This couple may have lost custody of their kids because they weren’t smart enough

Screenshot, The Oregonian YouTube

A screenshot from The Oregonian. Oregon’s case raises questions about parental rights, child needs, and the limits of state power.

An Oregon couple lost custody of their two young children after the state decided they were not mentally capable of raising the children, the Portland Oregonian reports.

The father of the children, Eric Ziegler, does not work and receives Social Security disability support for mental disability. He is estimated to have an IQ of 66, with 90-110 being average.

The mother, Amy Fabbrini, did not know she was pregnant with the older of the two boys until she was in advanced labor, mistaking her discomfort for a kidney condition. The child was born at home. According to court documents, Fabbrini tested at a 72 IQ.

Yet plenty of people have vouched for the parenting potential of both parents, including a state legislator, though Fabbrini’s father has argued against the couple, saying Fabbrini “doesn’t have the instincts to be a mother.” No evidence of abuse or neglect has been found, the Oregonian reported, but the state child welfare agency cited “limited cognitive abilities that interfere with (their) ability to safely parent the child” when they put the children in foster care and subsequently decided to make them available for adoption.

“I honestly don’t understand why they can’t have their children,” Fabbrinni’s aunt, Lenora Turner, said. “I go to the grocery store and I see other people with their children and they’re standing up in the grocery cart … and I think, how come they get to keep their children? How do they decide whose child they’re going to take and whose child can stay?”

Barring low IQ parents from having or raising children has a controversial history, reaching back to the eugenics movement early in the 20th century. The most famous expression of this came in the words of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, who wrote in a 1927 decision approving the forced sterilization of a “feeble minded” woman: “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

Since that time, the pendulum…

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