by Lisa Fogarty
Jessie Lee Herald is the father of seven children from at least six different women -- though the 27-year-old Virginia man's own friends have trouble keeping track of the exact number of kids he has fathered. This month he was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for child endangerment, hit and run, and driving with a suspended license. At the time of his accident, Herald was with his 3-year-old son, who was reportedly "bloodied," but not seriously injured.
You may think this dad deserves to serve his sentence and even more time -- and I agree. But wait until you hear the one condition the judge offered him in exchange for a lesser sentence: Herald has to get a vasectomy.
Here's the offer Herald just couldn't refuse: he has up to one year after being released from prison to get his tubes tied. He has to pay for the $1,000 procedure out of pocket, and he is not allowed to reverse the vasectomy while he's on probation.
Herald's attorney said the plea bargain was not a "no-brainer" for his client and that he had several questions about whether it was ethical for a judge to even propose this.
Let me answer that: it is not ethical. It is not within a court's right to decide who should or should not have children. I'm not going to lie -- I've met people and thought, this person shouldn't be allowed to reproduce. And I think that a lot when I come across any mom or dad who had children and then refused to provide for them -- emotionally or financially.
But I'm not that person's maker and it isn't within my right -- or a judge's -- to determine whether their desire to breed is right or wrong -- or whether their spawn is worthy of sharing this planet with us. If we let someone decide who should have kids and who shouldn't, we're pretty much saying there's one golden standard to which all parents should adhere.
This opens the doors to the government having even more control over our lives and bodies. If someone argues that Herald's children become society's problem because he isn't taking care of them, my response is: stop providing government assistance to families who have proven they can't handle the responsibility of parenthood. I'd much rather see a court force this man to work and provide a service to others (or else face jail time) and then give the money he earned to his children then hear he had a court-ordered vasectomy.
Do you think a court should be allowed to offer a lighter prison sentence in exchange for sterilization?