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Unborn is Ruled Abused Child

By Ellen Tumposky
Originally published in the Daily News, July 21, 1988

A Westchester County judge has found an unborn baby to be a neglected child and ordered the mother—who had abused or neglected seven previous children—to give up the baby at birth.

Andrew Vachss, attorney for the fetus, said the mother—a woman in her 30's identified only as Deborah B.—was in labor yesterday. When the child is born, it will be handed over to child-welfare authorities, who have three days to ask a judge to place the baby officially in foster care.

In his decision, Family Court Judge Louis Barone said Deborah B., who is unemployed and on welfare, "has not improved her situation by one iota" since losing her rights to six of her seven children in previous cases.

The children, ranging in age from five to 15, are either adopted or in foster care. A seventh child was abducted at gunpoint by her father, and her whereabouts are unknown.

The father of Deborah B.'s unborn child is a suspected crack abuser. They are not married.

In his decision, Barone said: "To submit this child to a 'trial period' with its mother in the hope that it will not be harmed is not a chance that this court wishes to take."

Vachss, a well-known child advocate, said he had represented the mother's other children. When he learned she was pregnant again, he said, "I realized that all she'd have to do was get on a Greyhound bus and go to Newark" and the county would lose jurisdiction over the new baby.

He described Deborah B. as a "sociopath" who "feels no pain but her own." He said she had beaten her children with blunt objects.

Vachss—who has twice before obtained neglect findings on behalf of a fetus—said the mother will be able to visit the baby but that he would seek to terminate her parental rights.

Under the Family Court Act, prior neglect of other children is grounds for removing a newborn from a mother.

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