Expecting Trouble: Surrogacy, Fetal Abuse, and New Reproductive Technologies

By Patricia Boling | Go to book overview

7
The ACLU Philosophy and
the Right to Abuse the Unborn

PHILLIP E. JOHNSON

A 1984 CALIFORNIA COURT DECISION provides a good example of the appropriate role and inherent limits of the criminal law in maternal child abuse cases. The defendant in People v. Pointer1 adhered to an extremely rigorous macrobiotic diet and imposed it upon her young children, ignoring the protests of their father and the repeated advice of physicians that the diet was permanently damaging the health of the children. When the younger child was near death a doctor finally called the police, who took the infant boy to the hospital where his life was saved by emergency procedures. During the enforced hospitalization the mother surreptitiously brought her son unsuitable food despite warnings not to do so and continued to breast-feed him even after being told that her milk contained high levels of sodium that endangered his health.

The boy was placed in a foster home. The mother was allowed to visit and used the opportunity to abduct the child because she did not like the idea of his "getting fat." She took him and her older boy to Puerto Rico, where she continued to provide both with an inadequate diet until authorities brought the family back to California. There medical examinations showed that the older brother was seriously underdeveloped and the younger one had suffered severe growth retardation and permanent neurological damage.

The mother was convicted of willful child endangerment, a felony punishable by up to four years imprisonment, and placed on probation. The conditions of probation were that she serve a year in the county jail; that she participate in an appropriate counseling program; that she lose custody of the children and have no unsupervised visits with them; and that she not conceive another child during the five-year probationary period. The mother appealed the last condition

-135-

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Expecting Trouble: Surrogacy, Fetal Abuse, and New Reproductive Technologies
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • Notes 7
  • 2 - The Tailor-Made Child: Implications for Women and the State 9
  • Notes 19
  • References 21
  • 3 - Fetal Personhood: Political Identity Under Construction 25
  • Notes 44
  • References 51
  • 4 - Fetal Endangerment Versus Fetal Welfare: Discretion of Prosecutors in Determining Criminal Liability 55
  • Notes 75
  • References 79
  • 5 - A Gender Analysis of Policy Formation: the Case of Fetal Abuse 85
  • Notes 103
  • References 104
  • 6 - Punishment, Treatment, Empowerment: Three Approaches to Policy for Pregnant Addicts 109
  • Notes 126
  • References 131
  • 7 - The Aclu Philosophy and the Right to Abuse the Unborn 135
  • Notes 140
  • 8 - The Trope of the Dark Continent in the Fetal Harm Debates: "Africanism" and the Right to Choice' 142
  • Notes 152
  • 9 - "Surrogate Mothering" and Women's Freedom: a Critique of Contracts for Human Reproduction 156
  • Notes 171
  • References 174
  • 10 - The "Gift" of a Child: Commercial Surrogacy, Gift Surrogacy, and Motherhood 177
  • Notes 196
  • References 200
  • About the Contributors 203
  • About the Book 205
  • Index 207
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