A prominent abortion rights group has come to the aid of a mother accused of nearly starving her two children to death.
Jan Scott was arrested last week and charged with child neglect for refusing to feed her daughter, age 5, and son, age 3. It is unclear how long the children went without eating. School officials alerted police after one child complained to her teacher about not having eaten for several days.
The children have been placed in foster care and are recovering from weight loss and other problems.
Meanwhile, the Radical Front for Abortion Rights, a moderate pro-choice group, has come to the defense of Scott. Allie Booker, president of RFAR, said Scott’s children have no constitutional rights and hence no protection from abuse or neglect.
“These so-called ‘children’ are nothing more than highly developed fetuses, and it is the mother’s right to abort them if she wishes.” Booker says that even though the children have been born for several years, their status as fetuses has not changed.
Legal analysts say the group’s defense of Scott appears to run head on with children’s rights activists. Booker, however, says that laws protecting children only apply to wanted children.
“Whether a child is wanted makes all the legal difference in the world between a child and a highly developed fetus,” she said. “There’s nothing immoral about destroying a human being if no one wants it around.”
Booker says Scott’s actions clearly show she didn’t want her children, so child protection laws don’t apply. She has asked that the abuse charges be dropped, arguing that the accusation against Scott is an attempt to infringe upon her reproductive choice.
Michelle Sells of Pro-Life Americans United, an anti-abortion group, disagrees.
“It is very clear that these are children, with legal rights,” Sells said. “And being wanted makes no difference.”
Sells and other anti-choice activists are highly critical of Booker, who is known for taking controversial positions. Booker has often accused pro-life politicians of hate crimes for taking positions she deems hostile to women.
For her part, Booker contends that abortion rights are on the line and must be protected.
“If mothers can be prosecuted for destroying their fetuses, then logically all of their civil rights will be utterly destroyed,” Booker said.
Dale Madden, chairman of International Citizens for Life, argues that all Americans’ rights are in jeopardy if children are not legally recognized as having inalienable rights.
“Where does it end? What age does it stop at?” he said. “If three- and five-year-olds have no rights, then neither do 10-year-olds, 11-year-olds, or 50-year-olds.”
Madden and others have petitioned the District Attorney in this case to prosecute Scott to the fullest extent of the law. “Children deserve rights and deserve to be protected from abuse,” he said.
Booker contends that Madden’s real motive is a desire to restrict the legal rights of women.
“This is not an issue for any man to have any opinion about, unless his opinion agrees with those of women who agree with me,” she said.
But Sells doesn’t see it that way. “I am a woman and I am pro-life,” she said.
The fate of the Scott children remains unclear. An official with the foster home now in custody of the children said they would like to see them adopted.