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When she learned that she was carrying a baby with almost no brain and no chance of survival, a devastated young Navy wife from Everett pleaded with a federal court in Seattle to force her military medical program to pay for an abortion.[emphasis mine]
"I could not imagine going through five more months of pregnancy, knowing that the baby will never survive or have any kind of life whatsoever," the woman, then 19, told a federal judge in August 2002. "I understand that even if the baby is born alive, it will probably die after it takes a few breaths. I am really terrified of the prospect of giving birth, then watching the baby die."
She won her case and had the abortion. But more than two years later, the federal government continues to fight her, trying to get the woman and her sailor husband to pay back the $3,000 the procedure cost and trying to cast in stone a ban on government-funded abortions.
The case of Jane Doe. v. the United States will be argued before a federal appeals court next month. Like the Terri Schiavo case in Florida, involving a severely brain-damaged adult, this matter involves questions of what is human life, when can family decide to end it and how far can the government go to block that decision.
Federal lawyers have aggressively appealed the Navy wife's case, often using moral arguments against abortion. The case focuses on the Hyde Amendment regulations, which forbid use of public funds for abortions except if a mother's life is endangered, or in cases of incest or rape -- but not for lethal fetal ailments.
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