told Moe’s parents that it didn’t matter how they got Moe to have the abortion, even if it meant she had to be “coaxed, bribed, or even enticed … by ruse.” Not only this, but she directed that whatever medical facility performed the abortion go ahead and sterilize Moe … without her permission. According to recently released court documents, Harms simply asserted that “if Moe were competent, she ‘would not choose to be delusional,’ and therefore would opt for an abortion in order to benefit from medication that otherwise could not be administered due to its effect on the fetus.”

In other words, Justice Harms didn’t just assume that she knew what Moe was thinking. She assumed that she knew what Moe would be thinking if she wasn’t subject to a mental dysfunction. And on that basis, she was willing to not only mandate the killing of Moe’s unborn child, but the destruction of Moe’s reproductive system.

Fortunately for Moe (and her baby), the decision caused an uproar and was overturned by the state appeals court. Appellate Justice Andrew Grainger openly questioned Harm’s reasoning pointing out that “no party requested this measure, none of the attendant procedural requirements has been met, and the judge appears to have simply produced the requirement out of thin air.”

Interested parties across the state also chimed in on the situation, including Democratic state senator Susan Fargo, who told the Boston Herald that, “it bothers me as a woman, that a woman can’t make a decision about her body.” Advocates for the mentally ill also went on the record, including Elyn Saks of USC, who said that “simply having a diagnosis of schizophrenia or any other mental illness is not a basis for sterilization in and of itself. It’s just sheer prejudice.” Saks has a special interest in this case: she lives with schizophrenia herself.

The most positive side to this story may, in fact, be the extent of the controversy it has garnered. There was a time in this country, not very long ago, when mandating that a mentally ill woman be subjected to an involuntary abortion/sterilization would scarcely have raised an eyebrow. After all, our own Margaret Sanger was one of the world’s original eugenicists, recommending forced sterilizations for the improvement of the human species, in order to “cut down production of its least desirable members.” Forced sterilization was regularly practiced on racial minorities and those considered mentally unfit until embarrassingly recently (the last known forced sterilization in the United States took place in 1981).

We have made such leaps and bounds in this country when it comes to overall racial attitudes as well as attitudes towards those with disabilities. But cases like this one should serve as a warning: not all of the old bigotry and fear are gone. We must remain vigilant until these abhorrent practices are firmly and irrevocably buried in the past.


Colin Mason is the Director for Media Production atPopulation Research Institute.


  • Tarheel

    I’ve got to do a better job of picking what to read in the morning while I drink my coffee.

    After reading this my coffee tastes bad and I feel sick.

    Forced abortion. Forced sterilization. What’s next, forcing me to pay for health care that requires contraception?

    Oh crap that is happening too.

    I need a beer

  • http://www.casorosendi.com/ Carlos Caso-Rosendi

    So let me see if I understand the current American Legal System: I can’t force abstinence until marriage on my child AND I don’t have the right to know if she seeks an abortion… however I if she wants to have the baby the State will assist me to violate her choice as long as I want to kill the baby.

    So it seems like the “legal principle” is “we are for death no matter which side is proposing it.”

    This is going to end in a very UGLY way.

    The MIGHTY US GOVERNMENT IS AFRAID OF BABIES AND WANTS TO KILL THEM ALL.

    • Mary Kochan

      Yes, the mighty US government is afraid of babies, because America’s ultimate judge came to earth as a baby.

  • Tarheel

    Retirement in a foreign country anyone?

  • http://www.casorosendi.com/ Carlos Caso-Rosendi

    Tarheel: I have been thinking of that but then I also think that this is collapsing, this is the end of the Modern world. The man of lawlessness is finally manifested to the world. Now we have to pray that we will endure the chastisement at hand for there will be a lot to do after the fall. All the king’s horsemen and all the king’s men won’t be able to put this world together again but we will have to start all over like St. Benedict did in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. No biggie, we have done it several times by now. It is our generations turn this time. Let’s prepare leaders, men and women for the Kingdom is coming.

  • Tarheel

    Carlos I like that thought. “Let’s prepare leaders, men and women for the Kingdom is coming.”

    This gives me renewed enthusiasm when I teach CDD/Sunday School tomorrow. I cannot think of a better place to prepare leaders than in CCD. ell I take that back so to speak.

    Mass. Regular attendance at Mass. Learning all the parts of the Mass and what it menas. Understanding the Eucharist is not “the end of mass”, but a celebration.

    Thanks!

    But I may still retire in the Philippines. That is where my wife is from and where the people I call family live.