Commentary

Texas abortion case highlights the dystopian world Trump and his religious right allies would implement

In case you missed it in recent days and weeks, be sure to catch up on the Kafkaesque nightmare that the Trump administration inflicted on a 17 year old in Texas in service of its fanatical and misogynistic anti-abortion crusade. As a fine Washington Post editorial — reprinted yesterday in the Greenville Daily Reflector — explains:

“J.D. — short for Jane Doe — is a 17-year-old immigrant living in a Texas shelter for undocumented minors. She is also pregnant and seeking an abortion. The federal government refuses to allow her to end her pregnancy.

Under the directorship of Scott Lloyd, an antiabortion activist appointed by President Donald Trump to lead the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR began preventing federally funded shelters from ‘facilitat[ing]’ access to abortion services unless Lloyd approved. Instead, shelters for undocumented minors may support only ‘pregnancy services and life-affirming options counseling.’ Lloyd has personally reached out to several pregnant teenagers to counsel them against seeking abortions, reportedly viewing himself as a ‘foster father.’

J.D. received a Texas judge’s approval to receive an abortion in the absence of consent from her parents, who remain in her home country and who she says abused her. Yet the government is preventing her from leaving the shelter to receive the procedure – what the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing J.D., describes as ‘holding her hostage.’ J.D. has instead been forced to visit a religiously affiliated crisis pregnancy center and view a sonogram of the fetus. ORR has also contacted her mother to inform her of J.D.’s pregnancy against the daughter’s will.”

Happily, since the editorial was first produced, the U.S. Court of Appeals has intervened at the behest of J.D.’s lawyers at the ACLU. This is from a statement released yesterday by the ACLU:

“More than a month after she made her decision, Jane Doe was able to obtain an abortion this morning. She was able to get the abortion care after an appeals court in Washington, D.C., issued a decision late yesterday, clearing the way for a federal district court to issue an order requiring the Trump Administration to stop blocking her access and to allow her to get the care she requested.

Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, had this reaction:

‘Justice prevailed today for Jane Doe. But make no mistake about it, the Administration’s efforts to interfere in women’s decisions won’t stop with Jane,’ said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. ‘With this case we have seen the astounding lengths this administration will go to block women from abortion care. We will not stop fighting until we have justice for every woman like Jane.’”

The tragic bottom line: J.D. may have been rescued, but her nightmare reflects precisely the kind of dystopian world that the nation’s anti-abortion crusaders aim to inflict on millions of American women — especially women of color and with low-incomes — going forward. And, at present, it’s increasingly clear that they have an ally in this effort in the person of their hypocritical lackey in the White House. It is incumbent upon all caring and thinking Americans to speak up against and combat this appalling assault on human freedom and liberty.

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