[Hpn] Judge orders a drug-addicted mother to have no more children

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sun, 16 May 2004 09:24:35 -0400


www.MercuryNews.com

Sunday  May. 16, 2004

Judge to parents: If you can't raise kids, don't have more

By Ben Dobbin

Associated Press


ROCHESTER, N.Y.

When a drug-addicted homeless woman gave birth last spring, she agreed the
baby should be placed in foster care with her three other children.

A year later, a judge delivered a startling postscript: She ordered the
parents to have no more children until they prove they can look after the
ones they already have.

``All babies deserve more than to be born to parents who have proven they
cannot possibly raise or parent a child,'' Family Court Judge Marilyn
O'Connor wrote.

The mother in question is already pregnant again, relatives say.

The unusual ruling has outraged some civil libertarians; its supporters -- 
including a multitude of radio talk-show callers -- have lauded the attempt
to ensure children are raised in a healthy environment.

The March 31 decision, made public last week, was the first of its kind in
New York. Courts in Wisconsin and Ohio have upheld similar rulings involving
fathers who failed to pay child support. In other states, judges have turned
back attempts to interfere with procreation.

The infant girl's father, Rodney Evers, an admitted cocaine addict,
described O'Connor's judgment as demeaning.
``I can't abide by something like that,'' said Evers, 54. ``I know for a
fact that God said, `Be fruitful and multiply.' This is telling me I have to
be celibate.''

He and the baby's mother -- a 35-year-old identified only as Stephanie -- 
have struggled for years to find work and shelter, and both have admitted in
court to abusing drugs and alcohol. Evers is the father of three of the four
children. The youngest three, ages 4, 2 and 1, tested positive for cocaine
at birth; the eldest is 6.

In the ruling, O'Connor said she was not forcing contraception or
sterilization on the couple and was not requiring the mother to get an
abortion should she become pregnant. But the couple could be jailed for
contempt if they have another child.