by Steven Ertelt
January 5, 2005
Rochester, NY (LifeNews.com) — A family court judge who gained national attention last year in a similar case has told a drug-addicted mother of seven not to have any more children until she can prove she is able to care for the kids the has. However, the judge ruled out using abortion as method of birth control.
The mother, known only as Judgette W. in court papers, lost custody of her children through various child neglect hearings since 2000. The kids range in ages from eight months to 12 years old.
As a result of the various cases, six of Judgette’s children are in foster care and one lives with an aunt. Three, including the newborn, named Victoria, have tested positive for cocaine.
In the latest hearing, Judge Marilyn O’Connor said that Judgette, described as a homeless prostitute, "could not and did not" take care of the children.
"Because every child born deserves a mother and a father, or at the very least a mother or a father, this court is once again taking this unusual step of ordering this biological mother to conceive no more children until she reclaims her children from foster care or other caretakers," O’Connor wrote.
"A ‘no-more-children’ order may help [Judgette] get Victoria back," O’Connor wrote concerning the youngest child. "More importantly, it may help Victoria get her mother back."
She said she was not requiring the woman to use contraception or obtain an abortion should she become pregnant, but warned that Judgette would be jailed if she had another child.
Judge O’Conner did require the county health department to provide Judgette information on family planning.
The ruling has brought O’Connor nationwide attention again and produce a firestorm of controversy in Rochester. The local newspaper, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, has been filled with letters to the editor — most of them applauding the judge’s decision.
"I think Judge O’Connor is on the money," one reader writes. "Although completely breaking this cycle of child neglect seems unattainable… With any luck (and I know it may be a stretch) this could be a motivating factor for ‘Judgette W’ to get clean and take responsibility for her life and children."
Some writers who favored the opinion said the woman should be forced to use birth control or wear a birth control patch. Others say the decision is good because of concerns of overpopulation.
However, another Rochester resident wrote, "My thoughts are that yes the women clearly can not take care of her children, but she also has the right to have children."
In a similar ruling last March, Judge O’Connor ordered another drug-addicated mother to not bear children until she was able to prove she could proper care for the ones she had.
Similar rulings in other states have not been upheld and O’Connor’s decision is being appealed.