Basic Human Rights

I bought a t-shirt today that reads “Girls Just Want To Have Fun-damental Human Rights.” In fact, if Roe v Wade is overturned, a lot of the basic moral, just, ethical and fair “rights” we take for granted in human society today that actually at NOT codified in the Constitution will also come under threat by the same logic the conservative justices on the Supreme Court are using in this very polarizing issue.

It caused me to think about how adoptees are treated – no right to know who the parents that conceived them were, no right to their original birth name or original birth certificate, no right to the records associated with the decision to allow them to be adopted and which they never consented to. No right to their personal medical history information. Adoptees are treated like second class citizens.

The rights of Black people, the rights of women generally, the rights of those who identify as LGBTQ – all is under threat now . . . My husband recommended an article to me in The Guardian today. I will read it as soon as I have a few minutes. It is by Laurence Tribe. The subtitle reads – If the high court adopts Alito’s draft opinion, it will be a legal tidal wave that sweeps away a swath of rights unlike anything America has ever seen.

Increasing The Supply

I did think this – immediately. That banning abortion is meant to increase the number of babies available for adoption. Actually, I’ve thought this for some years as I have learned more about the traumatic impacts of separating children from their biological parents and have generally turned against the practice, even though but for adoption, I would not exist.

When I was doing my own family roots journey, I contacted the Salvation Army in El Paso TX because I knew my dad had been adopted from there. They told me that they closed their home for unwed mothers after Roe v Wade because they had no clients to serve. Very revealing. Three out of nine justices on the Supreme Court have adopted children. Adoptive parents are very influential when it comes to laws related to adoption as they are the ones who have the money. They are the ones who wish to keep an adopted person’s information away from them and hidden away in a sealed file.

An adoptee friend of mine who didn’t even know she was adopted into well into her adulthood as that had been hidden from her, a family secret, wrote – “Domestic supply of infants?” I guess they want to restart the supply chain, no matter how wrong that may be, how harmful to parents, family, the person who ends up being funneled into the system. She added –

Note there are no safeguards being proposed for the people who will be forced into that system. No additional funds for sex Ed, contraception. No requirements for men to take greater responsibility, no requirements for prospective adoptive parents to undergo evaluations, education and ongoing therapy. No after adoption services. No additional services for people forced to give birth. No aftercare services for people who lose their children to adoption. No acknowledgment of the fact that the majority of states will be erasing the children’s identities and severing them from family and community. No. Just an acknowledgment that there isn’t enough supply to meet demand.

A Pro-Adoption Supreme Court

Part of what drives the anti-abortion effort is that the supply of adoption available infants has dropped to almost nothing. Certainly, adoptee centric groups continue to counsel expectant mothers considering adoption to keep and raise their own children to save them from the trauma that separation from the mother who’s womb a baby grew in causes trauma that leads to a diverse variety of physical, mental and emotional effects.

Today, I discovered this person – The Adopted Chameleon. She writes, “Amy Coney Barrett has said she isn’t inclined to protect women’s rights because the baby can be put up for adoption. She has adopted children and knows nothing about adoption. She is clearly biased. John Roberts and Clarence Thomas have adopted children also. They are biased also.”

The Safe Haven Laws are often used to prove that a woman does not need to parent the baby she carries to term. What these people seem to conveniently ignore is the 9 months of a woman’s life that she must give up to gestate a baby. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood comes quickly to mind. Forced birth to supply the demand for babies by couple who are infertile or just can’t have enough children. There are truly gross examples of that kind of overconsumption of children – I’ve written about some of these in the past.

The Adopted Chameleon continues her thoughts with this – “These people are going to decide the fate of future mothers. They use their religion as the reason why abortion should be illegal. Abortion was never a sin in the Bible. The Bible talks about how to make a woman drink the bitter water if her husband thinks she was unfaithful. It never says its a sin. Abortion is used as a fear tactic in voting. People think they are saving babies but they are traumatizing mothers. Then if the mother relinquishes the baby, the baby is traumatized. The cruelty and ignorance of people is right in front of us. They show no remorse for separating families and taking rights away from babies that will be adults without rights. Adoption should be the last option. Adoption is trauma.”

A Christian mission is an organized effort to spread Christianity to new converts. Missions involve sending individuals and groups across boundaries, most commonly geographical boundaries, to carry on evangelism or other activities, such as educational or hospital work. The Pro-Life movement is actually a “mission” and it really matters not if the original parents are poor or of a different color than the hopeful adoptive parents – what matters is converting the heathens to the one true faith.

I woke up this morning to a husband who is worrying about what this contingent minority in our country will do next. Don’t believe this is all that they want. We are on the road to authoritarianism. Could they make these laws retroactive to punish anyone who ever had an abortion when it was legal ? Could they relegate anyone who has been donor conceived to a second class citizenship along with any person who is not the “right” color ? Though I will say that such things could occur, if the current path continues along the current trajectory, making laws retroactive against people who were acting under legal provisions at the time they did whatever will certainly be a dark day for freedom and will usher in a most draconian phase of life in these United States. So I will urge you to Vote Blue – Democrat in November and again in 2024 – if you value freedom at all.

Obedience, conformity, oneness and sameness over freedom and difference. These authoritarian inclined persons are unwilling to tolerate complexity, diversity and difference. Latent authoritarianism relates to a predisposition towards child-rearing values that exclude independence, curiosity and an ability to think through challenging subjects from one’s own points of view. It includes a concern with structuring society and social interactions that minimize any diversity of people, beliefs and behaviors. They favor disparaging, suppressing and punishing differences. ~ from Can It Happen Here ? page 182-183.

As Rebecca Solnit has written, “First they came for the reproductive rights (Roe v Wade, 1973) and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a uterus in its ovulatory years, because then they want to come for the marriage rights of same-sex couples (Obergefell v Hodges, 2015), and then the rights of consenting adults of the same gender to have sex with each other (Lawrence v Texas, 2003), and then for the right to birth control (Griswold v Connecticut, 1965). It doesn’t really matter if they’re coming for you, because they’re coming for us. ‘Us’ these days means pretty much everyone who’s not a straight white Christian man with rightwing politics.”

Adult Adoption

I read a review today of a TV reality show I will NOT be watching – Adults Adopting Adults. Yet I thought it would be an interesting topic to explore in today’s blog. I’ve come across the concept before within an all things adoption group I belong to as some adoptees in reunion with their biological family, wish to be adopted as adults by their original family. And in doing a quick google search – it really is a thing – and there are lots of law firms willing to help anyone through the process for a fee.

Beyond the adoptee in reunion with their original family, why would anyone else want to do this ? Certainly in that reality show, there are some sexually nefarious reasons and so, I really have no interest in watching it. By the way, the question has come up regarding immigration and no, adopting a foreign national does not automatically grant them citizenship.

Adult Adoption is very common in Japan and it actually goes back to business inheritance laws that no longer apply but tradition suggests they still hold a lot of sway as I learned in an article for The Economist. The country’s declining birth rate has limited the likelihood of a male heir for many business families. Many legal adoptions are coupled with a form of arranged marriage (known as omiai) to one of the family’s daughters—but the son-in-law (or mukoyoshi) then changes his name to hers. Today a host of matchmaking companies and marriage consultants recruit voluntary adoptees for Japanese companies.

To be selected as a mukoyoshi is to be awarded a high executive honor. This prompts fierce competition among managers, ensuring that the business has access to as good a talent pool as non-family companies. In fact, researchers have found that adopted heirs’ firms outperform blood heirs’ firms—although the prospect of being overlooked for an outsider can serve as motivation for sons to knuckle down, too.

In the US, the primary drivers of adult adoptions are where a step-parent wishes to secure inheritance rights for their step-child and in situations of disability requiring long-term care. I have a friend with an autistic daughter approaching legal age who has been informed to maintain support requirements, she will have to adopt her own daughter. I can also imagine this happening where a parent needs the legal guardianship of their child (though I do believe having flirted with that issue regarding my dad, adoption isn’t necessary to secure that support).

In June 2015, the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark civil rights case of Obergefell v. Hodges that the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples, with all the accompanying rights and responsibilities, is guaranteed by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Before the advent of federally legalized same-sex marriage, some couples utilized adult adoption in order to pass on inheritance rights and medical decision making to their partners.

Abortion or Adoption is NOT an Equal Choice

It will be some time before the Supreme Court rules on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization but there are quite a few perspectives turning up in the news already. Both Justice Amy Coney Barrett and Justice Brett Kavanaugh have gotten a lot of attention for their questions during the oral arguments. Forgive me the long blog but I am passionate about both the issue of legal abortion and curtailing the number of babies who end up adopted. And forgive me this too but I do believe there is an element among the Evangelicals of indoctrinating children who would not have been otherwise raised in the Christian religion into their belief system. Basically, conversion of the heathen masses.

Justice Barrett was perhaps the most clueless but as an adoptive mother her perspective should not surprise. NPR had a good feature on this – Why ‘Abortion Or Adoption’ Is Not An Equal Choice – and hence my blog title. Justice Barrett said, I have a question about the safe haven laws. NPR’s Ailsa Chang comments – Safe haven laws are essentially laws that allow someone to terminate parental rights to a child by relinquishing that child for adoption. (Blogger’s note – this is not entirely my understanding but I’ll leave it stand.)

Justice Barrett continued, “In all 50 states, you can terminate parental rights by relinquishing a child, and I think the shortest period might have been 48 hours if I’m remembering the data correctly.” Chang interjects, “Justice Barrett, who adopted two of her own seven children, wanted to know, isn’t adoption an alternative to abortion?” Barrett continued, “Both Roe and Casey emphasized the burdens of parenting and the obligations of motherhood that flow from pregnancy. Why don’t the safe haven laws take care of that problem? It seems to me that it focuses the burden…”

Gretchen Sisson, a sociologist at the University of California at San Francisco, was also commenting on this program and said, “It’s very interesting that Justice Coney Barrett focuses specifically on the safe haven laws because this usage is extraordinarily rare. . . her broader argument about the termination of parental rights is still somewhat surprising because what we have found is that most of them do not end up choosing to place the infant for adoption.”

Another guest is “Bri” (not her actual name but used for privacy). Chang explains, Bri “had a baby and relinquished it for adoption seven years ago. It was a decision that still weighs on her to this day.” I think Bri’s perspective is accurate, “The suggestion that abortion isn’t needed because adoption is there makes it seem like this casual thing, like taking off a sweater and giving it to someone else and just forgetting about it or moving on. And that’s not what it is. It’s this huge event that you do to yourself and your child, and it changes you.” Chang adds, “For many people who don’t wish to have a child, it doesn’t come down to some binary choice between adoption or abortion. These are not equivalent options.” I agree. 

The numbers are shocking. There are around 18,000 to 20,000 private domestic adoptions per year, and these are the adoptions in which a woman makes the decision during or immediately after her pregnancy to terminate her parental rights and place that child for adoption. The number of people who choose to get an abortion is about 900,000 per year. If you look back pre Roe v. Wade, there were more illegal abortions happening than there were adoptions happening. And this is when the adoption rate was at its peak and abortions were completely illegal. There were still more abortions than there were adoptions. Adoption is a very hard decision and it has a lot of adverse outcomes. We see a lot of grief, a lot of mourning, a lot of trauma for the women who go through relinquishments. And that has not really changed even as the context of adoption practice has changed over the years. There is also data that suggests that, in some cases, it is a medically riskier to carry a pregnancy full-term and deliver that baby than to have an abortion, in early stages of pregnancy.

The bottom line is – this isn’t a choice between having an abortion or giving the baby up for adoption, but actually the choice is whether to abort, terminate the pregnancy, or whether the mother has the resources to parent. Many single women faced with an unplanned pregnancy will still chose to parent their baby IF given the support, encouragement and resources to do so. Unfortunately, the selfish elements of our system of government and overall society do not choose to do so. Adoption is often a derailment of parenting plans due to a lack of financial resources, familial support and/or partner support. And when parenting feels precarious or untenable, adoption becomes the solution that they then turn to.

Slate has an article with a similar focus – While Hearing the Case that Could Overturn Roe, Amy Coney Barrett Suggests Adoption Could Obviate the Need for Abortion Anyway. They note that 3 of the Justices, Chief Justice John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, while listening to arguments about Texas’ notorious SB 8 last month, demonstrated some hesitation about overturning Roe and further dismantling the inherent legitimacy of the highest court in the land. Also note that Chief Justice Roberts has two adopted children and Justice Clarence Thomas has an adopted child as well. Looks like the adoptive parents side of the argument is well represented !!

As part of Justice Barrett’s argument which I have already shared, she goes on to note, “There is without question an infringement on bodily autonomy, for which we have another context like vaccines. . . . so it seems to me that the choice would be between the ability to get an abortion at 23 weeks, or the state requiring the woman to go 15, 16 weeks more, and then terminate parental rights at the conclusion.” The lawyer for Jackson Women’s Health points out that adoption has existed since Roe was first decided and  that pregnancy and birth in particular have dramatic effects on a woman’s health, also that the choice to give a child up for adoption is its own burden, not something to lightly suggest is easy. I agree.

One of the main arguments the state of Mississippi is making in this case is that pregnancy, and parenthood by extension, is no longer burdensome because of many economic and social developments that make pregnancy safer and parenting easier. (And I also agree that they are wrong.) “Numerous laws enacted since Roe—addressing pregnancy discrimination, requiring leave time, assisting with childcare, and more—facilitate the ability of women to pursue both career success and a rich family life,” Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch wrote. It is shocking to hear this claim from Fitch, whose state refuses to enact laws that would grant basic protections and security to new and expectant mothers. In fact, Mississippi remains a dangerous and difficult place to bear, birth, and raise a child for lower-income parents.

The Supreme Court can only embrace Fitch’s fantastical thinking by denying the brutal reality. At every stage of pregnancy, life is difficult for Mississippians who are not wealthy. The state’s maternal mortality rate is substantially higher than the national average, and its infant mortality rate is the highest in the nation. And the racial disparities are staggering. Black mothers die at about three times the rate of white mothers. While Black infants only make up 43 percent of births, they are more than half of the premature births and nearly 60 percent of the infant deaths. Black infants also experience birth defects at four times the rate of white infants.

Be sure to click on the other link embedded (also in Slate) that takes you to an earlier article from September – Mississippi Claims Its Abortion Ban Will “Empower” Women – In reality, it could kill them by Jonathan Allen and Mark Joseph Stern.

As to Justice Kavanaugh, it appears he is opportunistic and has never been honest with the American people, especially during his confirmation hearings. Verdict has an article titled – Justice Kavanaugh’s Misdirection Plays in the Mississippi Abortion Case. Basically it comes down to his definition of “settled law” (as applied to Roe v Wade) and “precedent on precedent” (as applied to Casey). And each seems to have been intentionally misleading during his confirmation hearings.

Those statements seemed designed to reassure senators and the public that he would not vote to eliminate the abortion right. By “settled law,” Kavanaugh apparently meant only that the Supreme Court had not yet overruled Roe and Casey, leaving open the possibility that the Supreme Court could unsettle the law by doing so. As for “precedent on precedent,” the phrase perhaps sounded like a kind of extra-strength precedent, but all Kavanaugh really meant was that the Casey decision included a discussion about precedent (in addition to its discussion of abortion). It was thus a precedent about, or, if you will, on, precedent.

All the linked articles contain additional details and context. What seems clear, depending on how the Supreme Court rules, is that there may be MORE babies for hopeful prospective parents to adopt. The supply of humans for the profit of more than one entity involved in the business of adoption has been severely limited. When I was researching my dad’s adoption, which was related to The Salvation Army, they admitted to me they had to close most of their unwed mothers homes because the demand went down sharply with the legalization of abortion in the Roe v Wade decision.

Assimilation Is The Intention

For many indigenous women, political action regarding children was not about campaigns for
subsidized day cares or cultural arguments about gender, work, and parenting. Child welfare was a literal fight to keep Native children in their homes and in their nations.

During the 1970s, Native American women activists understood the crisis of child adoption
(which had grown rampant in the postwar era) as more than a personal issue affecting individual
families. The removal of Native children from their homes and communities compromised not only parental rights but also tribal sovereignty. Technically, indigenous nations had a legal advantage in the battle for control over Indian child welfare because the right to oversee issues related to children living on reservations existed as an implicit aspect of sovereignty. In practice, however, state courts and welfare agencies largely misunderstood or ignored tribal authority and the interests of indigenous communities and removed Native children from their homes at arresting rates—an average of one quarter of Native American children lived away from their parents during the early 1970s

In response, Native women activists created a child welfare political agenda that not only kept
children in their communities but also addressed the problems that sometimes led to foster and adoptive placements. Although they acknowledged that there were legitimate issues, such as alcoholism, that required some parents to surrender their children, activists did not interpret the current crisis as the result of inadequate parenting. Nor did they place blame exclusively on culturally insensitive child welfare systems. Rather, activists condemned poverty and the vestiges of colonialism for the problems that precipitated child removals. One activist asserted that ‘‘the process of colonization has brought more destruction to these family ties than any internal changes … could have ever created.’’ According to this woman and others, while colonization created the problems indigenous families faced—solutions to them rested with Native nations. Both the programs’ indigenous women activists established and their petitions to the federal government to uphold the right of the tribes to control child welfare focused on increasing tribal agency in addressing the fundamental difficulties that Native families confronted. These activists gained strength from their citizenship in Native nations and framed their work against child removals in the context of tribal sovereignty.

The history of non-Native people intervening in the lives of indigenous families is a long one; arguably as old as the history of colonization itself. The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 is Federal law that governs the removal and out-of-home placement of American Indian children. … ICWA established standards for the placement of Indian children in foster and adoptive homes and enabled Tribes and families to be involved in child welfare cases.

“They closed the boarding schools and opened up CPS (Child Protective Services), but it’s the same thing – they’re still coming in and taking our children,” Cetan Sa Winyan said. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians of California and the Quinault Indian Nation of Washington are petitioning the Supreme Court to request that the Indian Child Welfare Act remain intact.

The state of Texas is challenging the constitutionality of ICWA, claiming it’s a race-based system that makes it more difficult for Native kids to be adopted or fostered into non-Native homes. Another argument is that the law commandeers states too much, giving federal law imbalanced influence in state affairs.

A Supreme Court response to the tribes’ petition and the petition filed by the plaintiffs is due on October 8th.

Tribes and advocates argue that ICWA is culturally- and politically-based, not race-based, because tribal nations have political status as sovereign governments under federal law. Cherokee Nation Deputy Attorney General Chrissi Nimmo said the tribe will put all the resources it has into making sure ICWA is protected. “ICWA attempts to keep children connected to their tribe … and an attack on that is absolutely an attack on tribal sovereignty,” Nimmo said.

In the case of Brackeen v. Haaland, the Brackeens — the white, adoptive parents of a Diné child in Texas — seek to overturn ICWA by claiming reverse racism. Joined by co-defendants including the states of Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, and Indiana, they’re being represented pro bono by Gibson Dunn, a high-powered law firm which also counts oil companies Energy Transfer and Enbridge, responsible for the Dakota Access and Line 3 pipelines, among its clients.

You can sign a petition here – https://action.lakotalaw.org/action/protect-icwa.

Roe’s Baby

Most women know that Roe v Wade is threatened. A new law in Texas bans abortion after about six weeks and puts enforcement in the hands of private citizens. The Supreme Court, with a 6–3 conservative majority, is scheduled to take up the question of abortion in its upcoming term. It could well overturn Roe. I think I did know but was reminded today that the baby at the heart of the long drawn out legal case was put up for adoption. Sharing an excerpt from a story in The Atlantic – The Roe Baby.

Jane Roe, was a Dallas waitress named Norma McCorvey. Norma won her case. But she never had the abortion. On January 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court finally handed down its decision, she had long since given birth—and relinquished her child for adoption.

Norma’s personal life was complex. She had casual affairs with men, and one brief marriage at age 16. She bore three children, each of them placed for adoption. But she slept far more often with women, and worked in lesbian bars. Norma could be salty and fun, but she was also self-absorbed and dishonest, and she remained, until her death in 2017, at the age of 69, fundamentally unhappy.

In 1981, Norma briefly volunteered for the National Organization for Women in Dallas. Thereafter, slowly, she became an activist—working at first with pro-choice groups and then, after becoming a born-again Christian in 1995, with pro-life groups. Being born-again did not give her peace; pro-life leaders demanded that she publicly renounce her homosexuality (which she did, at great personal cost). 

Norma believed that abortion ought to be legal for precisely three months after conception, a position she stated publicly after both the Roe decision and her religious awakening. She was ambivalent about adoption, too. Playgrounds were a source of distress: Empty, they reminded Norma of Roe; full, they reminded her of the children she had let go.

The author of a new book – The Family Roe – Joshua Prager says – In time, I would come to know Shelley and her sisters well, along with their birth mother, Norma. Their lives resist the tidy narratives told on both sides of the abortion divide. To better represent that divide in my book, I also wrote about an abortion provider, a lawyer, and a pro-life advocate who are as important to the larger story of abortion in America as they are unknown. Together, their stories allowed me to give voice to the complicated realities of Roe v. Wade—to present, as the legal scholar Laurence Tribe has urged, “the human reality on each side of the ‘versus.’”

The lawyer for her adoption did not tell the adoptive couple anything more than that she had two half sisters. But he did not identify them, or Norma, or say anything about the Roe lawsuit that Norma had filed three months earlier. When the Roe case was decided, in 1973, the adoptive parents were oblivious of its connection to their daughter who was then 2 and a half.

Shelly knew she was adopted. As she grew older, she wished to know who had brought her into being: her heart-shaped face and blue eyes, her shyness and penchant for pink, her frequent anxiety—which gripped her when her father began to drink heavily. The adoptive parents fought. Doors slammed. Shelley watched her mother issue second chances, then watched her father squander them. One day in 1980, as Shelley remembered, “it was just that he was no longer there.” Shelley was 10. 

In high school, in the city of Burien, outside Seattle, Shelley had a boyfriend who had also been adopted. Reminds me of my own parents story – high school sweethearts, both adopted. Shelley’s hands began to shake. She suffered from depression. Eventually, she came to understand that her symptoms preceded her birth. “When someone’s pregnant with a baby,” she reflected, “and they don’t want that baby, that person develops knowing they’re not wanted.” 

An investigator who accomplished adoptee reunions with their birth mothers was given the case of finding Shelley by The National Enquirer. She was able to track her down through birth records (Norma had supplied the necessary information). She waited in a parking lot in Kent, Washington, where she knew Shelley lived. When she saw Shelley walk by, the investigator introduced herself and told Shelley that she was an adoption investigator sent by her birth mother. Shelley felt a rush of joy: The woman who had let her go now wanted to know her. She began to cry. Wow! she thought. Wow! She told Shelley that “her mother was famous—but not a movie star or a rich person.” Rather, her birth mother was “connected to a national case that had changed law.” 

At their second meeting, the investigator handed Shelley a recent article about Norma in People magazine, and the reality sank in. “She threw it down and ran out of the room.” When Shelley returned, she was “shaking all over and crying.” All her life, Shelley had wanted to know the facts of her birth. Having idly mused as a girl that her birth mother was a beautiful actor, she now knew that her birth mother was synonymous with abortion, something she was against.

When told the other person at the second meeting was on a deadline and writing an article for the Enquirer, Shelley and her adoptive mother abruptly left. “Here’s my chance at finding out who my birth mother was,” she said, “and I wasn’t even going to be able to have control over it because I was being thrown into the Enquirer.”

Instead Shelley was able to arrange a call directly to Norma. Norma didn’t mention abortion. She told Shelley that she’d given her up because, Shelley recalled, “I knew I couldn’t take care of you.” She also told Shelley that she had wondered about her “always.” But later, Shelley made clear that a day for an in person reunion might never come. “I’m glad to know that my birth mother is alive,” she was quoted in the story that the Enquirer eventually published as saying, “and that she loves me—but I’m really not ready to see her. And I don’t know when I’ll ever be ready—if ever.” She added: “In some ways, I can’t forgive her … I know now that she tried to have me aborted.”

Shelley had long considered abortion wrong, but her connection to Roe had led her to reexamine the issue. It now seemed to her that abortion law ought to be free of the influences of religion and politics. Religious certitude left her uncomfortable. And, she reflected, “I guess I don’t understand why it’s a government concern.”

Shelley never did meet her mother, Norma. She died while Shelley still struggled with her identity as the Roe baby.

Forced Sterilization

In China –

A teacher coerced into giving classes in Xinjiang internment camps has described her forced sterilization at the age of 50, under a government campaign to suppress birth rates of women from Muslim minorities. Qelbinur Sidik said the crackdown swept up not just women likely to fall pregnant, but those well beyond normal childbearing ages. Messages she got from local authorities said women aged 19 to 59 were expected to have intrauterine devices (IUDs) fitted or undergo sterilization.

In 2017, Sidik was 47 and her only daughter was at university when local officials insisted she must have an IUD inserted to prevent the unlikely prospect of another pregnancy. Just over two years later, at 50, she was forced to undergo sterilization. When the first order came, the Chinese language teacher was already giving classes at one of the now notorious internment camps appearing across China’s western Xinjiang region.

She knew what happened to people from Muslim minorities who resisted the government. In a Uighur-language text message that she shared, local authorities made the threat explicit. “If anything happens, who will take responsibility for you? Do not gamble with your life, don’t even try. These things are not just about you. You have to think about your family members and your relatives around you,” the message said. “If you fight with us at your door and refuse to collaborate with us, you will go to the police station and sit on the metal chair!”

In the US –

Dawn Wooten, a nurse working at an ICE detention center in Georgia, made startling allegations about the treatment of the women detained there. Wooten filed a whistleblower complaint against the agency last Monday.

Natalia Molina has written about the history of forced sterilization. There’s a shameful legacy of US officials ordering operations on people without their consent — often disproportionately targeting people of color — with laws driven by racism and cloaked in terms about mental health and fitness. There’s a long history affecting many different racial and ethnic groups, across many institutions — mental health hospitals, public hospitals and prisons.

The ICE allegations can be seen as a recent episode in a much longer trajectory of sterilization abuse and reproductive injustice.

Back in 1907, Indiana passed the world’s first eugenics sterilization law. 31 other US states followed suit. Women and people of color increasingly became the target, as eugenics amplified sexism and racism. The laws, which led to officials ordering sterilizations of people they deemed “feeble-minded” or “mentally defective,” later became models for Nazi Germany.

Under those laws, about 60,000 people were sterilized in procedures that we would qualify today as being compulsory, forced, involuntary, and under the justifications that the people who were being sterilized were unfit to reproduce. In California, people of Mexican descent were disproportionately sterilized. And in North Carolina, Black women were disproportionately targeted. Most of the state laws were repealed by the 1970s. But their history is something states are still reckoning with.

Could progressives become the next target upheld by a very conservative Supreme Court ? One hopes not but with the craziness that is overtaking the US, one can no longer predict how outrageous an unethical policy might be and still be upheld in the coming future. What has been done, cannot be undone, but we should never be silent about injustice and abuse. We can stop turning our heads away because it is someone else’s problem.

Never forget, social ideas can be twisted in order to promote dehumanization. Like the Muslim ban Trump ordered shortly after his inauguration.

Complicated

I’ve been following threads this morning that touch on a topic that I have struggled with before.  It is complicated.  I am pro-Life in a pro-Choice way.  I believe it is a woman’s right to choose and I am deeply concerned about efforts to overturn Roe v Wade.  I just read yesterday that an amicus curie brief was released in which 205 Republican lawmakers, including 39 senators, have asked the Supreme Court to consider whether the 1973 protection of the right to an abortion “should be reconsidered and, if appropriate, overruled.”

Personally, I once resisted the suggestion to have an abortion.  My husband was a heroin addict and had developed hepatitis.  We had a nephew with severe birth defects.  My husband was concerned that our baby would also have negative impacts.  I don’t know why but I just knew she was perfect and defended her life.  She is perfect.

Yet, then I became pregnant under worrisome conditions.  I was taking exotic drugs of a psychedelic nature frequently.  My partner was not the kind of man who was going to be a supportive father.  I was not in a financial position to raise a child on my own.  I had already voluntarily surrendered my daughter to her paternal grandmother while I tried to get on my feet financially.  Shades of my maternal grandmother and how she lost my mom to adoption.

I had an abortion because it was safe and legal.  It was not an easy decision to live with, I will admit that.  It haunted me a bit.  I remember a message coming into my awareness that my son would come back when the timing was better.  It would happen 25 years later.  A son was born into a stable marriage with good circumstances.  Interestingly, my daughter had a similar experience with a still birth and when she became pregnant again, had the same kind of knowing that this was the same son’s soul that was lost before.

I have some concern about a missionary zeal that takes babies from vulnerable young women in order to indoctrinate them into evangelical Christian orthodoxy.  Yet, I also recognize that homelessness and drug use and a lack of financial and familial supports are a serious issue.  I have concerns that Roe v Wade will be overturned and young women will return to back alley abortions in their desperation.

I don’t really have answers to any of this.  Just concerns that are on my mind this morning.  Personally, I believe we live these lives to learn and develop at the soul level and that there are no mistakes, no death and an eternity in which to expand our awareness.