Last week, a woman dropped her three young sons into the San Francisco Bay. The children were six and two years old and six months old. Lashaun Harris, 23, is pleading not guilty to three counts of murder with special circumstances. The murders would make her eligible for the death penalty.
Stories about mothers who kill their children always break my heart. Not only are they distressing, but they prove something I've always known in the back of my mind: not all of us are fit to procreate.
I'll give some background of this woman based on information I gathered from a news story at www.msnbc.com. She has a history of mental illness and was taking the drug Haldol to control schizophrenia. She stopped taking the drug because she got her symptoms under control. Also, because the oldest child killed was six years old, I'm estimating she was around 17 when she gave birth to him. The father of the children wasn't even mentioned in the story, so the chance these children had different fathers is very likely.
Harris lived in a homeless shelter at the time she dropped her sons into the bay. Obviously, the economic aspect of her life wasn't in good shape, and I'm guessing she probably lived most of her life like this. If that is true, then I am asking what on earth made it okay for this woman to have three children?
Every day, children are born into families who can't support them. Sometimes poverty is the issue, or the parents of these children are emotionally and/or physically unfit to raise a child. Obviously these parents can have sex whenever and with whomever they choose, but they can't deal with the consequences. As much as I hate the idea of using abortion as birth control, in some cases it is the best option. I would rather hear of an unviable fetus being aborted than hear of a mother who drowns her children.
For all of you conservatives who are for tax cuts but oppose abortion, think about it. Do you like the idea of your taxes going to support welfare to pay for the lives of these children who are probably starving anyway? And do you think this woman who dropped her sons in the bay is paying for her own defense lawyer? No, she is living in homeless shelter for crying out loud. We can't ethically sterilize everyone we believe is unfit to be a parent because that is unjust and suggestive of excessive government control. So we have to look at our alternatives.
I think Bill Clinton was on the right track. After all, he did sign "The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996" into law. The plan promoted making welfare a transition to working as opposed to a way of life. We can't tell people not to have kids, but maybe we can try to steer them towards a better, more hardworking way of life. If the parents are living a better lifestyle, then it should only follow that these children's standard of living will rise as well.
There are few crimes that anger me more than crimes done to children. Children aren't allowed to choose their parents, and unfortunately many of them are born into horrible living situations that are out of their control. I can't imagine having a father who rapes me or a mother who would sell me to buy crack. It's safe to say there are some people who should never reproduce, ever. But this is America. We can tell minors they can't get a tattoo, but we can't tell people they are not allowed to have children.
Megan Schulz is a sophomore technical journalism major. Her column runs every Tuesday in the Collegian.