Parents End Request for Abortion on Mentally Ill Daughter

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 2, 2012   |   11:48AM   |   Boston, MA

The parents of a 32-year-old pregnant woman, known only as Mary Moe, have officially withdrawn their request to subject their daughter to a forced abortion and sterilization.

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. However, Moe is a Catholic and she 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. 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.”

Justice Harms also directed that whatever medical facility performed the abortion go ahead and sterilize Moe without her permission. Harms 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.”

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.”

Now, according to the Boston Herald, the court petition has been withdrawn and Norfolk Probate and Family Court Judge Gregory V. Roach authorized the Department of Mental Health to state publicly that that is the case. DMH spokeswoman Jennifer Kritz told the Herald yesterday that nothing else can be said about the case because Judge Roach sealed it.

Douglas Boyer, the woman’s court-appointed attorney who fought the ruling, could not be reached for comment by the newspaper.

Colin Mason, of the Population Research Institute, wrote about the case from the pro-life perspective.

“The most positive side to this story may, in fact, be the extent of the controversy it has garnered,” he said. “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,” he added.

Rob Schwarzwalder of the Family Research Council also commented.

“All of this poses a troubling question: Our society’s outrage over Judge Harms’ decision, while admirable, is much too muted when it comes to the ongoing death of more than 3,000 unborn children daily in the U.S., as is our culture’s compassion for their mothers, who often are “left uninformed” of the other, non-abortion related options they have,” he said.