(Slate) -- Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address was stuffed with inspiring anecdotes, mostly about little boys, flags, military personnel, MS-13—standard State of the Union stuff. And then there was the very bizarre story that, if you happened to be only half-listening, kind of sounded like it glorified a police officer for stealing somebody’s baby.
“The most difficult challenges bring out the best in America,” Trump said as he introduced Ryan and Rebecca Holets, a couple from New Mexico. Trump explained that 27-year-old Ryan, an Albuquerque police officer, saw a pregnant homeless woman about to inject heroin. He stopped her and told her she was “going to harm her unborn child,” Trump said. “She told him she didn’t know where to turn. But badly wanted a safe home for her baby.” Ryan apparently showed the woman a photo of his wife and four children, convinced her to allow him and Rebecca to adopt her fetus, and got Rebecca on board. They named the baby, who attended but slept through much of Trump’s address, Hope.
This is far from the kind of feel-good anecdote that usually plays well in political speeches, mostly because it’s not clear whether anyone should feel good about it. For one thing, the power dynamics of the Holets’ situation are cause for concern: A woman in dire poverty who’s just been caught by a cop with illegal drugs is not in a position, free from undue pressure, to willingly surrender custody to her fetus. Sure, the agreement might have gone down above board, with appropriate discussion, social-services support, and legal representation for both parties. But without any more details than what Trump offered, it’s hard to imagine a cop asking a pregnant woman with a needle in her hand for the rights to her forthcoming child without some degree of coercion.
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