Judge Tells Heroin Addict She Can’t Have More Babies After 4th Child Taken From Her Due to Neglect

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Feb 17, 2017   |   12:48PM   |   Rochester, NY

A Rochester, New York judge recently issued a controversial order that a drug-addicted mother not get pregnant again, the Democrat and Chronicle reports.

Family Court Judge Patricia Gallaher ruled in December that the woman, identified only as Brandy F., remain abstinent or use birth control to avoid pregnancy until she is able to show that she is responsible enough to regain custody of her newborn son, according to the report.

According to the court, Brandy F. has had four children taken away from her due to neglect, including her newborn son.

“The testimony in this case clearly established that the mother had little or no prenatal care, that the baby was born prematurely with a positive toxicology for illegal drugs, and that the mother admitted use of illegal drugs during her pregnancy,” Gallaher said in her decision.

The local public defender’s office and the New York Civil Liberties Union both are considering an appeal of the unusual decision, the report states.

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Here’s more from the report:

Gallaher retired at the end of December, and the 27-page decision reads like a salvo from a judge disturbed and dispirited by what she witnessed as a judge and previously a legal assistant in Family Court. And, she wrote, the epidemic of heroin in the community has led to more severe and frequent cases of parental neglect than in years past.

“This court has seen about a half dozen seemingly ‘nice couples’ show up as respondents in neglect cases where both are addicted to heroin and literally throwing their lives away — and the lives of their children — in just this year,” Gallaher wrote.

The Dec. 27 decision is now over a month old, but is making ripples in legal circles where possible appeals are being weighed.

According to court testimony, Brandy F.’s baby boy was born prematurely at 29 weeks in July 2016 and spent more than a month in the hospital after showing signs of drug withdrawal. Brandy F. admitted to using illegal drugs while pregnant, according to the court testimony. The baby’s father is unknown, according to the court.

Planned Parenthood opposed a similar ruling in 2004 by a judge who Gallaher once worked for as a clerk, according to the report.

“The implications of this condition are far-reaching,” the abortion group, NYCLU and others wrote in a brief appealing the 2004 ruling. “It would permit unprecedented state intrusion into private decisions concerning reproductive health.”

The order also could be a possible concern for some pro-lifers. With abortion being pushed so often, one cannot help but wonder about the possibility of the woman getting pregnant again and choosing to abort her unborn child rather than face punishment for violating the order.