Indiana Court Rules Lesbian Partner Must Pay Child Support

In February, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that a lesbian woman must pay child support for a child conceived by her partner before the two separated.

In 1997, the woman adopted her partner’s in 1997 when the two were involved in a relationship. After the relationship dissolved, the biological mother of the children sought and received a child support order while the non-biological mother sought to dissolve the adoption.

Lower courts had overturned the support order, but the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the order. Judge John G. Baker wrote in a 22-page ruling that,

Whether a person is a man or a woman, homosexual or heterosexual, or adoptive or biological, in assuming that role, a person also assumes certain responsibilities, obligations, and duties. That person may not simply choose to shed the parental mantle because it becomes inconvenient, seems ill-advised in retrospect, or becomes burdensome because of a deterioration in the relationship with the children’s other parent.

Baker’s ruling followed a November 2004 case in which the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled that same sex partners could adopt the children of their partners and still retain parental rights


State Appeals Court Extends Parental Rights to Gay Woman. Associated Press, November 29, 2004.

Lesbian Ordered to Pay Child Support. Associated Press, February 18, 2005.

Lesbian Partner Ordered to Pay Child Support. Axcess News, February 19, 2005.

Sky High Malpractice Insurance Closing Obstetrics Wards

In June the American Hospital Association released a troubling survey of hospitals and health care organizations around the country. Fully 20 percent of the institutions surveyed had cut back on services and 6 percent had eliminated some units outright as a response to the increasing cost of medical malpractice insurance.

The malpractice issue has especially hit obstetrics wards and obstetricians hard. Obstetrics is a marginal money maker at best, and the incredibly high cost of insurance is leading some hospitals to curtail or outright close their obstetrics units.

The New York Times report on the survey notes that at least 6 hospitals around the country closed their obstetrics wards this summer. Some rural clinics have gone out of business altogether.

How expensive is medical malpractice insurance? According to The Times, the worst places for obstetricians is currently Florida. In Fort Lauderdale and Miami, the cost of insurance for obstetricians run as high as $200,000 per year.

Hospitals now pay massive bills for medical malpractice insurance. Philadelphia’s Thomas Jefferson University Hospital was hit with a $32 million bill this year for its insurance. It responded by closing the maternity unit at a South Philadelphia hospital it operates.

And what is truly shocking is that most of the larger feminist organizations are silent on the topic. The National Organization for Women, for example, spends a lot of time and money defending abortion providers, but has done nothing to highlight the problems faced by obstetricians from medical malpractice lawsuits.

In fact, the only time the issue of malpractice insurance reform is mentioned on NOW’s web site is to ridicule a statement by George W. Bush’s about his medical malpractice reform efforts while he was governor of Texas.

It’s a shame that NOW and other feminist organizations can’t make women’s access to obstetricians as high a priority as women’s access to abortion providers.


Rise in insurance forces hospitals to shutter wards. Joseph B. Treaster, The New York Times, August 25, 2002.

Bushisms. National Organization for Women, Accessed: September 10, 2002.

Supreme Court Declines to Consider Odd Child Support Case

On January 7, 2002, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of Morgan Wise who was ordered by a Texas court to pay child support even though DNA tests confirm he cannot possibly be the father of the boy named in the support order.

Wise’s case started in 1999 when his youngest son, Rauli, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that can occur when both father and mother carry a defective gene. Genetic testing showed, however, that Wise was not a carrier of that gene.

Further paternity tests showed that Wise was the biological father of only one of the four children born during his marriage to Wanda Fryar. The two divorced in 1996.

But as far as family courts in Texas were concerned, the paternity tests were completely irrelevant. Under common law that dates back hundreds of years, all children born within a marriage are presumed to be biologically related to the father, end of story. This may have made a lot of sense when it was literally impossible to prove paternity, but those days are long since past.

States vary widely on when paternity can be disputed. In some states, disputing paternity must be done within the first few years after a child is born. Other states have laws allowing fathers to introduce genetic evidence at any time to avoid paying child support for children whom they are not biologically related.

Jeffery Leving of the Fatherhood Education Institute argues that the Wise’s case represents a sexist approach to the obligations of parenthood. Leving writes,

What would happen if we applied the same twisted logic to a woman married to a man who fathered a child from an extramarital affair? Would we proclaim that because she was married to her husband, she is the legal mother of the child born of the affair and force her to financially support another woman’s child? We would do no such thing, yet there are men who are court ordered to pay in the analogous situation.

Leving notes that Ohio, Colorado, Iowa and Louisiana all have laws which allow men to be released from child support requirements if DNA testing proves they are not the biological father of the children named in support awards. Leving argues that the mothers in these cases should pursue the legitimate fathers of the children for child support, which certainly seems to make a lot more sense than forcing deceived fathers to continue to pay child support.


In genetic testing for paternity, law often lags behind science. Tamar Lewin, The New York Times, March 11, 2001.

U.S. Supreme Court decision ignores men’s rights. Jeffery Leving, Fatherhood Educational Institute, January 15, 2002.

NOW’s Abortion Lawsuit Threatens Freedom of Expression

The fundamental problem with American
politics is that it is largely unprincipled. Groups and lobbies often
seem more interested in getting their own outcome — regardless of the
methods they need to use.

This simple maxim was underscored
with last week’s unanimous Supreme Court ruling that Planned Parenthood
could sue Operation Rescue and other pro-life groups under the Racketeer-Influenced
and Corrupt Organization laws. Planned Parenthood’s “victory”
is nothing less than a stunning blow to the very freedom and choices that
the organization pretends to cherish so deeply.

RICO was passed in 1970 in an effort
to give prosecutors a bigger weapon against organized crime. Congress
wanted to make it easier to go after legitimate businesses that had been
infiltrated and controlled by organized crime outfits.

RICO never did make much of an
impact on organized crime, but prosecutors and other groups were more
than willing to use its provisions for political purposes. The Reagan
administration, for example, encouraged the use of the RICO statutes to
crack down on pornography.

In 1988, The Nation reported
the story of Dennis and Barbara Pryba who owned three adult bookstores.
In 1987 they were charged and found guilty of selling six obscene magazines
and four obscene videotapes. Under RICO, which only requires two criminal
acts to apply, this made the couple an organized crime racket and the
government seized over $1 million in property from the couple.

Reagan’s Attorney General Ed
Meese set up a special anti-obscenity task force whose sole purpose was
to use the RICO laws to drive adult bookstores out of business.

What Meese and Reagan never understood
was that restricting speech can cut both ways.

When a machinists’ union claimed
that Texas Air was violating airline safety rulings, Texas Air promptly
sued the union claming that such criticism constituted “a pattern
of racketeering activity.”

When John Spear, editor of a small
weekly newspaper in New York criticized the way police in West Hartford,
Conn., handled abortion protesters, West Hartford sued him under the RICO
statute, claiming his editorials were an attempt to intimidate West Hartford
police. They argued that Spear’s damaging criticisms constituted
an extortion attempt.

And now the Supreme Court has ruled
that RICO may be used against antiabortion groups.

The National Organization for Women
argued that Operation Rescue had engaged in a conspiracy of racketeering
to run abortion clinics out of business. Operation Rescue concedes it
want to see abortion clinics out of business, but argued that since its
motivation was political and not economic, RICO could not be used against
the organization. The Supreme Court ruled that the motivation of the group
is immaterial to whether or not RICO may be applied.

NOW’s case against Operation
Rescue will now go to trial. If it can convince a jury that blocking entrances
to abortion clinics constitutes a form of extortion, or if it can tie
a couple members of Operation Rescue to other criminal acts, such as bomb
threats, it can probably put Operation Rescue out of business.

This is a horrible application
of RICO and one that will be felt in other areas besides the conflict
over abortion.

“Under this decision, Martin
Luther King Jr. would have been a racketeer,” Randall Terry, founder
of Operation Rescue, told The New York Times. “What I’d
say to the AIDS activists, the anti-nuclear groups, the animal rights
people, is get your affairs in order and line up, because you’re

If abortion clinics can use the
RICO statutes against abortion protesters, what’s to stop corporations
from using it against animal rights protesters?

“Animal rights activists sometimes
use peaceful, non-violent protests … and we’re concerned that this
kind of decisions is going to chill that First Amendment activity,”
Todd Davis, a lawyer for People for the Treatment of Animals, told USA

In fact NOW might eventually find
itself on the other side of the RICO law.

Given the shaky grounds that Roe
v. Wade was construed on, and the clear desire by some Supreme Court justices
to overturn the decision, it’s not inconceivable that the Supreme
Court might turn the issue of abortion back to the states. Operation Rescue
then might find use for this law in going after pro-abortion groups and

By attacking Operation Rescue with
RICO, NOW has demonstrated that achieving its short-term political aims
is more important than preserving the First Amendment protection guaranteed
to all Americans.

Someday, NOW might regret that