Federal Agents' Restraint and Psychological Torture of Pregnant Immigrant Women

©Copyright 2011 by Paula J. Caplan All rights reserved

"The Supreme Court has just told women that they are second-class citizens," said my mother, Tac Karchmer Caplan, who turned 88 last Saturday. What occasioned her statement a few months ago was the United States Supreme Court's refusal to declare that women constituted a class of people who could proceed with a lawsuit based on the serious sex discrimination to which they have clearly been subjected.

Now comes new evidence that some women in this country are treated as third-class citizens or even worse. Much worse, in fact. In Texas and Arizona, some pregnant, immigrant women who have been arrested for nothing more violent or disturbing than driving a car without a license are being shackled while in labor (http://www.nationofchange.org/undocumented-pregnant-women-forced-give-bi...). The fathers of their babies were in some cases not allowed in the room while the women were giving birth. This amounts to psychological torture.

If you try to think what possible reason there could be for the immigration authorities to take such actions, it is immediately clear that "sexism" is inadequate to describe their motivations. "Hatred of women" is more appropriate. We should be ashamed that this happens in the United States. What was it that George W. Bush said to justify his "war on terror"? Didn't he say that the terrorists hate us because of our freedom? What are agents of our federal government doing to these pregnant, laboring, immigrant women during a time when they should have all the freedom they need to bring new life into this world and to fill with joy?

Now that the word is out, what will the government do to stop this inhuman treatment of women?

About the Author

Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D.

Paula J. Caplan, Ph.D., a clinical and research psychologist, is an associate at Harvard University's DuBois Institute and former fellow in Harvard Kennedy School's Women and Public Policy Program.

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