Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
ICYMI, due to the massive phony freakout from the Right over bogus Planned Parenthood videos (and the inexplicable treating of it as credible by many mainstream news people) this is happening in Alabama:
An unnamed woman, who is referred to in court documents only as Jane Doe, is asking for permission to travel to Huntsville to end her pregnancy. She says she was unable to get an abortion before she was taken into custody and is now feeling desperate. “I am very distraught, and do not want to be forced to carry this pregnancy to term,” she wrote.
Jane Doe — who has to get permission from the court to be transported to the nearest clinic because prison officials consider abortion to be a non-emergency procedure — is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that it would be “cruel and unusual punishment” for the state of Alabama to deny her constitutional right to abortion.
Now, as Lauderdale County District Attorney Chris Connolly prepares to argue against this request, he is asking the court to strip Doe of her parental rights so that she will no longer have the right to end her pregnancy. In a hearing to determine the outcome of the case, which is expected to be decided by Friday, the state court appointed an attorney — known as a “guardian ad litem” — to serve on behalf of Doe’s fetus.
In case is wasn’t clear, the parental rights the DA is trying to strip Jane Doe of are not those of any existing children she has, but of those over her fetus. And because the fetus would be under state protection, Jane Doe would be forced to continue the pregnancy and give birth and then (possibly) have the state decide the eventual placement of the baby they forced her to deliver. After all, why wouldn’t they try to assert the same guardian ad litem interest they did over it in the fetal state? This is truly a new frontier in prison labor!
But don’t think women who are already imprisoned are the only targets of forced breeding programs by our nice anti-choice friends.
More broadly, as state officials go to court to defend harsh abortion restrictions from legal challenges, it’s not uncommon for lawyers to argue that these policies are necessary because it’s in the state’s best interest to preserve the life of the fetus. And when states move to prosecute pregnant women for allegedly endangering their pregnancies by using drugs, officials sometimes appoint legal representation for the fetuses but not for the women who carried them.
For our allies who (still) think Roe is safe (why??) or that overturning it would be no big deal because it would simply leave the issue to states to decide, what is going on right now in Alabama and other states hostile to reproductive rights should serve as the kind of screeching alarm that a smartphone jars you out of a nap with to alert you to a flash flood warning. Post-Roe America (which is currently the de facto reality in large swaths of it) is not a sweet idyll where women are gently admonished not to have abortions “as a form of birth control” and wise authority figures step aside to allow women and their doctors to take advantage of those magnanimous rape and “life of the mother” exceptions when necessary. Nope, it’s a place where the second a woman’s pregnancy test shows up positive she becomes the property of the state.
Irin Carmon reported on Thursday evening that Jane Doe had suddenly changed her mind:
An Alabama woman who sued in federal court to leave jail for a first-trimester abortion, and who faced the termination of her parental rights in response, has now signed an affidavit with a new lawyer saying she no longer wants the procedure. The news has come as a surprise to her prior attorneys, who have been helping her access an abortion, and who say they have not yet spoken to their client.
“After much consideration and counsel, I have decided that I no longer desire to pursue an abortion procedure and intend to carry the unborn child to full term and birth,” the affidavit reads in part. It was filed on Wednesday night by a new attorney, Maurice McCaney, who was court-appointed to defend the woman when the county attorney moved to terminate her parental rights.
“This lawsuit is about Jane Doe’s constitutional right to make her own determination regarding her pregnancy rather than the state, a state court judge, the district attorney, or the sheriff,” said Randall Marshall, legal director of the ACLU of Alabama, who was representing Jane Doe in her petition to leave the jail for an abortion. “If this is truly her decision, it must be respected. However, the circumstances under which this affidavit was obtained are highly suspicious and we are in the process of trying to determine Ms. Doe’s true wishes.” …
…McCaney declined to comment further to msnbc, citing his client’s privacy, but did confirm that he is the same person listed as vice-chancellor of Victory Christian Academy. The affidavit makes repeated mention of the phrase “unborn child” and says, “I have arrived at this decision of my own volition and choosing without any promise of present and/or future consideration and without any undue influence, duress, or threat of harm.”
I sure hope so (gulp).