A mother of seven who has been battling drug addiction decided to get sterilized after a judge suggested that he might be easier on her sentencing for fraud charges if she underwent the procedure.
According to The Washington Post, 34-year-old Summer Thyme Creel, a mother from Oklahoma, pleaded guilty for making and cashing a counterfeit check last year. When Creel failed to attend her sentencing in June, US District Judge Stephen Friot looked at her pre-sentence report and noted she was a crack cocaine and methamphetamine user.
And that's when Friot decided to make the unprecedented suggestion. In his order, Friot mentioned that Creel had given up the right to six of her seven children and that he believed she had used drugs while pregnant with her children.
Friot concluded his order by saying that at the next sentencing, “Ms. Creel may, if (and only if) she chooses to do so, present medical evidence to the court establishing that she has been rendered incapable of procreation.”
So in November, Creel had the elective procedure.
"I spoke with her in detail about it and she voluntarily wanted to do it," Creel’s attorney Brett Behenna told News Oklahoma.
Assistant US Attorney Jessica Perry is trying to get the judge to go back on his word, urging him not to take the sterilization procedure into consideration during Creel’s sentencing.
"Creel not only has a fundamental constitutional right to procreate ... but she admits that she had an interest in an elective sterilization procedure even before the court's order of June 16," Perry wrote in a sentencing statement.
Eesha Pandit, a managing partner of the Center for Advancing Innovative Policy, told the Washington Post that although the judge didn’t force Creel to get sterilized, his suggestion reminds her of America’s state-run sterilization programs that ended decades ago.
“This case harkens to a long legacy of coercive reproductive policies and practices,” she said. “For decades, sterilization was used as a way to control populations considered ‘undesirable’ — immigrants, people of color, poor people, those with mental illnesses and disabilities. Tying Ms. Creel’s sentencing to her sterilization formalizes the coercion — the threat of a harsher sentence is manipulative and dangerous, and aligns with a legacy of eugenic practices through the US.”
[Photo: Oklahoma City Police Department]