Iowa Court Overturns Pregnancy Ban

     (CN) — The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a woman convicted of harming her child cannot be prohibited from getting pregnant while on probation.
     Stephanie Fatland, now 24, was charged with three counts of child endangerment in August 2014 in connection to allegations that she had shaken and injured her 5-month-old baby on three occasions.
     Fatland pleaded guilty to two counts of child endangerment resulting in bodily injury, and the third count was dismissed through a plea bargain. The state also agreed to stand silent at sentencing in exchange for the guilty plea.
     Floyd County, Iowa, District Judge Drew James gave her a suspended five-year prison sentence on each count and put her on probation for five years with the conditions that she could not have any unsupervised contact with children under the age of 5 or become pregnant.
     Drew rejected Fatland’s request to reconsider the second probation condition, finding that “temporarily prohibiting the defendant from becoming pregnant is directly related to the defendant’s criminal conduct and her rehabilitative needs,” according to court records.
     Fatland took her case to the Iowa Court of Appeals, where she argued that the pregnancy ban infringes on her constitutionally protected right to bear children.
     The appeals court agreed with Fatland on Wednesday, citing numerous previous cases where such bans were found unreasonable and overturned.
     “We determine the condition of prohibiting Fatland from becoming pregnant while on probation should be eliminated from the sentencing order. The condition impinges upon her fundamental right to procreation,” Judge Thomas Bower wrote for a three-judge panel.
     Bower also vacated the ban on Fatland having unsupervised contact with children under the age of 5. He ordered the lower court to, on remand, “create a more realistic and precise condition on her probation regarding contact with young children.”
     The condition should contain an exception for incidental contact with children in public places where other adults are present, the judge said.
     “The condition should not jeopardize the safety of the community and her rehabilitation, but at the same time, it should not be overbroad and unduly restrictive of her freedom and autonomy,” Bower wrote in the six-page ruling.
     The appeals court kept Fatland’s two convictions intact, but remanded the case for resentencing.

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