Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
Journal of the 18th Year
Matthew m. Kavanagh
War & Peace
Nicolas J.S. Davies
Eleanor J. Bader
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
The Flores Case
I n the early 1970s Peggy Rom- berg, CEO of the Women Health and Family Planning Association of Texas, heard about women who threw themselves down stairs, douched with lye, and drank bottles of whiskey to induce a miscarriage. Then Roe v. Wade was decided, abortion clinics opened, and Rom- berg shoved these stories to the back of her mind until 2004 when she heard about Erica Basoria and Gerardo Flores.
At the time, both Basoria and Flores were high school students in Lufkin, Texas, a quiet town of 32,000. After dating for a year, Basoria, then 17, became pregnant. According to Ryan Deaton, Flores’s lawyer, “Right away, her mom, sister, and sister-in-law approached her and talked about abortion. There was a time she considered it. Then the Flores family stepped in and said, ‘No, live with us. Have the baby.’ At some point after Erica moved in with them she went back to the doctor and someone in the office put a note in her file stating that she did not believe in abortion.”
An affidavit presented in court explains that as Basoria’s condition became apparent, her thinking changed. “When I was four months pregnant I began to show and at that time I decided that I should have gotten an abortion,” the document states.
She asked her doctor if she could still terminate the pregnancy. Although the cut-off in Texas is 23 weeks, Basoria’s ob-gyn said “she was too far along,” Deaton reports. “This was not true.”
While Basoria remains unavailable to the press, news accounts and court reports reveal that as time went on she became increasingly adamant about ending the pregnancy and took matters into her own hands, punching herself in the stomach and running long distances. When she did not spontaneously abort from these tactics, she enlisted Flores’s help. He complied, repeatedly stomping on her belly.
According to the Houston Press , on the evening of May 6, 2004 Basoria miscarried. Paramedics were called and retrieved two fetuses—Basoria had been carrying twins—from the toilet. Forensic pathologist Dr. Tommy J. Brown subsequently did an autopsy and listed blunt force trauma as the cause of the embryos’ death.
Basoria was taken to a local hospital where personnel noticed bruises on her arms and stomach and called police. During questioning, Basoria told the officers what she and Flores had done. Flores confirmed the story and was charged with two counts of capital murder, a crime punishable by death. In June 2005 Flores, 19, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Basoria was not charged since procuring an abortion, no matter the means, is not illegal.
Peggy Romberg calls the case “a tragedy. These were young kids in trouble. We, as a society, failed them. We don’t provide teenagers with education about sexuality, pregnancy, or disease prevention. We make confidential access to contraception difficult. We’ve created an environment where unintended pregnancy is becoming more prevalent among teens. The lack of information in Texas is astounding. Erica and Gerardo found themselves in crisis. Why didn’t they get the education or services they needed to find a better way out of this?”
Texas has the second highest rate of unplanned teen pregnancy in the U.S. The reasons are obvious. Fewer than 20 of the state’s 254 counties have an abortion provider. Abstinence is the only message public school students hear and the textbook used in sex education classes does not mention contraception or pregnancy. In addition, a slew of restrictions have been imposed. Medicaid does not pay for abortions; there is a 24-hour waiting period between scheduling the surgery and having it; mandatory “counseling” links the procedure with above-average rates of suicide, infertility, and breast cancer; minors must get their parents written consent or see a judge pre-abortion; all procedures performed after the 16th week must take place in a hospital or ambulatory surgery center, increasing the cost.
What’s more, the political climate in Texas is so virulently anti-choice that in 2003 lawmakers changed the definition of person- hood in the penal and civil codes. Governor Rick Perry approved the shift, trumpeting the fact that a fetus is now considered “an individual at every stage of gestation, from fertilization to birth.”
This definition gave rise to the Texas Fetal Protection Law, which makes the injury or death of a fetus during the commission of a crime a capital offense; Geraldo Flores was arrested and convicted under this statute.
“We opposed this legislation,” says Sarah Wheat, Director of Public Affairs at Texas NARAL. “The groups that were pushing for it were all anti-choice. The bill was promoted to protect women from violence, but the violence-against- women groups were not involved.” Almost immediately after the Fetal Protection Law’s passage, she continues, a zealous district attorney in Potter County sent area doctors a letter requiring them to report any pregnant woman suspected of drug or alcohol abuse. Although the attorney general eventually said that this was beyond the scope of the regulation, 15 women were arrested and one was convicted and remains in jail. “The result was to frighten women from seeking prenatal care,” Wheat says. “It did nothing to safeguard them.”
Despite the valiant efforts of NARAL, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, the Women’s Health and Family Planning Association, and other groups, fetal protection laws are enforced in 32 states. Similarly, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act punishes anyone who kills or damages an embryo during the commission of a federal crime. Such laws give Flores the distinction of being the first person found guilty of capital murder where the victim(s) had yet to be born. Attorney Ryan Deaton has submitted a Notice of Appeal to the District Court in Beaumont and is committed to taking the case to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
Despite his efforts, the horror of the situation haunts Deaton. “The appeals could take years,” he admits. “Gerardo has a great family and a lot of support, but he is not doing well. Erica is a very sad person. She lost the love of her life, the person, if it were up to her, she’d be with forever. I am here for Gerardo, but it’s tragic. People should know that fetal protection laws allow situations like this to happen.”
Eleanor Bader is a freelance writer and co-author of Targets of Hatred.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; convention @adc. org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljustice center.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. peacestockvfp.org.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.