Imagine being told by the courts that you are not allowed to have any more children – if you do have another biological child, you will go to jail. Sound like you’re living in some repressive third world country? Well, it’s happening right here in the U.S., and based on results from a recent VeraQuest omnibus survey, the majority of Americans support these types of court rulings.
Recently an Ohio appeals court upheld a ruling against a 35 year old man that forbids him from having any more children while he’s on probation for the next 5 years, unless he pays nearly $100,000 in overdue child support for his current kids. (He currently has four children, with four different women.) If he violates the terms of his probation, he could go to jail for one year. Four-out-of-five Americans (81%) support the court’s ruling in this case.
And then there’s the 27-year-old Virginia man who allegedly fathered seven children with six different women and recently agreed to a plea deal in a child endangerment case that requires that he get a vasectomy (at his own expense), in exchange for a reduction of up to five years of his prison term. This was part of his sentencing for child endangerment, hit and run, and driving on a suspended license charges related to a crash in which police say his 3-year-old son was bloodied but not seriously hurt. The Assistant Prosecutor in the case said that the vasectomy component of the plea deal is to prevent him from fathering more children, because “he needs to be able to support the children he already has when he gets out”. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans support the use of a vasectomy as part of a plea deal in a case such as this.
In both cases, support for the court rulings comes from both Democrats and Republicans, younger and older adults, males and females, parents and non-parents, lower income and higher income households, and so on. Perhaps to varying degrees in some cases, but there is more support than opposition among all American demographic groups.
For me personally, I don’t think that government should be involved in people’s reproductive rights overall; however, I do like the idea of “deadbeat dads” being forbidden to have more kids until they pay their overdue child support. They shouldn’t be allowed to bring more kids into the world if they’ve already proven they truly cannot take care of them. The vasectomy plea deal is a tougher one to digest since the guy needs to have a surgical procedure done in order to keep up his end of the plea deal, but I am generally on-board with those convicted of child endangerment types of crimes not being allowed to have more kids.
When asked about their more general stance on the topic, the vast majority of Americans (80%) support the courts having power/control over the reproductive rights of criminals who are convicted of crimes related to the harming of a child (e.g., physical abuse, sexual abuse, etc.). And more than two-thirds (69%) support the courts having power/control over the reproductive rights of “deadbeat dads” (or moms) who are significantly overdue on child support payments. That said, nearly three-quarters (73%) go on to express concern that giving courts the power to dictate who can and cannot have kids is a “slippery slope”, which may eventually go too far.
In what types of legal situations do you feel it’s ok for courts to forbid someone from reproducing, if at all? If these types of rulings/punishments were to become more pervasive in our country, how effective do you think they would be at preventing child-related crimes?