Judge rules that couple can have no more children

A woman who has four children in foster care was ordered not to have any more until she can take care of them. (Turns out she was pregnant again by the time the ruling happened!)

I certainly understand where the judge is coming from. This couple should not have any more children. However, must not? Can the courts endorce that order? And without taking any kind of preventative action, can they enforce it all? Here’s what the judge said:

“In a March 31 ruling made public last week, the judge 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.”

The two costs to consider here are the costs to society of caring for these children temporarily (and probably permanently) and the cost to the children who will most likely have a more difficult time growing up in foster care and homeless shelters than they would have had they been born to more stable, well off parents. Balancing those two issues is very difficult. Whether children in this situation are better off with their parents or better off with others is a highly debated situation. Is the parents’ situation temporary (and foster care is justified) or is it permanent in which case the best thing for the children might be to be adopted by someone looking for children to love?

I think the correct “punishment” for failing to agree with the judge’s ruling would be to have the next baby put up for immediate adoption. (Especially if the mother continues her drug usage while pregnant, a serious abuse to the child.) However, that ruling implies so much power to the courts that it has serious, scary implications to our society.