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Do you think family planning is not a community concern? Is it simply to be left to the would-be parents, and that it’s nobody else’s business? Is there is no such thing as being ready to have kids, or not have kids?

You may want to consider stories like this:

Horrific stories of abuse began spilling from some of the couple’s 15 children after police began investigating a case that led to a charge of assault with a deadly weapon against an adult child, according to The Associated Press. San Juan County sheriff’s detectives described the Crouch home as a house of horrors where family members were abused, tortured and forced to witness extreme animal cruelty.  A teenage daughter told police that after one of the family dogs gave birth, the mother “took the puppies and put them into a giant pot and boiled them, making all the kids watch,” according to court documents.

It still remains to be seen whether the allegations are true. But stories like this should make us question the taboo against talking about the need by communities to support better family planning. They have a role to play in helping to ensure that would-be parents wait until they are ready to become parents and plan for smaller families to focus their attention and resources on the children they have. 

Victims of abuse suffer lifelong trauma that hurts others as well. Their communities and future children are affected. The consequences can manifest as homelessness, criminal behavior, substance abuse, and transmission of abuse onto others. It’s not a private issue. We should all be concerned about preventing abuse.  

Abuse happens because of poor family planning. We can be proactive rather than reactive. We can create better family planning policies. And in cases of egregious abuse, Fair Start orders can be instituted as a non-coercive solution to ensure that those parents complete rehabilitation before having more kids.

Ask Congress to amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to include a Fair Start Amendment. 

Email Ranking Member senator Patty Murray

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