Ohio man ordered not to father children

Judge James Walther addresses Asim Taylor and his lawyer.    

Are anti-procreation orders constitutional in the United States? A case in Ohio is working its way to the state Supreme Court.

Early last year, a County Probate Judge, James Walther, ordered a 35-year-old man, Asim Taylor, not to have any more children until he has paid US$100,000 in child support to the four mothers of his four children. Judge Walther called the order a “matter of common sense and personal responsibility.” If he fathers a child, he will be sent to jail for one year.

The Ohio Court of Appeals has just upheld the decision, but only on a technicality. Judge Walther was disappointed, as he had hoped for a confirmation of the legality of the order. Similar orders have been upheld in the state of Wisconsin.  One of the appeal court judges wrote:

“Where, as here, the defendant has demonstrated a long-term refusal to support multiple children by multiple women notwithstanding his ability to work and contribute something for their care, an anti-procreation condition is reasonably related to future criminality. Taylor has here demonstrated that he is not inclined to support any of his children. There is no reason to believe that he would be inclined to support any future children.”

Mr Taylor’s lawyer put forward a number of reasons why the order should not have been imposed on his client: that it violated his constitutional right to reproduce; that his crime was not fathering children but failing to support them; and that a woman who becomes pregnant with his child might feel pressured to resort to abortion to keep him out of jail, thus violating her right, pace Roe v. Wade, to a voluntarily chosen abortion.

Mr Taylor should have the last word. “I take care of my children,” he said last year. “I just don’t pay them through child support.”

This article is published by Michael Cook and under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

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