The nation-State of Jane Doe: Jane Doe is very tired

Jane Doe is a 17-year-old undocumented woman currently caught in the State of Jane Doe, Texas and the United States of Trump. Both Texas and the United States are hell bent on torturing Jane Doe. Jane Doe is originally from Central America. Last month, Jane Doe discovered that she is pregnant. She requested an abortion. Jane Doe did everything that Texas required of her to obtain an abortion. Jane Doe is an “unaccompanied minor.” She did everything she had to do, and yet she is being held hostage by the United States government. Jane Doe is 17 years old, has played by the rules, and is being tortured for that. Her attorney reports that “she talks about being very tired.”

In the past week, a series of court hearings concerning Jane Doe have swung back and forth, one court allowing the abortion to proceed, the next disallowing Jane Doe’s immediate access to abortion and giving her until October 31 to find a sponsor to assume responsibility of the young woman and transport her to the clinic. Yesterday, another higher court heard an appeal of this decision. With all the attention on the legal proceedings, it’s easy to lose sight of the woman who never wanted to be called Jane Doe.

Jane Doe came to the United States on her own. She has reported that her parents beat her older sister when they discovered she was pregnant. Shortly after crossing the border, Jane Doe was apprehended. At the same time, she learned she was pregnant. She asked for an abortion. In Texas, an unaccompanied minor must obtain a waiver to get an abortion. Jane Doe did that. With the help of Jane’s Due Process and others, Jane Doe raised enough money for an abortion. Transportation was arranged. Everything was set. Despite court orders, the Office of Refugee Resettlement prohibited Jane Doe from travelling to her medical appointments. The Department of Health and Human Services forced her to attend a “Pregnancy Crisis Center” counseling and to have a sonogram. Even though Jane Doe had obtained a waiver that included confidentiality, the authorities informed her mother of her pregnancy. Those same authorities now say that Jane Doe can return to her family home, where she fears violence, and to her native country, where abortion is criminalized. In yesterday’s hearing, the government attorney argued, “Ms. Doe arrived here illegally and refuses to leave. She has put herself to a difficult choice. And if the federal government has to approve, assist, and be complicit in Ms. Doe’s abortion, the government’s interest in avoiding that facilitation outweighs any alleged ‘burden’ she has created for herself.”

Jane Doe bears the burden of living in a world in which the powerful hate young immigrant women of color, and impelled by that hatred lie, torture, and savage the life of a 17-year-old Latina who has braved so much. Then there is the historical burden we all share, that of living in a country in which “health and human services” means being held hostage and tortured and in which “refugee relocation” means being held hostage and tortured and then, of course, being told that the refugee “bears the responsibility.” We have seen this before.

“Who is on the look-out from this strange watch-tower
To warn us of our new executioners’ arrival?
Are their faces really different from ours?
Somewhere in our midst lucky Kapos survive.
Reinstated officers and anonymous informers.
There are those reluctant to believe
Or believing from time to time.
There are those who look at these ruins today
As though the monster were dead and buried beneath them.
Those who take hope again as the image fades
As though there were a cure for the scourge of these camps.
Those who pretend all this happened only once,
At a certain time and in a certain place.
Those who refuse to look around them,
Deaf to the endless cry.”
Night and Fog, Alain Resnais and Jean Cayrol

Jane Doe is 15 weeks pregnant. Texas bans elective abortion after a woman’s 20th week of pregnancy. Who is on the look-out to warn us of our new executioners’ arrival?


(Update: Jane Doe had her abortion, Wednesday, October 25, after a Court of Appeals ruling Tuesday, October 24.)

(Photo Credit: The Washington Post / Michael S. Williamson)

About Dan Moshenberg

Dan Moshenberg is an organizer educator who has worked with various social movements in the United States and South Africa. Find him on Twitter at @danwibg.