A judge has ordered a woman convicted of abusing her children to undergo implantation of a new birth control device, triggering charges of government intrusion in reproductive rights.
But Tulare County Superior Court Judge Howard Broadman, defending his order Friday, said the woman, Darlene Johnson, 27, agreed to the implant before he imposed it as a condition of her probation."She had all the choice in the world," Broadman said.
However, Johnson's lawyer, Charles Rothbaum, said the woman didn't understand what she was agreeing to and he called the judge's order a blatant attempt to control birthrates among the poor.
Cindy Pearson, a spokeswoman for the National Women's Health Network in Washington, D.C., also said she was concerned about the ethical implications of Johnson's sentence.
Pearson said she believed it was the first time a judge had ordered a defendant to undergo the implant, which was approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration in December.
Said Rothbaum, "The government has no right to get involved in population control. The political ramifications smack of keeping a certain social class - the poor - from breeding too much."
For his part, Broadman called Rothbaum's comments a "cheap political ploy" and said he was "tired" of the controversy.
The judge said Johnson, who is pregnant with her fifth child, agreed to the birth control procedure at a court hearing Wednesday. Rothbaum was not present at the time.