Donald Trump probably hasn’t read The Handmaid’s Tale. But his failed effort this week to use his power to restrain a young woman from having an abortion shows he’d fit right in to that novel’s dystopian patriarchy that would force a women to bear children against their will.
The Trump Administration is detaining a 17-year-old undocumented immigrant in Texas. That young woman obtained a judge’s permission to abort her pregnancy. The Trump Administration refused to let her leave the detention facility to obtain the medical treatment she sought. A federal appeals court overturned the Trump Administration’s restraints, and the young woman obtained her abortion this morning.
The American Civil Liberties Union posts this statement via the American Civil Liberties Union from the young woman in question:
My name is not Jane Doe, but I am a Jane Doe.
I’m a 17 year old girl that came to this country to make a better life for myself. My journey wasn’t easy, but I came here with hope in my heart to build a life I can be proud of. I dream about studying, becoming a nurse, and one day working with the elderly.
When I was detained, I was placed in a shelter for children. It was there that I was told I was pregnant. I knew immediately what was best for me then, as I do now – that I’m not ready to be a parent. Thanks to my lawyers, Rochelle Garza and Christine Cortez, and with the help of Jane’s Due Process, I went before a judge and was given permission to end my pregnancy without my parents’ consent. I was nervous about appearing in court, but I was treated very kindly. I am grateful that the judge agreed with my decision and granted the bypass.
While the government provides for most of my needs at the shelter, they have not allowed me to leave to get an abortion. Instead, they made me see a doctor that tried to convince me not to abort and to look at sonograms. People I don’t even know are trying to make me change my mind. I made my decision and that is between me and God. Through all of this, I have never changed my mind.
No one should be shamed for making the right decision for themselves. I would not tell any other girl in my situation what they should do. That decision is hers and hers alone.
I’ve been waiting for more than a month since I made my decision. It has been very difficult to wait in the shelter for news that the judges in Washington, D.C. have given me permission to proceed with my decision. I am grateful for this, and I ask that the government accept it. Please stop delaying my decision any longer.
My lawyers have told me that people around the country have been calling and writing to show support for me. I am touched by this show of love from people I may never know and from a country I am just beginning to know – to all of you, thank you.
This is my life, my decision. I want a better future. I want justice [anonymous, statement via guardian and the American Civil Liberties Union, 2017.10.25].
Trump, a man with no connection to this young woman other than his responsibility for the system incarcerating her, thought this was his decision to make. Trump thought that his desire to “promote childbirth and fetal life” outweighed this young woman’s control over her body. Trump was willing to use force (in this case, the force of law and executive authority) to control this woman, negate her autonomy, and force her to bear a child. The courts, fortunately, denied this use of force and upheld the young woman’s autonomy.
Trump’s overbearing action makes fresh the question I have posed to anti-abortion activists who would ban the procedure completely, or would allow it only in the most extreme situations. Consider:
Suppose you meet a woman on the street. You and she have no prior connection. You know nothing about her except that she is in the first trimester of pregnancy and is on her way to a clinic to abort her pregnancy. Imagine you are bigger than she is. Are you willing to use your size and strength to physically restrain that woman and prevent her from going to the clinic? Do you dare even touch this stranger, or say a word to this stranger about her delicate condition and her determination to end it?
If so, on what moral authority do you restrain this woman? How long are you willing to restrain her?
If not, then how do you justify passing laws that authorize Donald Trump, or Dennis Daugaard, or a local judge, or any other man or woman to use the force of law to restrain every woman in the same situation?
- Jane Martin’s 1992 play Keely and Du addresses this question dramatically with the story of an anti-abortion activist who abducts and confines a pregnant rape victim to prevent an abortion.
- Bob Mercer mentions new Morning Consult polling that finds 50% of Americans say Donald Trump is “sexist.”