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An egregious case of child abuse in Texas made national headlines in February when authorities discovered two children held in a dog cage and two more malnourished and living in filth. While the parents’ case moves through the legal system, the national child-protection organization ​Having Kids​ is urging Governor Greg Abbott to take immediate action to stem the tide of child abuse in Texas. The organization sent a letter to Governor Abbott encouraging him to adopt a new and better approach to child welfare and family planning, beginning with Fair Start orders.

Fair Start orders can be issued at a judge’s discretion, in the event of conviction and probation, to prevent a party from having children for a limited time period as a condition of probation. The state would not consider putting helpless children back into a convicted abuser’s care; the state should similarly consider the right of a child not to be born to a known abuser for a period of probationary time.

We are offering to assist Governor Abbott and relevant Texas agencies in implementing new policies to prevent child abuse.

Having Kids wants more for the children of Texas than the state’s after-the-fact reaction to such horrible abuse. Erika Mathews, Executive Director of  ​Having Kids​ says, “Texas is currently embroiled in a class action lawsuit regarding the failures of its foster care system, and the state regularly has more child abuse deaths than the national average. It’s time for the state to fulfill its obligations to present and future children by moving toward a human-rights based and child-first family planning policies.”

The current model of family planning – which makes having and raising kids the exclusive business of the parents – ignores every child’s right to a minimum standard of wellbeing not only at birth, but throughout childhood. The parent-centered family planning and parenting paradigm is a violation of the rights of children to be protected. Instead, Texas must move toward the Fair Start model, which will benefit children and the state. Fair Start orders are a first step.

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