Back to All Press Release

Update On The Challenge To Rochester Family Court Judge’s Order Prohibiting Women From Getting Pregnant, In Re Bobbijean P.

A family court judge in Monroe County (Rochester, NY) ruled in a child neglect proceeding that Stephanie P., the mother of Bobbijean P., was prohibited from getting pregnant unless and until she regained custody of all her children who were in the foster care system. Citing Stephanie’s alleged history of drug problems and her poverty, the Family Court stated that her right to have children was outweighed by society’s right not to have to support her children. Neither Stephanie nor the father of Bobbijean was present at the hearing, nor did either have an attorney present to represent their interests.
On October 18, 2004, the NYCLU and the National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), representing nine public health, child welfare and human rights advocacy organizations and a leading expert in drug treatment, filed an amicus brief in support of Stephanie P.’s motion to vacate the March 31 decision. The brief claims that the pregnancy prohibition violates a woman’s constitutional right to privacy and, specifically, her right to procreate under the United States and New York Constitutions.

The Amici further argue that the Court’s radical decision effectively creates a financial means test for procreation, as the judge cited the amount of public money spent to raise foster children as the basis for her decision. The brief also condemns the order as dangerous to the welfare of both women and children, and suggests that it would deflect attention from the need for meaningful family assistance services. Finally, the brief argued that the order violated Stephanie’s due process rights, as neither Stephanie nor a legal representative was present at the hearing to contest the procreation ban.

On January 10, 2005, Family Court judge Marilyn O’Connor denied Stephanie P.’s motion to vacate the March 31, 2004 decision, and attorneys for Stephanie P. filed a motion to appeal on January 20, 2005. The RRP continues to work closely with Stephanie’s attorneys at the Monroe County Public Defenders Office in preparing the appeal.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
© 2024 New York
Civil Liberties Union