Here is a court decision that I do not care for.† This took place in Madison, Wisconsin, and the State Supreme Court in Wisconsin ruled that a father of nine could not have any more children unless and until he proved to the Courtís satisfaction that he could support the previous nine children along with the new child.†
This matter began in the Manitowoc County Circuit Court in Wisconsin where one David Oakley was sentenced to three years in prison for failing to pay $25,000.00 in child support.† Thatís fine, I have no problem with that.
Mr. Oakley was also convicted of two other counts of failing to pay child support, and was given an eight-year suspended prison sentence.† In lieu of the prison sentence, Mr. Oakley was placed on five years probation; one of the terms and conditions being that he father no more children.† Mr. Oakley did not agree to this as a condition of probation.† It was imposed on him.†
If David Oakley fathers another child and cannot support that child, he can once again be prosecuted for failing to pay child support, and can be given a significant prison sentence.† In other words, there is a remedy available to the justice system if Mr. Oakley continues to break the law.† I would suggest that a new prosecution would be far more appropriate than banning an individual from having children until he proves he can pay for that child.
I understand what the Court wishes to accomplish; I just donít think the Court is going about it in the right way.† Is Mr. Oakley supposed to avoid sexual encounters?† What if he were to engage in a sexual encounter, and the protection did not work?† What if that led to Mr. Oakley impregnating a woman; wouldnít there then be a great deal of pressure put on the mother-to-be by Mr. Oakley to terminate the pregnancy?† I cannot imagine that those who are ďpro-lifeĒ would favor this decision.†
Under this ruling, it is apparently not OK if Mr. Oakley fathers a child and the mother gives the child up at birth.† This once again would lead Mr. Oakley and his female friend to strongly consider abortion.† I can also imagine a scenario in which the impregnated woman could use the fact that she was impregnated by Mr. Oakley as a way of blackmailing him to get him to do certain things for her under threat of her telling the court she is about to become a mother and that Mr. Oakley is the father.
In a nutshell, I think† this decision is fraught with peril.† It appears clear that Mr. Oakley is not exactly a responsible individual, and the three-year prison term sounds appropriate.† My recommendation, however, would be that if Mr. Oakley breaks the law again, he be prosecuted as a repeat offender, and if convicted, sentenced appropriately rather than have the Wisconsin State Supreme Court ban him from further fatherhood.
Charlie Unger is a criminal defense attorney in the Glendale law firm of Flanagan, Unger, Danis & Grover, and a psychotherapist at the Foothill Centre for Personal and Family Development.† Mr. Unger writes a bimonthly column on legal and psychological issues.† He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.