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The judge talks about Norplant.

Following my article in the last issue on "Birth Control, Culture and the Control of Women" I was fascinated to read an interview with Judge Howard Broadman, who was the target of an assassination attempt for sentencing a California woman to have her doctor put Norplant in her arm to keep her from having children for three years instead of going to jail in a child abuse conviction.

The man who walked into Broadman's courtroom in Visalia, California last March and fired a single shot, which missed the judge's head by three inches, was apparently motivated by religious objections to contraception, the article states.

Others took less violent objections to Broadman's ruling, stating that it exceeded his authority and impermissibly interfered with the defendant's privacy rights, unconstitutionally trying to establish state control over a woman's reproductive rights. The sentence is currently under appeal.

"I had a philosophical dilemma," Broadman recalled. "Invading a human being's body is a big step. But locking somebody up in prison is also a big step. Clearly, I could just have locked her up for four years, but I thought it would be better to try to keep the family [four children, plus Johnson was pregnant with her fifth] together, to see if she could get her act together. I thought that not having more children for the next three years would help in her potential rehabilitation."

Broadman is known for his innovative and unconventional sentences, in which he tries "to make the punishment fit the individual." He says, "Society expects two things from me. It wants to be protected from criminals, and it wants me to produce crime-free individuals. If I can introduce some accountability into the individual, then maybe we can get accountability into the system as well." Since the assassination attempt, Broadman has removed himself from any further involvement in the Johnson case.

--from "Did the Judge Go Too Far?" by Michael Ryan, Parade Magazine, Sept. 1, 1991, pp.8-9.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Association of Labor Assistants & Childbirth Educators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Judge Howard Broadman, who sentenced a convicted child abuser to have contraceptive implant
Author:Baldwin, Rahima
Publication:Special Delivery
Article Type:Interview
Date:Sep 22, 1991
Words:327
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