Can a Judge Order Me Not to Get Pregnant?

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A judge in New York recently ordered a woman who’s addicted to drugs not to get pregnant.

While no one would argue that someone with an extreme drug problem should get pregnant, there are complex issues involved in ordering someone not to conceive from the bench.

The woman at the core of this issue is the mother of four and has struggled with alcohol, cocaine, and meth problems for years. Family Court Judge Patricia Gallagher ordered that she not get pregnant until she has been successfully reunited with one of the four kids – her son.

How Does This Ruling Affect Society?

This woman is often the image of someone who is hooked on drugs – the typical image that gets splashed around social media in hopes of scaring people into abstinence. Her oldest son was found playing with hypodermic needles. She’s worked as a prostitute. Three of her children were born addicted to drugs. It would be hard to argue that she should have another child, but is ordering a woman not to get pregnant an intrusion on women’s reproductive freedom? That’s a tough question.

Women’s rights advocates argue that the government would be better off helping women take care of basic needs, both physical and mental, than regulating their reproductive systems. However, others argue that mandating a woman not get pregnant is like mandating drug treatment.

The severity of the opioid crisis makes for an even more relevant argument, particularly among those who believe preventing substance abusers from getting pregnant is one of the only ways to stop the cycle of babies being born addicted, poverty, crime, and more drug use.

What Do You Think?

Every day, about 92 people die from an overdose. And in rural areas of the nation, babies are being born addicted in record-breaking numbers. With so many chemically dependent people passing through our court systems, judges are finding themselves in the middle of this epidemic. Most recently a judge in Ohio offered Vivitrol – an opioid-antagonist that makes it impossible to get high – to female drug offenders as a way to avoid jail.

So, how do you feel about this issue? Does the right of a woman to control her own fertility trump the nation’s concern about the opioid epidemic? Should judges be allowed to step in and prevent women from having babies while addicted to drugs? Sound off in the comments section below!




Image Source: iStock

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