Reproductive Coercion Is the Trump Administration’s Latest Assault on Women’s Rights

For those who missed President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on January 30, the 80-minute speech was teeming with patriotism and heavily embraced a military state. But it’s one of the GOP’s favorite moments — the president’s praise of a police officer and  his wife for their recent adoption — that gives us an uncomfortable understanding of one of the White House’s most dangerous views: Women and girls of marginalized communities exist to provide babies for the rest of society.

The story of Ryan Holets, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, police officer, was supposed to be a heart-warming tale of taking on burden and sacrifice at God’s command in order to help a someone who is suffering. Instead, it comes across as a likely use of authority and force in a case of reproductive coercion. According to the public story, Holets discovered a pregnant woman addicted to drugs who was about to inject herself with heroin. Rather than arrest her and send her to prison, he agreed to adopt her baby once it was born.

“When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told him she didn’t know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby,” President Trump said. “In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him: ‘You will do it — because you can.’ He heard those words. He went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter Hope.”

There are so very many questions about this story –  the most important being, why were the only choices putting the pregnant in jail and adopting her baby?

There’s no reason why she couldn’t give birth and keep her child, whether in jail and eventually released or in a rehabilitation center. Yet when presented with those two singular options — as Holet makes it clear was an immediate and on-the-spot decision — she was literally forced to agree to give up her rights to her child in order to avoid a prison sentence.

Forcing marginalized pregnant people to give birth to children who will then be handed over to other families isn’t an isolated occurrence under the Trump administration, either, but a long discussed, formulated plan.

According to new documents released under a FOIA request, we’ve learned more details about the Office of Refugee Resettlement and director Scott Lloyd. The department has been under fire in recent months due to its ongoing refusal to allow unaccompanied pregnant minors a release from their government-sponsored settlement centers in order to obtain abortions — despite judicial approval and the patients’ ability to pay without any outside funding. And now it’s come to light that ORR didn’t just try to block these abortions; in one case, program officers even discussed “reversing” the abortion that one teen had already began.

Based on deposition obtained by VICE, the agency discussed a medically unproven protocol that would allegedly “reverse” a medication abortion if the embryo still showed a heartbeat after the initial medication had been ingested.

“But in March 2017, the Trump administration delayed allowing an undocumented, pregnant teen to take the second pill for several hours in order to determine the ‘health status’ of her ‘unborn child,’ according to the March 6 memo,” Carter Sherman reports. “According to the memo, an examination of the teen at a local hospital found a fetal heartbeat more than 24 hours after the teen took the first pill in the medication abortion.”

“Reversal” — as abortion opponents call it, is an ongoing progesterone regime given to the pregnant person if the initial medication does not actually stop the pregnancy from progressing. It’s currently used experimentally on those who take the initial medication but not the later medication meant to expel the embryo from the body in a miscarriage-like process. At this point, the technique has not proven to be any more effective than just not taking the later medication at all, and there are no studies about the long-term impact on pregnant person or child.

Simply put, this pregnant girl was taken to a hospital, given a vaginal ultrasound, forced to delay her medication and nearly medically experimented on by the Trump administration — all because she is undocumented.

And unless the teen in question consented to all of the actions of the ORR, that’s a major violation of personal rights.

Had they not eventually provided the rest of the medication protocol, and she eventually gave birth, what would have happened to that child? Would they have given it to her to raise? Would she be told she could stay in the country as a citizen if she gave it up to a “good” couple for adoption? Would a resettlement agent say God told them to take in this baby? And would that be touted as the next “feel good story” of the State of the Union 2019?

That very well could have been the case. If we’ve learned nothing else in the last year, it’s that the Trump administration’s dream is to force births and then coerce “bad mothers”  to give those children to “good” parents to raise.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

75 comments

Lesa D
Lesa D1 months ago

thank you Robin...

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Mike R
Mike R2 months ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R2 months ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R2 months ago

Thanks

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Mike R
Mike R2 months ago

Thanks

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DAVID fleming
DAVID fleming2 months ago

Noted

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KimJ M
KimJ M2 months ago

ty

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KimJ M
KimJ M2 months ago

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KimJ M
KimJ M2 months ago

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KimJ M
KimJ M2 months ago

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