Not Everyone Deserves to Be a Parent

pregnantYou hear it said all the time: "People should have to take a test to become a parent." It's not legal or really even practical. But it's said enough that when a judge tells the father of an abused child that he'd like to take away his right to make another baby, I get it.

Of course, Judge David Ticehurst can't actually require Jordain Palmer be sterilized, even though the British dad did nothing as girlfriend Melissa Phillips beat their 14-month-old daughter within an inch of her life. He's tied by the laws of the land, and the court of public opinion will tell you that taking away a person's right to procreate is a return to a dark day when governments sterilized people against their will.

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Sadly, I get that too. I'm pro-choice after all.

And yet, since becoming a parent, I've become even more convinced that there should be lines drawn in the sand, people refused the right to procreate. Years as a journalist and now a blogger reporting on the horrific crimes committed against children have convinced me of that. Some will say I've gotten hard. I call it realistic.

I know what it's like to rise each morning and care for my child. I know what it's like to have her drive me absolutely batty, and to carry on in a loving manner. I know it's possible to not give in to your base urges and hurt a helpless child. Like most people, normal people, I get that parenting is a hard job. And doing it for the past six years, I also understand it's not for everyone.

I'm all for people opting out because they know it's best for them. I'm pro-choice in part because I know it can be the better option for people who have no means to care for or even carry a child responsibly. It's a protection not simply for the people, but for this potential life.

What I have a hard time with is the people who don't know their limits, the creeps who get pregnant, give birth, and then hurt that child. They should know that they don't belong in the parenting game, but they don't.

A parenting license isn't practical. It's not legal. But something has to give. Somehow we need to find a way to put the needs of children to be protected from evil ahead of the rights of adults to procreate as they please.

How ironic is it that we tell Michael Vick he can't ever again have a dog because he has been convicted of abusing animals, but we can't do the same for human children? That child abusers are allowed the right to procreate again and again, putting more children in danger? Shouldn't there be a similar "one strike, you're out" rule, built on the same concept that the convicted is a proven threat?

Drafting laws about this may be too difficult, putting this in the hands of the courts too complex, but here's what I hope: that one day people will stop looking at parenting as a right and start looking at it as a privilege. Because as our parents teach us when we're kids, privileges come with responsibilities. And just like we lost our bicycles when we were irresponsible and left them on the driveway or that ice cream after dinner when we refused to eat our vegetables, the grown-up privilege to procreate should carry a harsh penalty when it's mistreated. Maybe even the total loss of the privilege.

Do you feel that pregnancy is a privilege? Do you think child abusers should be banned from having more kids? 

 

Image via www.photographybyjoelle.com/Flickr

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