Eric Ziegler and his partner, Amy Fabbrini, have below-average IQs…well below average. His IQ is 72 and hers is 66. After Amy delivered their son Christopher in 2013, other family members, especially Amy’s estranged father, alerted Oregon’s child welfare agency that the couple might not be fit parents. The Department of Human Services’ investigation found no signs of abuse or neglect. However,
In reports of concerns about the couple’s parenting skills, a MountainStar [a nonprofit Oregon group devoted to helping prevent child abuse] worker recalled having to prompt them to have Christopher wash his hands after using the toilet and to apply sunscreen to all of his skin rather than just his face. Fabbrini and Ziegler’s attorneys argue these weren’t sufficient reasons to keep them from their son.
Based on this, Christopher (shown above with his parents) was removed from the couple and placed in foster care, where he remains.
The couple’s second son, Hunter, was removed by the state while Fabbrini was still in the hospital, with Oregon citing the couple’s “limited cognitive abilities that interfere with [their] ability to safely parent the child.”
Your Ethic Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day…
Is Oregon’s removal of this couple’s children based solely on the parents’ low IQ scores ethical?
Before someone makes the argument, no, Oregon would not remove children from parents based solely on not reminding kids to wash their hands or use sun screen if the parents were not cognitively-challenged.
Reason, reporting on the treatment of the parents, writes,
[The Story in the Oregonian (linked above)] describes Ziegler and Fabbrini’s hard work in improving their parenting skills. It quotes other experts who are helping them and who believe the couple is capable of raising children. One volunteer mediator said she told caseworkers that she believed the couple was capable of raising Christopher. Her conclusion conflicted with the position taken by officials, and subsequently, she says, they told her that her services were “no longer needed.”
America, sadly, has a lengthy history of using state power to interfere in intellectually disabled people’s lives. What happened to this couple isn’t as bad as what might have happened to them a century ago, where people with low IQs were often forcibly sterilized. Today Fabbrini and Ziegler’s boys are hardly the only children to have been taken by the government because their parents have learning disabilities. Or any disabilities, honestly. According to the National Council of Disabilities, in 35 states it is perfectly legal to use a disability as a reason to terminate an adult’s parental rights. The council calculates that between 40 and 80 percent of parents with intellectual disabilities have faced having their children removed. (They don’t have more precise numbers because of a lack of research data.) One expert quoted in The Oregonian noted that IQ doesn’t really correlate with parenting problems until it drops below 50. And yet parents are losing custody of their children over fears of what might happen.
Yup. This is pre-crime, discrimination, and nascent totalitarianism…strangely from one of the Western Empires of the Left, Oregon, where Government is Wise and Beneficent. What has been done to Eric and Amy is heartbreaking and wrong. Anyone defending this obtrusive state action had better be prepared to explain why surrendering more and more autonomy and personal responsibility to government doesn’t inevitably lead to such abuses.
For it follows as the night follows day.
(Now excuse me; I think I’m going to cry.)