Bargaining is a regular occurrence in life, as negotiation and compromise are crucial to achieving acceptable outcomes. We’ve all given something to get something in return. For Summer Creel of Oklahoma, she gave up her reproductive rights in order to receive a reduced prison sentence.
Ms. Creel is a 34 year old mother of seven, who was convicted of using a counterfeit check at Walmart. Not a stranger to the court system, Creel’s parental rights to six of her seven children have been terminated, and this certainly wasn’t her first arrest. She has a long history of using crack cocaine and methamphetamine, and tested positive for methamphetamine as recent as December 2017.
U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot noted that Creel’s drug abuse corresponded with when she was pregnant, stating that “with the dates of birth of her seven children, it appears highly likely that some of Ms. Creel’s children were conceived, carried and born while Ms. Creel was a habitual user of these illicit substances.”
Creel was facing up to 10 years in federal prison for the counterfeit check crime, but Judge Friot came up with what he believed was a win-win. If Creel agreed to be medically sterilized, thereby preventing the chance that she would become pregnant in the future, he would reduce her sentence.
Both the Assistant US Attorney and Creel’s defense attorney agreed that she was interested in being medically sterilized prior to the judge’s suggestion, and did so freely in November 2017. Honoring his word, Friot sentenced Creel to one year in federal prison and three years of supervised release. She also has to pay over $15,000 in restitution.
The fact that a judge would even suggest a defendant be sterilized has created significant controversy, with some saying the suggestion never would have happened if the defendant was a man. Friot has defended his behavior, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court "has yet to recognize a constitutional right to bring crack- or methamphetamine-addicted babies into this world." I guess that is all the justification the court needed.