Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Should welfare mothers be sterilized?

On December 18, 2006 Teresa Savicki went to the Bayside Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts for a Ceasarean section. Instead of inserting an IUD, as she had requested, they allegedly tied her tubes without her consent.

This is Savicki's ninth child. She is unmarried. She is on welfare.

Last May, she learned the hospital had no record of a consent form, and on December 15, she filed suit against the attending physicians and the hospital.

The Daily Beast reports that when the Boston Herald recounted her story last week, "the public response to her plight was immediate and vicious." The two stories about Savicki on "have generated 1,000 comments each, the vast majority of them hostile."

But Savicki says she's not the woman she's being accused of. “People are under the impression that I had nine kids with nine different daddies,” she says, “and that is not true. I had four kids with my previous partner. He passed away in May, of cancer, and that man worked until the week he died, paying child support and taking care of his kids.” As for her current partner, Angel Flores Tirado, she says they've been together for 10 years and have three children. According to Savicki, “Angel has a full-time job. He works day and night, and he supports his kids.” She says Tirado “wanted another boy, and that’s gone. I can’t." Now she worries he'll leave her because she can't bear more children.

But all this self-defense is academic, says Savicki’s lawyer, Max Borten, a former obstetrician. “The real issue here,” he says, “is who has the right to determine who gets sterilization. The patient? The doctor? A hospital committee? A state committee?” The obvious answer, says Professor Linda Fentiman of Pace University School of Law, is the patient. Fentiman says federal law requires written consent, signed 30 days prior to the procedure. . . .

Fentiman also points to an apparent paradox in what she believes is the ideology of those who are attacking Savicki. “I think it is ironic,” she says, “that, I would guess, many of the people who would be for compulsory sterilization would also be those who are fervently—what they call themselves—pro-life. But what ties it together, I think, is the lack of respect for women’s reproductive autonomy.” Fentiman sees this disdain for women’s rights as pervasive in medicine.

I'm pro-choice. I believe Savicki's attorney and the law professor are on the right track. I believe the doctors and hospital  had no business tying her tubes without her consent - if indeed that is what happened. But why in God's name can't these women keep their legs together? Rich or poor, having nine children is obscene.

ADDITION: This is from the first article that the Boston Herald ran on Savicki.

Savicki has nine children from several men, is unemployed and relies on public assistance for two of the four children who live with her. She receives supplemental security income, or SSI, for a disability, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she said. Her mother has custody of three of her children. Two of her children are no longer minors.

A variation of facts between the first and second pieces.


  1. L,
    I'm with you 100% on this.I'm pro-choice,support peoples rights and all that.But in a case like this my support is pretty much reluctant and by reflex.
    Am I being judgmental ? Yes I am. And not ashamed to admit it.

  2. There are a lot of mean-spirited people out there, but the law seems to be clear. The hospital is liable. The mean-spirited people can go f*** themselves.

  3. The law is clear, but I question why society should have to pay for the results of her horizontal rumbas after a certain point? There was a big movement several years ago urging families to limit the number of offspring to two because of over population. Nine is a little over the top and why should society get saddled with the bill?

    I'm not saying to do away with welfare. Some moms get stuck with a bunch of kids when their husbands walk out or when they lose their jobs. But I bet this gal has never even had a job and is obviously taking advantage of the system. I have a problem with that but I also have a problem with tying her tubes without her consent - if that is what happened. Frankly I can't imagine doctors being so stupid as to do something like that. I didn't mention it in the piece, but she's filed a lawsuit once before against CVS.

  4. A problem we all have is jumping to conclusions. For every welfare mom that has a kid to get a bigger check, like that is a real good deal. There is another that is a victim of circumstances.

    Each case is different and should be judged on it's own merit.

    I question the gal's judgement and to be frank, I don't feel as if I or society owe her anything.

    Sorry if that disappoints some of my liberal leaning friends.

  5. Truth: You're not offending me. I'm having real problems with it. I have a sneaky feeling that there's more to this story than meets the eye. I cannot imagine two doctors tying her up without her consent.

  6. the whole story smells of something fishy. First, how can she collect welfare if she had partners with full time jobs? Second, how did she know her tubes were tied? Did she have an examination when she couldn't get pregnant? She could be serious or she could be a flake trying to get some big bucks. Who knows, But, I'm pro-choice too.

  7. First, if the hospital did indeed sterilize her without her consent, she should and will win the case. Regardless of the details of her situation or behavior, such a decision was not theirs to make. As with abortion, the question is not "Is it right" but "who gets to decide". Only the individual patient has the right to make that decision, and if someone else imposes their own decision, that someone else must be punished.

    Yes, some people do abuse the welfare system, but forcible sterilization is the kind of totalitarian imposition associated with regimes like mainland China's, not with a free society. There's such a thing as a solution worse than the problem.

    According to the story, she wanted to have an IUD inserted. If the hospital had somply done that, it would have taken care of the problem.

  8. Infidel: I can't argue against what you're saying, the law being what it is - and I'm glad that it's in place certainly. But what I am asking is, "if" her tubes were in fact tied and if they were in fact tied by the doctors at this hospital. Is it true that she did or did not sign a consent? Bayside is rated pretty high - 23rd in the nation for diabetes care - so it seems to be a reliable hospital, not one prone to illigalities.

    Aside from that, she says it's none of any one's business how many children she has. Were she able to take care of them herself that would be true. But to keep popping these puppies out and expecting the public to foot the bill doesn't sit well with me.

    Frankly, I don't know what the solution is. Do we pass a law saying that after four kids welfare will not cover anymore kids, or the payments will be cut in half per child or will the mothers be, in fact, forced to have their tubes tied? I'm just raising questions, not endorsing any of these thoughts.

    Sue: I don't know if welfare payments are affected when someone has a partner. I also don't know how she found out her tubes were tied. But I think you're right that there is something fishy here.

  9. Frodo will make some people angry with what he has to say. There is nothing personal nor sacreligious in his words, in fact Frodo feels that his words are largely unsaid because of the fear associated with their interpretation.

    This is not necessarily the problem of government. It is the problem of a society that fails to demand responsibility of other institutions in that society. An institution that accepts or condones nine offspring has a concomitant responsibility to ensure proper support.

    There are no people on Easter Island because the inhabitants consumed all the resources necessary to sustain that society. The Mayan civilization disappeared from the planet Earth because the populace grew so large that resources could not be delivered to the cities. Present-day Haiti, dare Frodo say it, has no trees and no birds, and another human catastrophe.

    Haiti is 95% Catholic. Given the name of the individual in the subject story, Frodo will make the assumption, rightly or wrongly, that we are talking about Hispanic upbringing, which is almost entirely Catholic in America. If there is a societal institution, like the Church, which sponsors or condones population growth, then doesn't it follow that that institution bears responsibility? Why does "government," alone, foot the bills?

    The issue is not whether government has the right to act in behalf of an individual. The government and the individual share responsibility, the Church, on the other hand, stands like Pontius Pilate, and pretends that they just don't see.

  10. A woman CAN receive welfare money even if she receives child-support. The child-support payments go through the welfare office and "supposedly" are adjusted depending on the amount of the child-support. Now this could have changed, as this is what happened to my bio-mother after she and my dad divorced (30+ yrs ago). He paid child-support and she went on welfare.

    This situation hits home for me...personally. My bio-mother's tubes were tied without consent, although I WAS relieved.

    She already had 3 children, to my dad. She remarried and had 2 more children (daughters). She was told by her doctor not to have the 2nd as it could be life threatening, but she did it anyway, because she wanted to give her husband "a son" (go figure). During delivery she and the baby almost died, so the procedure was performed.

    I say I was relieved because I was the one who was taking care of HER kids. My half-sisters were 11 and 12 years younger than me. My childhood was stolen from me. Had they not tied her tubes, she would've kept having babies.

    Now, on a rational level, I'm pro-choice too, and I don't think anyone should be sterilized without consent. However, I think there is a psychological issue with these women who "want" or "need" so many kids. They need birth control and counseling. We give them free health care, money and food stamps. Why not educate them and give them counseling?

  11. Is it true that she did or did not sign a consent?

    If she did, no doubt the hospital will produce it, now that they're being sued.

    My comment was written on the assumption that the description of the incident in the posting was accurate.

    Again, if Savicki had asked for an IUD to be inserted, clearly she did not want to go on having children irresponsibly.

    The problem of people who insist on having more children than they can afford to support is one of those conundrums that doesn't have an easy answer. In a country as rich as ours, it's unacceptable that anyone should be left to starve -- espcially children who are at risk not due to any fault of their own but due to the irresponsibility of their parents. Yes, this then creates a burden on the state, and that is a bad thing, but not as bad as letting people be sterilized without their consent. We are rightly outraged when conservatives want to ban or discourage a woman from having an abortion on the grounds of some concern which they think outweighs her right to self-determination. The same principle applies here. There are some areas so personal that neither the state nor a doctor nor anyone else can be allowed to override the individual's right to self-determination.

    The economic burden on the state represented by people like Savicki is tiny compared with the burden created by Wall Street crooks, corporate and agribusiness subsidies, etc.

    If Savicki is Hispanic, she obviously is not too much influenced by the Catholic Church's anti-contraception drivel, based on the IUD request.

    Finally, this is not Easter Island. This is a nation producing such an abundance of food that we can export a massive percentage of it and still see half our population grossly overweight. There is no basis for the state to be trying to limit population size. If there were, it should start by limiting immigration.

  12. I added some contradictory text from the first article, but I don't think it really impacts on the main gist of the story. The 1st story was written on 1/3 and updated on the 15th; the second story was written on the 6th and updated yesterday. Same reporter but I have to wonder with these updates, if she checked her facts - kind of like me.

    "My comment was written on the assumption that the description of the incident in the posting was accurate."

    If you're talking about my post, all I have to go by is the news article, but I'll be the first to admit that I should have checked out the first one. I'm usually a little more careful - unless I'm in a big hurry. ; )

    Having said that, all I have are questions but no answers. Personally, and especially in cases of welfare, I don't see how someone can feed nine children satisfactorily. I don't really care if people think I'm against any causes for women - I'm not - but children have to come first. The mother, providing she has any brains at all, can take care of herself. Who's going to protect the children?

    Savicki is not Hispanic. It is a Ukraine name.

    I do enjoy your posts, Infidel - they challenge my feeble brain.

  13. In a case where there is so much contradictory information, the courts will just have to sort the case out. I think that the woman is irresponsible to keep having children, given the knowledge that she cannot afford them. However, I cannot support manditory sterilization. There are too many opportunities for abuse. Great post, TL.

  14. Angel Flores Tirado is not Hispanic?

    America is obviously not Easter Island, but Haiti ain't far off.

  15. TomCat: I'm a cynic from the word go - especially with women. Sorry. I simply cannot imagine doctors at a hospital of this caliber acting so recklessly. Is it worth losing their license?

    One of the articles, or maybe both, said she took the IUD to the hospital and gave it to the nurse in an open box, for God's sake.

    Frodo - Angel is the name of her current partner.

  16. For every one woman on social aid programs with 9 kids, there are 20 with one child. Just saying...

    On american indian reservations throughout the 20th century, Native American women who were admitted to reservation, and some non-reservation, hospitals were routinely forcibly sterilized while under anesthesia. This was going on well into the 70's and 80's, and might still be. It was abhorrent in their cases, and it is abhorrent in this case, as well. Just my 2 cents.

  17. Bee: I think you misunderstand what I'm saying. If - and that's the big question here -this did in fact happen, then I hope she wins some big bucks. I think it's reprehensible "if" the doctors tied her tubes without her consent.

    But, I'm sticking by my objections to a woman who has nine kids and lives on the public dole. This is not in the best interest of the children. If her mother does have some of the kids, why? We don't know if child services placed them with her, and, if so, why. There are a lot of unanswered questions here.

    I know how shabbily those poor Native American women were treated. And, Lord knows, there have been many other cases. To me, it is just as horrific as the Tuskegee syphilis experiments.

  18. There's no excuse for that at all. This type of action has historically been a problem with MRDD (mentally retarded, developmentally disabled.... not modern terms!)

  19. dmarks: I know most of the women here think I'm a traitor to our sex. I'm very familiar with all the absolutely horrendous desexing of women - as well as men and it still goes on. I in no way whatsoever condone it. Please everybody understand that.

    I may end up eating crow - not for the first time - but until the case goes to court we really don't know anything.

    I just have a few red flags going up here - things that "I" am uncomfortable with. Whether she's had one or 25 children is not the issue here. She filed another suit against CVS (something to do with an out of date spermicide) - settled out of court. This hospital has a very high rating - I just can't imagine two doctors jeopardizing their careers by doing something that is clearly illegal. I'm uncomfortable with her statement that she gave the nurse an IUD that was in an open box. Sterilization? She claims to have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and is on disability. I don't know about other women but I sure as hell would avoid getting pregnant if I had that diagnosis FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN born and unborn. She also said she wanted an IUD in case she wanted more children. I'm no doctor but could there have been something in her lymphoma treatment that caused the sterility?

  20. tnlib, Frodo's point was that the "blame" (or responsibility) should not be shouldered by one gender. Evidently, this dude "Angel" was lookin' (like Abou ben Adhem} to increase his tribe, and he found this quasi-rabbit who was willin' for some drillin'.
    We're on the same side. This Democrat believes that no one should starve, or freeze, in the dark. He is willing to help, but he thinks the German in Rome can do some good too.

  21. Frodo: Apparently Angel, 36, has a full-time job as a personal care assistant. This gal is 35. There are several daddies. But I agree wholeheartedly that these men should take some responsibility, but alas, that's not the way our society is geared these days.