Dallas Teenager Deserves Compassion, Not Prosecution


Dallas police believe a teenager gave birth in a restroom stall at Woodrow Wilson High School last Friday. In the ensuing media flurry, local news outlets have included the following statements or quotes in their reports:

It was after 6 p.m. when Dallas police carried the tiny body out in a black duffle bag, placing it carefully in the back of an ambulance … Police say they don’t know how far along the mother’s pregnancy may have been, but they want to know the circumstances of how it ended. (CBS DFW)

Students and staff at the high school will be offered counseling services. Police are, of course, encouraging anyone who knows who abandoned the fetus to contact the Dallas Police Department. (TheBlaze)

The bathroom is being treated as a crime scene, the [Dallas Independent School] district said. (ABC WFAA)

“We’re reviewing video, talking to the teachers, trying to determine if anybody has any knowledge of any student that may have had something going on in their life, and pray,” said Major John Lawton with the Dallas Police Department. (Fox 4 KDFW)

[Dallas Police] are reviewing video and will speak with teachers and students in hopes of finding something that will lead them to the “suspect”—[Lawton] did use the word suspect, and when asked if she would be charged with a crime once she was located, he would not elaborate. (Lakewood Advocate)

I have not read any coverage of this story that has indicated an interest in the teenager’s well-being, or in pointing out the systemic failures that may have played a fundamental role in these events. Nor have any officials or media representatives mentioned any attempts to identify the person who impregnated the teenager, whether to hold them equally responsible or to offer them assistance.

Although it is possible that the teenager did not know of the pregnancy—children and adolescents who become pregnant can often ignore, deny, or misinterpret the symptoms of pregnancy, even late into gestation—until passing the fetus in the restroom stall, police and school district authorities appear to be working from the assumption that the fetus was criminally (intentionally or negligently) abandoned. After all, officials have urged anyone who knows who the teenager is—using the word “suspect”—to provide information that will assist their investigation.

Beyond the implied punitive framework, referring to the teenager as “mother” also unjustly creates a context that can only harm the adolescent, as does reporting that the “tiny body” was removed from the school and placed “carefully” in an ambulance. Major Lawton’s euphemistic and incoherent statement, too, encourages no confidence in the way involved adults will handle this teenager’s future. All students “have something going on” in their lives, and prayer is a poor substitute for an assurance that the teenager will not be prosecuted and that, more importantly, the blame for what happened most likely lies with our state government.

I do not mean to dismiss the trauma experienced by students and staff, but too much focus has been placed on the spectacle of this fetus, and far too little on several real tragedies: that Texas provides no sex education (an abstinence-only curriculum does not qualify as education); has the highest uninsured rate in the nation yet has repeatedly cut funds for family planning; and has enacted restrictions on abortion so severe that one million women of reproductive age now live farther than 100 miles from an abortion clinic. Minors who seek an abortion must also have proof of parental notification and consent, or must obtain a judicial bypass.

These and other barriers have shaped an increasingly rigid and discriminatory reproductive health-care system in Texas. That is the crime scene here, and that should be the focus of the conversation. And authorities and officials should only be offering the teenager compassion, health care, and protection.

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  • eroteme

    Despicable misogynist assholes.

  • StealthGaytheist

    “The Handmaid’s Tale” was a warning, not a manual.

  • fiona64

    And that’s to say nothing of the fact that other outlets have already reported that this young woman had a miscarriage.

    But yes, Governor Goodhair and his anti-choice cronies can thank themselves for this unfortunate situation.

    • Ella Warnock

      There are those in Texas who still believe Marlise Munoz’s doomed fetus was perfectly formed and normally developing but was ‘killed’ out of selfishness and for conveeeenience. These same people in the face of all the evidence that this was a miscarriage will still believe that wicked s!oot purposefully aborted the fetus. Because that’s the only worldview hate and lack of empathy allow them to have.

      When in doubt – and when you’ve no clue of the actual circumstances – just blame the wh0re and ASSume the worst. It’s the good christian way, doncha know.

      • eroteme

        A despicable poster on SPL (ockraz) had the gall to compare Marlise Munoz to…a fishbowl!

        Yes, she = fishbowl, and she just need to be fed to keep the glorious goldfish (fetus) alive

        /shakes fist

        • Ella Warnock

          As I referred to in my answer to Everybodhi below, note the huge emotional payoff in coming up with new and fun dehumanizing terms for women.

        • Arekushieru

          Obtw, I was trying to remember where I heard that name, ockraz. But I believe I saw him on The Guardian complaining about Jessica Valenti’s request for free tampons and other products for menstruation. A real ‘sweetheart’ that one is, there.

          • eroteme

            Yes, he also said, in regards to the uterine lining, that “the bed is made”

            Ughhhh.

          • Arekushieru

            Hey, do you ever read any Science Daily?

          • eroteme

            Only for citations.
            I read Discover magazine regularly tho.

  • lady_black

    I like how you think. Unfortunately I can no longer help out, having had a hysterectomy seven years ago. Ladies, you know what to do.

  • Everybodhi

    If they cared so much about aborted “babees”, they would be raising funds and awareness for all the spontaneous abortions, which are far more prevalent than medical abortions.
    There haven’t been many studies done on spontaneous abortion and how to prevent it, they need funding.
    I understand some men and women just love other people’s birthing and their unborn so why aren’t they raising funds for studies on the women that spontaneously abort blastocysts, zygotes or embryos that want to gestate?
    It’s like the MRA’s that fight against women’s funding for shelters or breast cancer instead of raising funds for the causes they care about.
    There are so many women out there that want to give birth and cannot, I don’t understand why those that love all the world’s women’s unborn so much don’t spend their time constructively and help those that actually want help gestating.

    • Ella Warnock

      Can’t s!ut shame those women, so where’s the fun for a forced birther in that? It’s all about the emotional payoff in calling a woman the vilest of names.

    • lady_black

      Because miscarriages (particularly early miscarriages) and non-implanting blastocysts happen for a reason. They stop developing because something is wrong with them, and the mother’s body rejects them. I don’t WANT them to “do something about it.” Now SOMETIMES a medical condition such as PCOS can cause repeated miscarriages due to poor progesterone production, and that’s easily treated. My sister had repeated miscarriages until I finally explained what was going on with her and she had to take progesterone vaginal suppositories during her early pregnancies in order to maintain the pregnancy. But someone with a medical issue will have a history of early miscarriage. Those which occur sporadically are due to embryo or fetal issues, and they shouldn’t attempt to save those, and I’m not even sure it’s possible to do so.

      • eroteme

        I always learn from your posts. Ty.

        Question:

        Are c sections quite rough? Doesn’t the baby have to be tugged out with a fair amount of force?

        • lady_black

          I was asleep for my first C-section. For my second one I had an epidural. There was no pain, but I did feel the tugging and it felt like my entire lower body was being yanked upward when they were delivering the baby, so yes, I’d say it’s pretty rough.

          • eroteme

            Interesting. BB was arguing that the amniotic sac would not break during a c section because she is under the impression that its gentle. The ignoramus.

          • lady_black

            They break it. The incision is NOT big enough to fit the fetus intact in the amniotic sac through. She IS an idiot, and no it’s not gentle and neither is vaginal delivery.

          • Nessie

            Isn’t the amniotic sac supposed to break so that the baby can breathe?

          • eroteme