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Massachusetts Forced Abortion Order Shocks U.S.

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

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

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

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.

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