"Why can't I make my own decision?"

That was the blunt question to a judge from a pregnant 13-year-old girl ensnared in a Palm Beach County court fight over whether she can have an abortion.

"I don't know," Circuit Judge Ronald Alvarez replied, according to a recording of the closed hearing obtained Friday.

"You don't know?" replied the girl, who is a ward of the state. "Aren't you the judge?"
A thirteen year old girl is making her case before a Florida judge, in an effort to expel a blob of cells from her own uterus.

This country is completely insane.

The girl, however, is tough and smart, and she makes a good case for herself. Read the story here.

Among the many injustices embedded in this story is how the laws restricting abortions disproportionately affect low-income women. A 24-hour waiting period is not a big deal - unless you don't have a car or child care, and you had to beg a ride to the clinic in the first place, and now you have no one to watch your children and no way to make that second trip. The 24-hour wait becomes 2 weeks as you make these arrangements. But now the procedure costs twice as much. And may no longer be legal in your state.

If this teenage girl came from a middle-class home, would this be happening to her?


Crabbi said...

This country is nuts. I'm shuddering to think that this child might be forced to deliver a baby. If she decided to take that risk, that would be her choice, but pregnancy and delivery are tough enough for grown women.

She certainly is tough and smart. It's hard to argue with her logic, as those dumbasses in Palm Beach found out.

"If this teenage girl came from a middle-class home, would this be happening to her?"

Doubt it. And it appears that the DCF didn't care about her until she got pregnant.

I've been thinking about the class issue quite a bit lately. Middle-class white people get a disproportionate amount of media coverage. Look at that runaway bride who was plastered all over cable news. Why should anyone other than her family and friends care? Oh, and the police who wasted their time and money looking for her.

laura k said...

Just like the missing or abducted children whose tragedies become media circuses. They are white, usually blond, conventionally "cute".

I think the class issue is the key to understanding a lot about this country.

Crabbi said...

I think so. Americans like to pretend class divisions don't exist, but of course they do and the right are masters at exploiting them.

I might post this article on my blog. Thomas Frank has some interesting stuff to say about this.

laura k said...

Hey, that looks great. I printed it to read later.

It's not just the right exploiting the class issue, though they certainly do. It's that everyone in this country wants to believe - does believe - they're middle class. Too few of us want to identify as working class, and form allegiances based on that.

I was SO excited when Howard Dean talked about this on the campaign trail: how working Americans vote against their economic interests. It's something I've been hearing (my family was in the labor movement) and saying all my life.

When Fox & Co accused Dean of "class warfare" I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. There's class warfare alright, but it starts at the top, with the tax cuts for the rich, and corporations not paying a penny...

laura k said...

Crabster: TJ at Welcome to Gilead posted about the missing person thing: it's here. If you don't check back in, I'll come around your place to post the link there.

Crabbi said...


Thanks! I'll check out TJ's post.

This is an issue that particularly irks me. There is a definite pattern when it comes to "national" tragedies. Bad thing happens, 24-hour media coverage takes over, ordinary people unconnected with event weigh in, polls are taken, hands are wrung, shrines are created, family spokesperson/media handler deals with the press/cable news, event comes to sad or happy conclusion. Then come the appearances on Larry King and Oprah, the book deals and the TV movies, and then we as a nation come together for a time of healing.

Gosh, I sound cynical, don't I? I'm not - I care just as much about missing kids as the next person. I love kids, damn it! And puppies and grandmas and maybe I even have a soft spot for confused runaway brides. What I hate is exploitation and sentimentality - and how this takes away from other news, because some of us care about tortured prsioners, too.

Speaking of cheapening tragedy, this is one of the better articles I read about the selling of 9/11.

laura k said...

Crabbi, I share your viewpoint on this, and your irked-ness. (Irkosity?) It often drives me totally nuts.

At the same time, I take heart from people who try, in whatever small way, to inject a political viewpoint into the mainstream debate. I notice this since I am sometimes one of those people. Someone, say, on Oprah who remarks on the social side of her personal experience. (Oprah actually does this consistently. It's part of her mission - to drop little bits of politicized education in her entertainment mix.)

It's very tough to do, because you can never control how much time you'll get or what the vapid CNN interviewer will say, but I do think it helps. Dripping water hollowing out a stone...

laura k said...

I tried to read that story, Crabletta, but couldn't get in. Doesn't Salon offer the "day pass" anymore? The beginning looks interesting, anyway...

Crabbi said...

Oh, oops. I knew I forgot to mention something. I think you have to get the day pass first, then paste the link into your browser's address bar. Sorry!

Crabbi said...

Yeah, Oprah does some good. I shouldn't let the fact that I find her annoying take away from that. OTOH, she is part of our whole starfucking and consumerist culture. I've been trying to lighten up about this a bit because I can be a real pain in the ass. But don't get me started on Dr. Phil :)

laura k said...

She's certainly part of it, but if she wasn't, she'd reach about .1% of the people she does now.

I am very interested in people who educate from inside the mainstream, because that's what I'm always trying to do with my writing.

Oprah wouldn't have a massive following if she were, say, Barbara Ehrenreich. But having built her massive audience, in between extended commercials for the latest stupid romantic comedy and family reunions, she gets people to talk about about domestic violence, child sexual abuse and depression. But if she only talked about those things, few would watch.

I think it's a lot easier to speak to the converted than to attempt the juggling act Oprah's going for. (Plus she gets people to read!) She could easily have her show and do nothing of value with it.

Dr. Phil, that's another story... Bleh.

Crabbi said...

You know what? You're right, so, so right :)

laura k said...


Thank you. This is something I think about a lot. I chose to try to be published in (for example) Seventeen magazine instead of Ms.

Of course you know I agree with you about the consumerist, celebrity-infatuated culture. If it wasn't for the internet, I'd be convinced I was an alien. (Of the ET variety.)

Crabbi said...

It's been a while since I read Seventeen, but I remember that it was a really smart, cool magazine. I loved it as a kid.

Speaking of our creepy, celebrity-fixated culture, I just found this (from a link on the Snopes site).

laura k said...

It used to be a smart, cool magazine. Then new management wanted celebrities on every cover... sigh

A story of mine was caught in the cross-fire during the regime change. It wasn't pretty.

Will check out Snopes shortly...

Crabbi said...

It was a cool magazine. Sassy used to be cool, too. I think I liked it more than my daughter did.

I hope your story found another home!

laura k said...

Sassy was awesome. When they came out, I was super-into trying to write for them, but never got the chance.

The story ran in Seventeen, and everyone felt it was effective - but I knew it had been neutered. It was a very painful experience, and I stopped pitching stories to them after that.

Right now there is very little for teens in between hard-core feminist stuff (which is fab - but it's not for everyone, scares some girls away) and celeb / fashion / beauty crap.

But thank goddess for the internet!