The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

November 25, 2012

The case of the unproductive wife

You be the judge

RICHMOND — John wanted his home to be a real Fatherland. Hoping for kids all over the place, his wife suddenly brought his dream to a screeching halt – after only one pair of off-springs – by having an operation that prevented further pregnancies.

Alternating between outrage and disappointment, John sued the surgeon and hospital for performing the operation.

“An American home is sound,” he pointed out to a judge, “only if the sound comes from lots of children. By performing the operation, I’ve been deprived of a productive wife without my consent.”

“While we may have divested his wife of something,” was the defense, “we deprived John of nothing. His wife wanted the operation performed, so we performed it. If John has a gripe, it’s with his wife, and not with us.”

IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE, would you make the surgeon and hospital pay for depriving John of a productive wife?

This is how the judge ruled: NO! The judge held that he was neither prepared to create a right in a husband to have a fertile wife nor to allow recovery for damage to such a right. A wife who is capable of consent, noted the judge, has a right to control her own body.

(Based upon a 1974 Oklahoma Court of Appeals Decision)

Jack Strauss, a retired New York City trial attorney who now resides in Berea, wrote a syndicated column for 36 years called, “What’s the Law?” It appeared in papers coast to coast, including the Pittsburgh Press, the Los Angeles Examiner, the Hartford Times, the Kansas City Star and the Philadelphia Daily News, among many others. It appears here with his permission.

Copyright, 1978, United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

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