The Instigator
Pro (for)
2 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Should Child Abusers and Drug addicted Mothers be sterilized?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/28/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 9,889 times Debate No: 8015
Debate Rounds (4)
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Votes (1)




Should parents who beat, possibly kill, their children be allowed to procriate, and in some States where it is legal for legislators to remove the fetus of unborn babies from drug addicted mothers (in the hopes of saving them) should they too be allowed to have children? How many times does a woman have a fetus removed before the State put a stop to her pregnancies, and what happens to the children who are saved?

My purpose for this is really to get the views and opinions of others, whether pro or con, it would help for further research that I am focusing on-


I thank my opponent for this interesting topic, and I hope we have a great debate.

I would like to first start off by asking my opponent which states and state laws he refers to in his resolution. I have as of yet to find any laws on the books about forced abortion in cases of drug addiction, though I wish to learn more.

In my own personal opinion, I find such a prospect appalling. I do realize the merits of such a program but I have yet to be convinced that this is not a violation of several human rights and legal laws. I will make my argument based on three key points: Human rights, state law and eugenics.

1. Human Rights
Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:
"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."
The state does not have the right to force sterilization on child abusers and drug-addicted mothers without their consent. Whether or not they are a risk to their child or children, this is a fundamental human right that cannot be revoked even in these cases. It is as simple as that.

2. State Law
I will first talk about the status of drug-addicted mothers in law.

a) being a drug-addict is not an offense, as prosecuting it is a violation of the 8th Amendment;
b) a fetus is not recognized as a "person", and therefore a mother cannot endanger its life, nor can prosecutors charge that a mother is "trafficking drugs to a minor"

These two legal facts negate that a mother who uses drug must be sterilized in order to protect any future children. The plethora of other options, including drug rehab and counselling, are by far more successful and will not violate someone's inherent human rights. For my second point, recognizing the fetus as a person will create a situation that will criminalize abortion and lead to other very serious legal complications. Currently. abortion is legal in the US, noting the fact that a fetus is not a person, and forcing sterilization on women will violate this legality.
It is also critical to note that a drug addiction can be overcome, but if sterilization is enforced it will only pave the way for thousands of lawsuits against the government.

Child abusers of course do not have the same protection under law as a drug-addicted woman does. This is why we have created such institutions as the Children and Youth Services (CYS). These institutions are there to safeguard and protect children from abusive parents, yet there is rarely enough support or funding to make this agency effective. Under law the CYS has the right to rescue and protect children from child abusers, but this does not affect the offender's personal human rights. This along with effective counselling and justice legislation is a far more effective way to combat child abuse than forced sterilization.
As with my argument for drug-addicted mothers, child abusers may learn to control their actions and reform themselves, but forced sterilization will only infringe on their rights, paving the way for millions, if not billions, of dollars lost by the government in lawsuits.

3. Eugenics
Forced sterilization is what it is: eugenics. To define eugenics:
"a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed"

While the intention of sterilization may not be to breed out certain characteristics from the human gene pool, it has that unfortunate side-effect. Eugenics is a banned practice, one that the Nazis used on Jews, homosexuals and blacks in order to create the 'master race', not to mention former Canadian and American eugenics practices, which I may elaborate on later in this debate. There is unfortunately not enough remaining characters to explain in depth right now.

I await my
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my oponent for his or her response as well.

I am aware of the term eugenics, hence the reason I am having this debate, to determine whether this is on the verge of an ethical dillema, or a justification to the "rights of parenting"

" The State has forced blood transfusions on pregnant women... the State argues that the viable fetus must be protected and it's welfare takes precedence over the mother's wishes (Gustavsson, MacHearon/ Criminalizing Women's Behavior)

In a further case, "In one especially sad case, the court ordered a cesarean section over the objections of a terminally ill women." (same source as above)

So to answer your question, these things are occurring, unfortunately I don't have the specific States, but I will do further research.

In one such example, the State was forcing screening on women after given a choice to either eliminate their drug addiction or have their baby removed. The fetus is not killed and doctors make a desperate attempt to save the baby. The reason for this is with the attempt of saving the fetus from the mother. Abortion I am in support of, but more often than ever the mother's will refuse abortion, and in some sad instances will use having a child to earn aid from the State to support her addiction.

I personally would say if you are inadeqaute of going through with a fullterm pregnancy drug free then why not just have a abortion, BUT when/if the State hae to intervene more than once to take away a fetus, do her inabilities to keep clean, should she be allowed to continue getting pregnant, expecially when she USES the child to support her needs?

Then, not to mention every born coke addicted child that is taken by the State, often never adopted because of his/her condition, which there is about 60% chance, that a child born with pre drug exposure will never be adopted, and the more children there are that are not adopted, the more money needed in supporting them, That money comes from our taxes, money that could go to your (CYS) that you spoke of, which I am also in favor of.

As for the abusers, I do believe prison time usually serves it moral purpose, and children are placed in State care, but as for the child molestors, and child sex offenders, which 78% percent of the time is from a parent, or a family member, sterlization absoluteley take place.

A rapist cna be castrated before being back sent into society, if they feel that he is still of particular threat, (which seems stupid that they even let him out) but needless to say, you can see my point, and my point is this- Parenthood Should Be Made A Right To Earn-

It is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly, especially since these are human lives, not just objects we can pass off onto the State, and how many are we going to send before we recongnize that there may be a potential issue at hand-

What would you suggest?


I thank my opponent for her well articulated response.

As I said before, I see the merits of such a program in place. Unfortunately I also believe the government does not have a right to legislate over someone's body unless they have committed a grievous crime (this does not extend to forced sterilization, but rather the imprisonment of individuals). I stated in my previous argument that being addicted to drugs is not a crime, and therefore the government has no right to jump in.

But I thank you for mentioning the castration of rapists in some states, though as far as I am aware this is a voluntary procedure.

This could be an option that can be offered by the government for a small fee, or no fee at all depending on your jurisdiction, to a mother who is addicted to drugs that comes in for an abortion or has a child in a hospital. I believe the key word though is *voluntary*. As such we cannot force it upon her, it must be voluntary. Just like Planned Parenthood, we can teach these women about the consequences of having a child and doing narcotics, and also about sterilization as a possible option. This would probably be an effective option if implemented I believe, and it is entirely voluntary.

I would also like to address the situation of a child that has already been born to a drug-addicted mother, and the possible consequences of that. While sterilization is an option, it is not the only one. The child may never recover from the deformities that the mother caused and as you pointed out, may never be able to become placed with a foster/adoptive family. As such, this leaves only two solutions; life in the care of the state, or life in the care of the mother.
When I state the latter, I mean after the mother has reformed herself. I believe that the state can actually impose punishments on an unfit mother, either by revoking her drivers license, withholding paychecks, threat of arrest due to constant drug searches by police, etc. The only way the mother can avoid these things is if she attends rehab and reforms her life, and is able to take back her child. It is also a double-edged sword, because it will ensure that future children born to the mother will not face the same effects as the one born addicted to coke. This kind of program would probably have a very good result if enforced properly, and does not violate any human rights of the mother to her body.

There will of course be those that do not adhere to this program or the voluntary sterilization. It is unfortunate, but the government still does not have the right to forcefully sterilize her. My supporting argument for that is based on the fact that such a thing is technically an eugenics program.
While not the intention, forced sterilization has the same effect. It is taking away someone's reproductive rights and disallows them to have children again, effectively wiping away their gene pool. This is an immoral thing to force on someone and actually an illegal act. The US Supreme Court case Skinner v. State of Oklahoma, which I will post the link to at the bottom of my argument, invalidated the use of sterilization as a criminal punishment.

In terms of child abusers and molesters, I am almost inclined to agree that it would be morally right to sterilize such horrible people. But reproductive rights still take the forefront of the matter, as well as the Supreme Court case I mentioned earlier which makes it illegal to use sterilization as a punishment. It is better to spend our tax dollars towards tougher, more effective law enforcement and CYS programs. While some may say this is a waste of tax dollars, it would probably cost the same amount of money as a mandatory system of sterilization clinics spread across the US. If we're going the spend this money, we need to spend it right.

Skinner v. Olkahoma -

Once again, thank you for this interesting topic, and I await your response.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you for your response, it has been most helpful.

I would like to make a correction, especially for those who might view this:
The Forced Ceasareans were used primarily in the cases of terminally ill fated women whom seemed that they would not have much of a chance in living, thus the forced c-section to save the babies before the mother died.(Angela Carder Case) It was linked and listed with drug abusing mothers, so I made a false connection, and no further research has showed a case like that yet either. So, as far as I know, there is not a State issue that convinced a woman to have a c-section for drug exposure to the fetus. The State was brought in when doctors were using court orders to justify using the surgical proceedures against the mothers wishes. That was where I was confused. Again it was all linked together in one category- my apologies.

There has been cases where the mothers were imprisoned though for substance abuse while pregnant, but it has been clearly recognized how this sort of restraint, with out adeqaute prenatal care, can cause extreme negative effects on not just the mother but the baby as well. There was a high percentage rate of 78 miscarriages in prisons for women who were sent due to substance abuse. Prison was clearly not a result to the solution either.

As for your response on the issue of *voluntary*, I suppose I did seem abrasive on the issue of "forced sterilization". Evidently I was not the only one either. The C.R.A.C.K movement during the 70's was when the government was encouraging drug abusers to get sterilized or to be on birth control. I of course saw nothing wrong with that. It might be their persausion but they still have the legal right to say no to the suggestion.
Of course I read on only to find out that it was really used to provoke sterilizing black women-

I do agree with all your methods and treatments. In response to one though, some women have lost everything and they don't always clean up their act, which is why some live on the street so again I ask what do you do if she continues getting pregnant or when programs don't work?

I think your right though, suggestive sterilization/birth control woiuld be appropriate. Perhaps doctors could reccomend putting them on some form of birth control if they are going to continue drug use, since forced therapy and institutionalization is against their rights, especially their prenatal rights.

As for the voluntary castration I will have to look that up, I was under the impression that if released, it was their conditions that they would have to be castrated, but I will look further into that.

But my heart still stands on rapists, childmolestors and sex offenders. (Either castrated or Sterilized)

Your comments are becoming most helpful, I thank you again


I thank you for clearing all of that up, and I appreciate your honesty in admitting that mistake, as well as your kind words regarding my stance on the issues. It makes much more sense to me that the government forced a ceasarean on a dying woman, rather than one addicted to drugs. But I do wish to express my respect for your original stance, as well as your stance on rapists, molesters and child abusers, for I do not think anyone with a conscience would be able to deny that sterilization is a very, very attractive option to deal with them.

But to quickly answer your question regarding the voluntary status of castration, it is a requirement if the offender wishes to gain early release, but it is not a mandatory option for the offender to be released at all. You can see this here: ; "...As with any treatment intervention, appropriate informed consent must be obtained when anti-androgen therapy is implemented."
You may also see other treatments on that site, as well as my source for that site, a legal document pertaining to a case before the Supreme Court, Kansas v. Michael T. Crane.

Now I would like to address your question regarding what to do when all other treatments fail due to the reasons you cited, or that the mother simply does not agree to any of this. I believe that there is only so far the law can do in cases like these. I would like to quote a book called The Rights Revolution, by the Honourable Michael Ignatieff:
"The idea that rights are prior to government, either because they are historically acquired or because they are inherent to being human, is meant to set limits on what government authorities can do to us. ....This takes us to a third sense of the word "prior": governments and legislatures exist to protect, defend, and where we deem necessary, extend our rights. Rights define not only the limits of government power, but also its very purpose." (Chapter II, page 28-29)
Why I mentioned this is because I want to illustrate why I believe the government doesn't have a right to infringe on a woman's rights to have a child, despite the fact that that child may be in danger. Reproductive rights are an inherent human right that the government can not infringe upon, as well as it being a right the government is meant to defend.
So while we must do everything in our power to prevent the mother from having children while addicted on drugs, there is a simple line we cannot cross. We can get the majority of these women, through government programs or charity outreach or possibly even through a program similar to the NAOMI project, but with contraceptives.
We have an obligation to do all of these things, but we cannot strip away the mother's rights if it all fails. That is just an unfortunate fact of life in our society.

I have my own question to you though; what would you think about such a program that is based off of the NAOMI project, but as I said only with contraceptives, or even if there is a possibility, less harmful drugs?
Here is a link to explain the NAOMI project: I await your articulated opinion.

Thank you again for your response.
Debate Round No. 3


Well, I viewed your link for NAOMI, and it seems like a wonderful solution to a horrific problem. I only hope that people who are substance abusers can come to some sort of understanding in recognizing the seriousness of their condition. I also hope that in regards to bringing a child into the world one can hope that the would also take necessary precautions as well. Responsibility is the key factor here, which is what I adomently am trying to express, since again these are lives we are talking about. All your programs seem great, as does any program regarding the nature of drug rehabilitation. I guess the problem is getting people to do it, and knowing when it's time to start making some serious changes. It's just heart wrenching when there is a child involved. If when the State knows to intervene in such cases that's great. But there have been incidences, like the State of New York, (forgive me for not having the link) where mothers who tested positive for cocaine during a pregnancy were not being properly screened and reviewed even after the baby was born, and in some cases the mothers had two or three children before the State even recognized there was a problem. By then some of the older children had already experienced signs of neglect and even in some rare cases drug usage of their own. Perhaps the problem is the State?

I guess my point is, if you can't be responsible to take care of yourself, especially your body, then at least be responsible enough not to bring children in the world. Take birth control.

My Conclusive Decision- Birth Control, and yes voluntarily...hehe

Thank you again for a wonderful debate/discussion. You have been most helpful.



I believe that perhaps the problem is both the State, and the mother's own lack of responsibility. It falls upon the State to be there to provide the services that the mother can choose, as well as the responsibility the mother has to choose.
It may be a matter of advertisement, outreach and availability; but regardless of this, it is direly important to realize that even if our programs fail to solve the problem, the State has no right to intervene and take away someone's reproductive rights. The government is there to defend our human rights, not take them away.

This has been quite an interesting and informative debate though, as it has come down to stress the fact on both sides that we need to have preventive measures in place to help curve drug-addicted children, as well as find measures to protect our children from abusers, molesters and rapists.

I think this has been a wonderful debate, and I thank my opponent for creating this topic and arguing her side so well.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Lawsonishere 7 years ago
Interesting debate
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Xie-Xijivuli 7 years ago
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