Is Hitler's world our own?

The forced sterilization of those whom society has rejected because of their race, economic standing, or mental condition rightfully brings to mind Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger.  Adolf Hitler also comes to mind, with his absolute inhumane treatment of 400,000 fellow humans via forced sterilizations under his "Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases."

But that was then, and this is now. And what happened under Sanger and Hitler couldn't happen in a society as "advanced" as ours -- or could it?  (Or is it?)

In December 2010, the Boston Herald reported on Norfolk Probate and Family Court Judge Christina L. Harms' order to force a 32-year-old woman, referred to by the pseudonym "Mary Moe," to have an abortion and then to be sterilized -- all against the woman's consent.

Harms' justification for her decision was Moe's mental state.  (One of Hitler's reasons for forcing women to be sterilized in the 1930s was "mental illness" as well.)  What's especially horrifying about Moe's situation, however, is that her mental problems are documented to be the direct result of an abortion she had to end an earlier pregnancy -- an abortion she now regrets because she believes that through it, "she killed her baby."

And even though a guardian ad litem concluded that Moe "would have refused an abortion even if mentally sound" because of her Roman Catholic faith, Harms was unmoved.

Rather, Harms summarily dismissed the guilt and misery Moe still feels from having her first abortion, as well as her faith, and "claimed in her ruling that Moe would choose the abortion if she were mentally competent."  She also "directed that any medical facility that performed the abortion also sterilize Moe at the same time to avoid [sic] this painful situation from recurring."

It's like Orwell's world is now our world, and it's neither brave nor new.  Instead, it's an ugly rewrite of the kind of place Sanger and Hitler both envisioned.

Yet as bad as this story could end, by God's grace, State Appellate Court Associate Justice Andrew R. Grainger reversed Judge Harms' ruling, stating that "[n]o party requested this measure ... and the judge appears to have simply produced the requirement out of thin air."

The Alliance Defense Fund, in its litigation on many other life-related matters, sees far too many tragic stories involving abortion.  We thank God that the angst which undoubtedly has consumed Moe since her first, and hopefully last, abortion will now be somewhat abated.  In this instance, life has triumphed over death.

Casey Mattox serves as legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund at its Washington, D.C. Regional Service Center.

The forced sterilization of those whom society has rejected because of their race, economic standing, or mental condition rightfully brings to mind Planned Parenthood's founder, Margaret Sanger.  Adolf Hitler also comes to mind, with his absolute inhumane treatment of 400,000 fellow humans via forced sterilizations under his "Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Diseases."

But that was then, and this is now. And what happened under Sanger and Hitler couldn't happen in a society as "advanced" as ours -- or could it?  (Or is it?)

In December 2010, the Boston Herald reported on Norfolk Probate and Family Court Judge Christina L. Harms' order to force a 32-year-old woman, referred to by the pseudonym "Mary Moe," to have an abortion and then to be sterilized -- all against the woman's consent.

Harms' justification for her decision was Moe's mental state.  (One of Hitler's reasons for forcing women to be sterilized in the 1930s was "mental illness" as well.)  What's especially horrifying about Moe's situation, however, is that her mental problems are documented to be the direct result of an abortion she had to end an earlier pregnancy -- an abortion she now regrets because she believes that through it, "she killed her baby."

And even though a guardian ad litem concluded that Moe "would have refused an abortion even if mentally sound" because of her Roman Catholic faith, Harms was unmoved.

Rather, Harms summarily dismissed the guilt and misery Moe still feels from having her first abortion, as well as her faith, and "claimed in her ruling that Moe would choose the abortion if she were mentally competent."  She also "directed that any medical facility that performed the abortion also sterilize Moe at the same time to avoid [sic] this painful situation from recurring."

It's like Orwell's world is now our world, and it's neither brave nor new.  Instead, it's an ugly rewrite of the kind of place Sanger and Hitler both envisioned.

Yet as bad as this story could end, by God's grace, State Appellate Court Associate Justice Andrew R. Grainger reversed Judge Harms' ruling, stating that "[n]o party requested this measure ... and the judge appears to have simply produced the requirement out of thin air."

The Alliance Defense Fund, in its litigation on many other life-related matters, sees far too many tragic stories involving abortion.  We thank God that the angst which undoubtedly has consumed Moe since her first, and hopefully last, abortion will now be somewhat abated.  In this instance, life has triumphed over death.

Casey Mattox serves as legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund at its Washington, D.C. Regional Service Center.

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