Woman Accused of Killing Toddler Allowed to Nurse Newborn

A 20-year-old California woman accused of killing a toddler is going to be allowed access to the child she birthed at the beginning of the month even though she's still being held awaiting trial.

Megan Martzen stands accused of killing 18-month-old Ella Joy Vanleeuwen in February of 2009 while she was babysitting for her. The toddler died of blunt force trauma to the head and body and now, even though little Ella's parents are left without their child, Martzen will be allowed to nurse her son.

When the Fresno County Child Protective Services sought to take custody of Martzen's newborn infant son after he was born two weeks ago at a Fresno hospital, the lawyers met and reached a deal: she would be allowed to see her son and nurse him, albeit not care for him 24 hours a day.


Apparently, breast is best in all circumstances, even when the mother stands accused of killing a very young child.

Martzen is at home on $2 million bail still awaiting her trial. She hasn't been convicted. It makes sense.

On the other hand, a baby is dead, a baby who might be alive and happy if she were not under Martzen's care. In the interest of protecting children, it seems only natural that the infant be taken from his mother.

If she's innocent, that's a shame, but wouldn't the more troubling shame come if she hurts her new baby?

In general, social workers don't have to wait until a person is convicted of a crime to seek custody of a child if they suspect the child could be harmed or in danger, Fresno attorney Howard Watkins told the Fresno Bee 

If she's found innocent, she will lose months of crucial bonding time with her son and will not have had the opportunity to breastfeed him.

There is no "fair" answer. No matter what happens, someone gets the shaft. But in this case, unfortunately, someone has to look out for the infant and protect him. Unfortunately, it seems like erring on the side of safety might be the only way to go. The baby should be with a foster family until his mother is deemed innocent or convicted.

It's very sad, no matter how it goes.

Should this woman get to nurse?

Image via TheMinnieMoo/Flickr

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