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Friday, Aug. 26, 2016

Take responsibility or face consequence

Tuesday, October 8, 2002

He's 34 years-old. No education. No money. Prison record. Nine children by a half-dozen different women. He's at least $25,000 behind in child support payments. And he wanted the Supreme Court of the United States to overturn a lower court ruling that would have imposed an eight-year jail sentence if he had another child. To their credit, the high court declined to hear the case.

I don't pretend that this extreme example is the most severe problem facing America but in so many ways, it really is. David Oakley argued that it was unconstitutional for the government to limit his right to have children. As part of his 1999 conviction for skipping out on court-ordered child support payments, Oakley agreed not to have additional children. The court recognized that he most certainly couldn't support the nine he had already fathered. The court said: "Here is a man who has shown himself time and again to be totally and completely irresponsible. It is overwhelmingly obvious that any child he fathers in the future is doomed to a future of neglect, abuse or worse."

Sad to say but there are millions of David Oakleys in this country and no small amount right here in our region and community. It is their children who often fill the rolls of government assistance and burden the health delivery system on a daily basis. And though the ACLU and others disagree, society and the courts have every right to demand that their irresponsible actions cease.

The Supreme Court declined to hear the case which means the state court ruling will stand. In some ways we had hoped they would listen and rule on a federal level that indeed courts can impose sanctions of procreation if child support guidelines are not followed.

For all of its noble intents, society is getting sick and tired of paying for others' irresponsible actions. Even with the most compassionate attitude, society is recognizing that this enormous cost is taking precious financial resources from other needs that are just as great if not greater. So when the David Oakleys of the world decide to have their 10th children with no hope of assisting in the upbringing of that child, there is a severe penalty to pay. And David Oakley will have difficulty fathering a child in his prison cell.

This is not an issue of poverty. This is an issue of responsibility. An inability to support a child is one thing. Bringing nine children into this world with no ability to support them is another issue. Society needs to pay attention to this court case and use it as a model for others. Either take responsibility for your actions or face the consequences. It's that simple.

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