May 11, 2004

You need a license to own a dog, right?

At what point do advocacy groups lose sight of the forest? At what point do they become so myopically focused on their issue that they forget that or refuse to acknowledge that there may be limits on whatever right they feel requires a passionate defense?

I am talking here about women's reproductive rights advocates. To be clear, I am not talking about a woman's right to have an abortion or receive reproductive counseling (things which I support).

A Judge in upstate New York has ruled that a couple may not have any more children until they show that they are capable of doing so by regaining custody of the four children of theirs who are currently in the care of the state. Each child, all born since 1998, has tested positive for cocaine at birth. The Judge ruled that this was too much of a burden on the state to continue to care for the children this couple was having. I was surprised to note that the women's reproductive rights groups immediately denounced the decision and vowed to do something about it.

I think the Judge was right and the groups were wrong. One, I do think that the state has the power to regulate behavior. That concept is really beyond cavil. This behavior has an impact on the state, the other children in the state system, and sucks up resources (state and medical) that could be used elsewhere. The state, it seems to me, has a compelling interest in regulating this behavior. Two, what about the children? Studies have shown that children born to mothers who abuse cocaine face significant problems in their lives: lower birth weight; cognitive issues; and physical/health issues. Why don't these groups take into account the lives these future children will face if born to a cocaine abusing mother?

I think you can push the concept of rights just too far. If the judge can fine me for having a dog without a license . . .

Posted by Random Penseur at May 11, 2004 07:24 AM
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