healthcare, law, politics, rants, YouTube

Women behind bars are having a bloody awful time handling their periods…

Last week, I wrote a post about how adorable YouTuber, Mama Doctor Jones, who is an OB-GYN and mom to four, did a video about a woman who had a baby while she was incarcerated. I was really moved by Mama Doctor Jones’ reaction video to Jessica Kent’s story. Next thing I knew, I was on Jessica Kent’s YouTube channel, which is full of interesting videos about her time in prison. Jessica Kent is tiny, well-spoken, and apparently sober, having spent much of her youth in trouble with the law.

I haven’t yet familiarized myself with all of Jessica’s story, but I have watched a bunch of her videos. As I listen to how this fiery young woman wound up on the wrong side of the law, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened to her if she’d never gotten arrested. She’s very bright and articulate, and I think she’s determined to go far. Jessica has obviously embraced the power of the Internet, and has a presence all over social media. She’s pursuing a college degree, but I wonder if she’s already making a lot of money creating videos for YouTube.

Last night, I watched a video by Jessica Kent that made me very angry. It was about how she and her fellow female inmates in Arkansas were forced to make tampons out of the maxi pads doled out to them. Jessica explains that female prisoners in Arkansas are not given tampons and, in fact, can only get really poor quality maxi pads– and just two per day at that. Jessica says the pads are state issued, and she’s never seen the type of pads the state issues for sale outside of the prison walls. Because the pads are so poorly made, they have to be turned into tampons, which last longer than the pads do. So Jessica made a video to demonstrate how to make the tampons.

This is absolutely infuriating!

More than once, Jessica implores her viewers not to try to make these “tampons” at home, since the pad she’s using is not really the type she would have used in prison. Apparently, the pads we can get at the store are too “cottony” and “powdery”. In any case, I can’t imagine why someone would want to make a tampon like this if they weren’t incarcerated and forced to do so.

Jessica says that not all states have this draconian limit on feminine hygiene supplies in their prisons. For instance, when she was incarcerated in her home state of New York, Jessica had no problem getting all she needed for that little feminine monthly chore. New York, of course, is a blue state, and human rights are apparently more valued up north.

For some reason, the powers that be running the prisons in Arkansas think that two maxi pads per day are all a female prison inmate needs when she’s menstruating. I think about my own menstrual habits and realize how disgusting and unhygienic that is. As a woman, and a person with a public health educational background, it amazes me that prison officials in Arkansas are allowed to get away with this practice. At the very least, it seems like it would be a serious health risk to everyone who is incarcerated. Many diseases, some of which cannot be cured, are spread via blood exposure. Plus, it’s just so nasty!

I read in another article that, in some prisons, women who can’t get proper feminine hygiene supplies will pass up visits with family or their attorneys when they have their periods. They have to wait until they can get their laundry done, before they’re not sitting in their own blood. Kimberly Haven, the author of that article, writes that before and after each visit, inmates are strip searched, and have to squat and cough. The whole process is so demoralizing and horrifying that a lot of female inmates would prefer to skip it, even though attorneys and family members are powerful advocates for the inmates.

In another article, I read about how, in Connecticut, two female cellmates would have to share five state issued maxi pads among themselves. Every woman is different, of course, so there’s no way to tell how long a period is going to be and how often feminine hygiene products need to be changed. But the inmates in Connecticut also had to learn how to stretch their products out, sometimes by reusing them. The inmates in Connecticut could purchase supplies from the commissary, but for those who don’t have money, that $2.63 cost might mean one less phone call home or not being able to pay for a visit to the prison doctor. Also, realize that prison jobs often pay very little– like 20 or 30 cents an hour. It takes a long time to make enough money to buy the proper supplies if there’s no one on the outside helping.

I have stated before in this blog that I’m not a big fan of incarceration, but I especially dislike inhumane treatment toward people who are incarcerated. Yes, it’s true that the best thing for anyone to do is to avoid going to prison in the first place, but people who are locked up are not going to improve their behavior if they’re treated cruelly. Forcing women to handle their body functions in this way is demeaning and cruel, and it doesn’t deter crime. Prison is supposed to be unpleasant– it shouldn’t be dangerous and unhealthy.

According to my reading:

In 2017, then-Sen. Kamala Harris and her colleagues Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Richard Durbin introduced a bill to provide free menstrual products to incarcerated people in federal women’s prisons. The Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a guidance memo, separate from Harris’ bill, mandating that menstrual products be available to all incarcerated people in federal correctional facilities at no cost shortly after. In 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act, a more general justice reform effort that included access to menstrual products. 

So… if you’re a woman who goes to a federal lockup, or a prison in a blue state, you’re more likely to be able to take care of these basic body function needs. But there’s no legislation in most states that require state prisons to accommodate menstrual periods. Frankly, I think that’s a sin, and I would love to see some high profile lawsuits happen that force states to do a better job in this area. In a wealthy country like the United States, this unsanitary practice should be outlawed. We’re supposed to be “better” than this… although I think many Americans are fooling themselves thinking that the United States is a civilized country. When we have female prisoners who are sitting in their own menstrual blood every month for want of adequate feminine hygiene supplies, we’ve lost the right to refer to ourselves as “civilized”.

It’s also unfair that prisons don’t automatically take care of this issue, since this is not a problem that male prisoners have to face. In fact, men don’t even need toilet paper as much as women do, but according to Jessica’s videos, women in Arkansas prisons only get two rolls a week. That’s really not much, especially when it’s that time of the month. But a lot of men involved with making laws don’t want to hear about this problem. It’s too “gross” for them. The first paragraph of an article in the Public Health Post opens with:

When Arizona’s all-male House of Representatives heard House Bill 2222 on feminine hygiene products, Representative Jay Lawrence said “I’m almost sorry I heard the bill…I didn’t expect to hear about pads and tampons and the problems of periods.” Introduced by Rep. Athena Salman, Arizona House Bill 2222 allocates funds to provide women in state prisons with unlimited and free access to feminine hygiene products. Access to sanitary menstrual products is considered a basic human right in European prisons. Not so in the US.

Wow, Jay… you’ve shown us just who you are with your lack of compassion or comprehension of how necessary it is for you, and your male colleagues, to hear a bill about providing necessary supplies for women who menstruate. I wonder if Jay Lawrence can even fathom how humiliating and shaming it is for a woman to have to deal with this problem when she can’t get the supplies she needs. Does he have any women in his life that he loves? What an asshole.

Aside from how gross, messy, and unsanitary this problem is, the practice of turning pads into tampons could potentially be unsafe or even deadly. Consider that the inmates probably don’t have the cleanest surfaces for improvising these products and they may not be able to keep themselves optimally clean. Then they’re sticking the tampons into their body orifices, where the improvised tampon might abrade the skin or otherwise introduce pathogens into the body. An inmate could potentially get very sick or even wind up with toxic shock syndrome doing this. Toxic shock syndrome can lead to sepsis, which can cause a person to lose limbs or even their lives.

A tampon did this to Lauren Wasser.

Model Lauren Wasser, who was not incarcerated when she left a tampon in too long and got toxic shock syndrome, lost BOTH of her legs to the sickness. She very nearly died.

I know a lot of people don’t care about the plight of prisoners. Personally, I still see them as human beings who are entitled to decent, respectful, and humane care when they are incarcerated. And part of being humane is making it possible for people in custody to be able to take care of private, personal body functions like menstrual periods. I know I would support legislation requiring that clean and hygienic feminine hygiene products be made available to women in prisons. I hope others can see how important this is.

And… once again… I am so glad menopause is around the corner.

modern problems

Arizona Supreme Court justly rules divorced woman can’t use her frozen embryos…

Ruby Torres, 39, had always dreamt of being a mother. But in 2014, when she suffered an aggressive form of breast cancer, she was told that chemotherapy would eventually render her infertile. At that point, she knew the only way she would ever be able to get pregnant was by freezing her eggs and undergoing in-vitro fertilization.

John Terrell, Torres’ boyfriend at the time, initially declined to donate sperm, but eventually agreed. The couple signed a legal agreement stipulating that neither party would use the embryos to create a pregnancy without the express, written consent of both parties. Torres and Terrell married days after signing the agreement and immediately started IVF, resulting in seven viable embryos. But then they divorced in 2017, after just three years of marriage.

During the divorce proceedings, John Terrell asked the Maricopa County Superior Court to prevent Torres from having the embryos implanted. He stated that he no longer wanted to father children with Torres, and did not want to be financially responsible for children with her. The court initially sided with Terrell, and the embryos were ordered to be donated. Torres appealed, and the Arizona Court of Appeals sided with her, “ruling that Torres’ rights to have children prevailed over her ex-husband’s objections to becoming a parent.” Terrell did not accept that outcome and also appealed.

The couple continued to fight in court until a new law was made in 2018, allowing former spouses to use frozen embryos against their former partner’s wishes, but relieving the ex-spouse of parental responsibilities like paying child support. However, because this case predated the 2018 era law, the new law can’t be applied to Torres and Terrell. And they have finally reached the Arizona Supreme Court, which has sided with John Terrell and ruled that Ms. Torres does not have the right to use her frozen embryos after all. The embryos can now either be donated to another couple or destroyed.

Let me first state that I have empathy for Ruby Torres’ situation. Not knowing anything at all about the people involved in this case, I can definitely see how this would be a heartbreaking outcome for Ms. Torres. However, having been married to a man whose ex wife has “issues”, to say the very least, I can also see John Terrell’s side. If the situation were reversed, and Mr. Terrell wanted to implant the embryos into another woman, there would likely be much outrage among the masses. Moreover, there could be a very good reason why Terrell doesn’t want to father children with his ex wife. It may not be entirely about finances, either. Given that the two were only married for three years before they split, I wonder if maybe one, or even both of them, doesn’t have significant issues. I’m not saying they definitely do have issues— only that such a short marriage makes me wonder about the stability of one or both of them.

Ms. Torres has stated that she plans to remarry and would have her new husband adopt any children resulting from the embryos. She claims she would not have required any financial support from Mr. Terrell. However, making such a statement and actually adhering to it are two different things. Even if Ms. Torres is committed to having her new partner adopt any children resulting from the frozen embryos, when it comes down to it, the new partner also has to agree. Until he signs the dotted line accepting responsibility, it’s not a done deal. Not knowing any of the parties involved in this case, but having seen my husband’s ex wife promise things and then renege, I can see why Mr. Terrell didn’t want to take the risk. It sounds like their split was not amicable, which in and of itself could present serious problems.

A lot of people might wonder why Mr. Terrell would even care about what happened to the embryos if another man was willing to adopt any live children resulting from them. Personally, I can kind of see why Terrell wouldn’t want his ex raising his biological offspring. Think about this. At the very least, Mr. Terrell would have to live with the knowledge that some of his DNA resulted in a son or daughter who was being raised by an ex spouse with someone else. I think it would probably bother me to know that some other woman was raising any child of mine, with my DNA, against my wishes, whether or not I knew her. I don’t think I would ever be able to give up a child for adoption. Maybe Mr. Terrell feels the same way, or perhaps, for whatever reason, Terrell specifically doesn’t want his ex wife raising his child, even if he’s okay with strangers parenting his offspring. Since they had a legal agreement in writing, he has the right to withhold his permission for her to use the embryos his DNA helped make, regardless of the reason.

Again… I’ve actually seen my husband in this situation. He raised another man’s child for about ten years, then saw his own children raised by a different man. It was upsetting for Bill to be in that situation, so I can see why it might be problematic for Mr. Terrell. Add in the fact that Terrell hadn’t even wanted to donate sperm in the first place, and you could easily make the case that he never wanted to be a father– even one who is basically just a sperm donor. Since I don’t support forcing women to give birth; I also don’t support forcing men to father children.

Thinking about this situation reminds me of an 80s era episode of the classic sitcom, One Day At A Time. At the time, artificial insemination was a very new concept, so this episode was particularly groundbreaking when it aired in January 1981. An infertile couple, dying to have children but in need of a sperm donor, went to Pat Harrison’s character, Dwayne Schneider, for help. Schneider was almost talked into donating sperm, until he started talking enthusiastically about being involved in the child’s life. The infertile couple then made it clear that beyond donating sperm, Schneider would have no part in the child’s life. In fact, they said they hadn’t decided that they hadn’t decided if they would tell the child the circumstances of his or her birth (many years before home DNA tests, obviously). I remember very clearly what Schneider said in a very sorrowful tone of voice. It was, “I don’t think I can hack that.” Maybe that’s the case for Mr. Terrell, too. Or maybe he’s just a selfish, spiteful jerk, in which case, perhaps it’s better that he doesn’t pass along his genes. Not knowing anything about either party, it’s hard to tell where the truth lies in this case.

Schneider is asked to donate sperm to an infertile couple. In the end, he can’t hack it.

As it was pointed out to me last week when I was dismayed about the fifteen year old boy being evicted from his grandparents’ house after he was orphaned, there was a legal contract in this case. Legal contracts must be binding; otherwise, they do no good. It does seem crazy that another couple could birth and raise children resulting in a pregnancy created by the embryos made by Torres and Terrell. I’m sure it’s heartbreaking to think about it. But this is just one of the many issues that come up when people make babies in an unconventional way. It’s definitely a cautionary tale for those who sign legal contracts. Be sure to consider what could happen, worst case scenario, and make sure the language provides for those situations.

The funny thing is, I’m pretty sure the people who argued with me about the justification of enforcing the legal contract in the case of the teenaged boy would be squarely on Ms. Torres’ side in this case. Both people are pro-life, and Ms. Torres did have pro-life lobbyists at The Center for Arizona Policy working on her behalf to prevail in this case. But then, I tend to be more concerned about the welfare of people who have actually been born than embryos.

Anyway, I feel empathy for Ms. Torres, even though I think the Arizona Supreme Court ruled properly in this case. It’s too bad she didn’t also freeze some of her unfertilized eggs. I hope she’s able to find a way to move past this setback. At least her case has resulted in a new law, which may prevent this from happening in the future… in Arizona, anyway.

true crime

Sexting your 13 year old student… bad idea.

Yesterday, I ran across a salacious news story about a 28 year old woman named Brittany Zamora of Goodyear, Arizona. Until March of last year, Ms. Zamora was a schoolteacher who taught sixth grade at Las Brisas Academy. Ms. Zamora, who has been married to Daniel Zamora since 2015, just got sentenced to 20 years in prison. Why? Because she had sex with one of her students, a 13 year old boy. They engaged in intercourse multiple times; on one occasion, another student stood watch. Aside from that, the pretty young teacher was also sending graphic sexually explicit text messages to her student, who responded in kind.

Ms. Zamora getting sentenced earlier this month. She had a female judge who clearly didn’t cut her any slack for “coming from a good family.”

The boy’s parents grew suspicious of the way their son was behaving, so they installed an application called Sentry Parental Control on the child’s phone. At that point, they got wise to what their son’s teacher was up to and called the authorities. Ms. Zamora was then arrested. It came out that she’d had sex with the boy four times in her car and once in her classroom. She also sent the boy nude pictures of herself, as well as photos of herself in lingerie. Some of the messages they sent to each other were downright X rated, as were their in person sexual activities.

Everybody has a phone, which means nobody has privacy… so why would you send dirty text messages to a minor? Or to anyone, for that matter?

When I read this story, my first thought was that it’s crazy for anyone to think they can get away with this kind of thing in today’s hyperconnected world. Thanks to the Internet and prying, nosy, curious information seekers, it’s becoming more and more difficult to maintain privacy. I know some people do things in an effort to hide themselves online. Here in the military world, a lot of women don’t use their last names on social media. However, that’s becoming a futile practice, since a lot of times, just a few mouse clicks will reveal the person’s identity. If you know anything about them at all, you can get more information.

My husband, for instance, was able to find his younger daughter online because she’d left a comment on someone’s Web site. She didn’t use her last name, but she did use her first name, and wrote in a way that easily identified her. He clicked on the name, which was attached to a link, and ended up on her blog. It took less than a few minutes to do this. He read her blog for years before she finally came around to speaking to him again. It was the only way he could stay in touch with his children. Likewise, when my husband’s ex wife decided to move to New Hampshire from Arizona without informing Bill, it wasn’t hard at all to find that information.

I have an acquaintance who seems to go to great lengths to hide her identity. She doesn’t use her full name online, nor does she post any pictures of herself. When she’s left me comments on my blogs or sent me private messages, she’s always done so using aliases. But I know her name. In fact, I know her full name. The other day, I looked her up to see if she was still living in the same city. It wasn’t hard to get the answer to that question, or any others I had. The information is out there, despite her measures to maintain “privacy”. Curiously enough, she doesn’t seem to mind invading my privacy, but that’s a password protected rant for another day.

So… why is it that a teacher thinks she can send dirty text messages and photos to a 13 year old and get away with it? It shows an astonishing lack of judgment on her part. I don’t know what drives people who want to have sex with minors. Ms. Zamora claims she is not a danger to society. But she did molest a child… so if that’s not dangerous to society, I don’t know what is.

A couple of my friends commented that they didn’t disagree that Ms. Zamora should get 20 years in prison, but they do think it’s unfair that some men get slaps on the wrist for similar crimes. They’re thinking of people like Brock Turner, the Stanford University swimmer who did less than six months behind bars for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. The judge hadn’t wanted to ruin his “bright” future. Or, more recently, there is the case of the teenaged boy in New Jersey who got extreme lenience from a judge because the boy comes from a “good family”. The 16 year old in question had allegedly raped an unconscious girl, filming himself while he was engaged in the crime, and posting it on social media. He sent the clip to seven friends with the caption, “When your first time having sex is rape.” Some good family he comes from, right?

Bill’s comment to that was that, not too long ago, women were “slapped on the wrist” for molesting boys. He mentioned Debra Lafave, the blonde bombshell high school English teacher who famously molested a 14 year old boy who was one of her students. At the time, she was 24 years old and very attractive. In 2006, she pleaded guilty to two counts of lewd or lascivious activity and was sentenced to just three years on house arrest, seven years probation, and registration as a sex offender. Like Ms. Zamora, Lafave (whose last name is now Beaseley), had sex with her student. She also performed oral sex and engaged in these activities in front of another minor, her victim’s 15 year old cousin, who drove them around while they went at it in the back seat. I wonder why Ms. Lafave got such a comparatively light sentence. If she had been a male teacher molesting a female, she’d have probably done hard time.

Or, take Mary Kay Letourneau, the “brilliant” schoolteacher who had a sexual relationship with her student, Vili Fualaau, that turned into a torrid affair. Ms. Letourneau was given multiple chances to stay out of prison, but was eventually caught with her former student. She spent years in prison, but only after she violated her probation and got pregnant by the boy. Then, after she was released, she and Vili married. They have two daughters, in addition to the children Ms. Letourneau had with her ex husband, Steve Letourneau. If she had been a man, she probably would have spent much longer in prison.

Amazingly enough, according to the article I read, Ms. Zamora actually got the minimum sentence for her sex crimes. The boy’s parents had asked for the maximum sentence, which must have been much longer than twenty years (edited to add, maximum sentence would have been 27 years). As it is, Ms. Zamora will be in prison until she’s about my age, because she cannot be released on “good behavior”. Moreover, she will have to register as a sex offender when she’s released. Ms. Zamora’s husband, Daniel, tried to “settle” the matter with the boys’ parents, who, understandably, weren’t having any of it. The boys’ parents, instead, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Zamora for failing to contact the authorities when he learned of the affair between his wife and their minor son. Mr. Zamora recently settled with the boys’ parents for an undisclosed amount.

I don’t know if Mr. and Ms. Zamora will divorce in the wake of this legal morass. I would expect them to, even though they’ve known each other for many years and Zamora seems to be defending his wife. Fortunately, they don’t have any children. Hopefully, Ms. Zamora’s victim will be able to overcome this trauma and have a good life. In my experience, though, this kind of thing has significant ripple effects that will likely affect many people who will have dealings with that young man. For that reason, I don’t think it’s wrong that Ms. Zamora got a hard twenty year sentence. She deserves it.

true crime, Uncategorized

There is NO EXCUSE for this…

This morning, I became aware of a scary situation that occurred in Phoenix, Arizona on May 29, 2019. Dravon Aames, and his pregnant fiancee, Iesha Harper, visited a Family Dollar store with their children, London, 1, and Island, 4. Without their knowledge, Island took a doll from the store. The police followed the family to their babysitter’s apartment complex, where they intended to drop off the children.

A police officer approached their vehicle, gun drawn, and opened the door. He screamed and cursed at the family. Although the police officers were not wearing the body cameras required by the police department, passersby filmed the incident and it’s now all over the Internet. And… while I do have empathy for officers of the law, who don’t know what or whom they will face on a given day, there is NO WAY their conduct here is acceptable. Take a look.

The vile language alone should get them fired.

It’s easy to hear the officers threatening to shoot the family, swearing at them, and screaming at them. And while I don’t know what prompted them to react in this extreme manner, it really looks bad for the Phoenix police department. There’s no reason to use words like “fuck” and “shit” in front of citizens, especially when there are small children around. Those kids were probably terrified, especially Island, who at age four will likely be able to remember this incident. The child is reportedly wetting the bed and having nightmares, now.

Once they had Aames cuffed and put in the back seat of a patrol car, the police zeroed in on Harper, who was holding her baby. The police officer grabbed her around the neck, then demanded that she put her baby on the hot pavement. London doesn’t yet walk, so her mother was unwilling to do as the police officer demanded. Harper eventually passed the child to a passerby; then the cop pushed her head first into the patrol car and cuffed her.

This extreme response was all over an alleged shoplifting perpetrated by a four year old child. Bystanders have claimed that Aames stole underwear and threw it out of the vehicle, refusing to stop when commanded to, and driving on a suspended license. However, the store manager declined to press shoplifting charges and, though the couple was detained, they were neither ticketed nor arrested. The car was impounded, though, and Aames, who is now limping due to being injured during this incident, has to walk to work.

Naturally, the couple has a lawyer and, frankly, I hope they sue the hell out of the city and win big. They have made a claim of $10 million. I doubt they’ll get that much, but they have every right to sue and, I hope, prevail in their lawsuit. This was a case of extreme overkill, unprofessionalism, and straight up terrorism. It looks like these officers have lost their damned minds! To their individual credits, Mayor Kate Gallego and Police Chief Jeri Williams are “disturbed” by the videos that have surfaced regarding this situation. The officers involved are now on desk duty while an investigation is conducted. Frankly, I think the cops involved in this should be fired and face some legal action. They exhibited the lowest degree of professionalism and provided an excellent example of why people now fear the police so much.

I do understand that today’s police officers, especially in the United States, have a very difficult job to do. The work is stressful, and there’s no way to know what or whom cops will face on any given shift. However, I would expect the police to be in control of themselves, first and foremost, before they attempt to take control of a situation. Yes, they need to take charge, and that means being intimidating, but there’s a difference between confidence and assertiveness and plain old aggressive thuggery. These cops are no better than criminals themselves, based on their behavior.

The police officers who wrote up this report left out a lot of key details, which were all caught on film. For instance, they failed to mention that they swept Aames’ leg, resulting in an injury.

It’s really disheartening to read and/or see videos of American police officers acting this way… or, in the case of Scot Peterson, former resource officer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, not at all. We’ve got to do better than this. Hell, in 2015, four off-duty unarmed Swedish police officers visiting New York City were able to break up a fight without acting like psychopaths.

American cops should take a lesson.

I feel horrible for Aames and Harper and, especially, the two children who witnessed this. I hope they at least get their car back and some compensation for what they’ve endured. Unfortunately, their four year old may have permanent psychic scars because of these rogue cops.

CPS, Police

Guns a blazin’!

A few days ago, I read the story of Arizona parents of three, Sarah Beck and Brooks Bryce, whose unvaccinated two year old son had a very high fever. At about 5:00pm on February 25th, Ms. Beck took the boy to Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine’s clinic. She saw a doctor who was concerned that the boy might have meningitis because his fever was over 105 degrees.

The doctor told Beck that she should take her son to a local emergency room. Ms. Beck didn’t want to take the child to the ER because she was afraid staffers there would call CPS due to the child’s lack of vaccinations. The naturopathic doctor assured Beck that CPS would not be summoned. Beck then apparently relented, and the doctor advised her to take her son to a children’s hospital. The doctor then called the hospital and asked them to let her know when the mother and child arrived.

Ms. Beck then decided not to take her boy to the ER. She said his fever broke and he appeared to feel better. They went home. Meanwhile, the doctor she’d consulted got very worried when Beck didn’t visit the ER with her child. She called the police and asked the to do a wellness check. When the police showed up to do the check, Brooks Bryce, father of the two year old and his four and six year old siblings, refused to allow the police to see the child. He declined to take the child to the hospital, supposedly worried about the potentially high bill associated with an ER visit.

At 1:30am, the police showed up at the home again with a court order. Since Beck and Bryce still refused to cooperate, they broke down the door and seized all three of the children. The parents were ordered to come outside with their hands up, as police officers swarmed their home with guns drawn. They were arrested and, to this day, their kids remain in foster care. It was later determined that the boy and his sisters had a respiratory sickness.

I shared this story with friends. One friend felt the police were justified in breaking down the front door and hauling these parents to jail. Personally, I disagree. I think the way the police handled this case could ultimately do more harm than good.

On the surface, this seems reasonable. Or, it could just mean the doctor doesn’t want to deal with addicted patients. OB-GYNs do have to pay a lot for malpractice insurance.

As I was explaining why I feel this way, I was reminded of a post I wrote on my old blog about pregnant women being warned about their drug use at the doctor’s office. A doctor had posted a note in his office about how any pregnant woman who tested positive for drugs would be reported to the authorities. My immediate thought was that the doctor wasn’t actually interested in helping all pregnant women. He or she was probably more concerned about liability. A Facebook friend had posted a photo of the note, commending the doctor on his stance. But I got the feeling that she hadn’t considered what that attitude would actually mean for the developing fetus in the drug addicted mom. Pregnant women who abuse drugs still need medical care, probably even more than other pregnant women who don’t have addictions. Posting a sign that guarantees that the addicted mom will get in trouble with the law is pretty much a guarantee that she won’t seek medical help when she needs it.

In this case, Sarah Beck was afraid to visit the emergency room with her son. Why? Because she was under the impression that someone would call CPS on her for not having him vaccinated. Yes, the doctor did inform Beck that her child would not be seized, since Arizona allows parents to opt their children out of vaccinations for personal, religious, and medical reasons. But, for some reason, she was still afraid that her parental rights would be stripped from her. Ultimately, that is exactly what happened, even if it was because the parents refused to cooperate with the authorities. This case ended up being referenced on anti-vax sites contending that Arizona child protective services “sells” children into foster care. So what does that do? Now, more people are going to be convinced that seeking medical or police help will lead to arrest.

I certainly don’t condone the way Sarah Beck and Brooks Bryce behaved. I think they should have been much more cooperative. I have read about what the police found when they raided their home, and I’ve seen the video in which the police kicked in the front door. Yes, there was evidence that the children weren’t getting the best care. Vomit was found on the children’s beds and there was a lot of clutter. Particularly concerning was the fact that police found a shotgun in the parents’ nightstand, which reportedly wasn’t functional. For that reason, I can see why the police officers placed the father in handcuffs.

I also think that certain vaccines should be mandatory, unless a person can’t take them for medical reasons. While I’m generally whole-heartedly in favor of a person having complete rights to his or her bodily autonomy, this is a public health issue. People still die of communicable diseases like measles, and for some people who can’t be vaccinated, it’s a true matter of life and death that healthy people are immune and can’t spread the disease. I do think that not vaccinating children, especially for formerly rare illnesses like measles, mumps, and rubella, is stupid.

However, I think the heavy handed SWAT team approach to forcing people to accept “help” will ultimately do more harm than good. The fact is, the police as a whole in the United States have gotten a very bad reputation for acting like thugs. Quite a few people have been killed or injured in their dealings with police officers. This case, in which the mom did care enough about her child to seek medical help for him, only to lose custody of him and her other children after a police standoff, does not improve that tarnished image. Moreover, it did turn out the children weren’t that sick, and their father had a justifiable concern about how much an emergency room visit would cost. Medical care in the United States is extremely expensive, particularly for the many people who still lack adequate health insurance.

People should be able to count on medical people and police for help when they need it. I think most police officers and medical professionals care about the people they serve, but I can also see why some people justifiably fear them. It seems like in the United States these days, it’s all too easy to end up on the wrong side of the law. We incarcerate more people in our prisons, many of which are privately owned and operate for profit, than any other nation. Ultimately, I think the better goal is to try to keep families together and strive to support them, rather than threaten them.

While I grant that these parents weren’t cooperating with the authorities and something needed to be done, I also think that the children in this story will forever be left with the image of their parents being arrested and being sent to foster care in separate homes. That will probably cause lasting damage. What is also worrying is the perception among other people that if they seek help, they might eventually be arrested in a very dramatic way. It doesn’t help that in the United States today, people are very quick to call CPS for any reason at all. People have lost custody of their children simply for letting them walk to school by themselves or play alone in their front yards.

I did read that this couple had been in touch with CPS more than once. I do think that they should be investigated. I don’t agree with the super dramatic police response, though, especially since it’s now all over the media. Just my opinion. I feel like there should be more room for parents to exercise their judgment when it comes to taking care of their children, even if I can also see why the authorities were legitimately concerned in this case. The good news is, it looks like the children are back to normal health, even if they aren’t in their parents’ care.