“I don’t feel sure about having a child.” With these words, “Jane Doe,” an undocumented Guatemalan immigrant, could have been speaking for millions of women facing pregnancy and childbirth. Instead, she spoke them as the epicenter of a national court battle that ended yesterday with her abortion somewhere in south Texas.
Americans United for Life is heartbroken at the loss of the innocent life at the heart of this court battle, and deeply troubled that this baby, yearning to breathe free, was not given a voice in the courts that heard Jane Doe’s arguments, nor the basic dignity and rights inherent to all human beings and due by law to all those on American soil.
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If Jane Doe had “wanted” this baby, or if someone near Jane had been able to persuade her that financial and personal resources were available to help her keep her baby or give it up for adoption to a welcoming home — perhaps one not blessed yet by an infant — there might have been a different outcome.
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At 15 weeks, Jane’s baby was not only a human being from the moment of conception but, in the words of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, “rapidly assuming the human form.” He or she had eyes, lips, a beating heart and taste buds. Were he or she a “wanted” baby, Jane would likely have already given him or her a name, or at least been perusing baby-name books for one.
Instead, “Baby Doe” ended life as a totem for Jane’s fierce commitment to “reproductive justice.”
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In that several-week journey, through five courts in two states and the District of Columbia, Jane was guided by attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who were determined to secure her access to “reproductive freedom.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously spoke of the “Four Freedoms”: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. Undoubtedly, Jane was motivated to risk a great deal in coming to the United States illegally by a strong desire for one or more of these freedoms. But abortion secures none of them, at the cost of a human life.
Jane Doe’s “choice” was a false choice: She could have departed for Mexico and obtained an abortion there, or she could have secured a “sponsor” in Texas — a private citizen to facilitate her abortion. It would seem the ACLU was more concerned about the precedent her case could set than about her as a person. It wouldn’t be the first time abortion advocates have callously used the difficult circumstances of a young, pregnant woman to further their ends, as the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade — Norma McCorvey — told the Supreme Court in 2007. Her brief so moved Justice Kennedy that he referred to it in his majority opinion for the Court, quoted above.
Jane Doe’s case won’t end the ACLU’s drive to force public officials to facilitate access to elective abortions at taxpayer expense. Already, it has filed a class-action lawsuit in the District of Columbia. As Judge Karen Henderson suggested in her dissent from the final en banc (full court) order Tuesday, the D.C. Circuit Court’s decision threatens to conjure a so-called right to immediate abortion on demand from the U.S. Constitution, and to recast America, which has historically aspired to be a haven and place of refuge for the most vulnerable, into a destination for abortions.
Catherine Glenn Foster is the president and CEO of Americans United for Life.
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