At the request of an Oklahoma court, a mother of seven has been sterilized as part of a judge's order, setting a damning precedent in the process.
Summer Thyme Creel, 34, had the procedure in November after the judge wrote he could consider it at her sentencing if she chose to do so.
Although the procedure was "voluntary," the court order to do so crosses some ominous barriers. In spite of the fact that it is described as “voluntary,” it stretches the definition of that term by putting Creel in the position of bartering her fertility for leniency in her sentencing.
Last year, this practice gained national attention when it was applied to prisoners. In exchange for undergoing a sterilization procedure, prisoners were given shorter sentences. However, as the ACLU pointed out at the time, this program is deceptive and even unconstitutional.
“Offering a so-called ‘choice’ between jail time and coerced contraception or sterilization is unconstitutional,” Tennessee ACLU head Hedy Weinberg wrote in a statement. “Such a choice violates the fundamental constitutional right to reproductive autonomy and bodily integrity by interfering with the intimate decision of whether and when to have a child, imposing an intrusive medical procedure on individuals who are not in a position to reject it.”
Now, it appears, that the program has evolved from the prison and moved into the court.
Quite frankly, Creel is no model citizen. She is a repeat check forger and her addiction to methamphetamine is so severe that she admitted to using the drug while pregnant. However, bringing in the issue of sterilization as a factor in Creel's sentencing crosses a major line and is reminiscent of America's dark history.
Eugenics, the 'science' of attempting to improve a human population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics, is a dark stain on humanity's past.
While most people associate it with Adolf Hitler and his movement to create a supreme race in Nazi Germany, the fact is that eugenics sciences began in the 1860s. By Hitler's time, it was a consensus among many that the human population could be improved through selective breeding and the horrific treatment of people deemed 'inferior' by science.
Eugenics laws in the early twentieth century resulted in the forced sterilization of over 64,000 people in the United States. At first, sterilization efforts focused on those with disabilities but later grew to include people whose only “crime” was poverty. These sterilization programs even found legal support in the great Supreme Court (Buck v. Bell 1927).
According to Edwin Black's historical account of the Eugenics movement, California’s program was so robust that the Nazi’s turned to California for advice in perfecting their own efforts. Hitler proudly admitted to following the laws of several American states that allowed for the prevention of reproduction of the “unfit.”
The precedent being set in Oklahoma with Creel's case is so damning that even the prosecutor is urging the judge to not consider her sterilization as a factor at sentencing.
"Creel not only has a fundamental constitutional right to procreate ... but she admits that she had an interest in an elective sterilization procedure even before the court's order of June 16," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Perry told the judge in a sentencing memo, according to New OK.
"Furthermore, Creel's decision to have (or not have) additional children is sufficiently removed from the type of criminal activity involved in this case that such a factor is irrelevant to determining a sentence," the prosecutor wrote.
But the judge, apparently ignorant of the history of such practices, disagrees.
"By virtue of a series of relationships with various sires over approximately the last 14 years, Ms. Creel has given birth to seven children out of wedlock," the judge wrote in the June order.
In the court order, the judge clearly laid out his request, noting that at her sentencing she "may, if (and only if) she chooses to do so, present medical evidence to the court establishing that she has been rendered incapable of procreation."
As was stated above, the fact that it is voluntary—but conditional to her sentencing—is where the line is crossed. Americans should be wary of where this path leads and this practice should be stopped immediately.