Freedom*

Americans talk a lot about freedom in general, but often skimp on specifics.

One of those specifics is the freedom to travel between states. Law-abiding Americans can do this whenever we like, without impediment. This freedom is so intrinsic that the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled against things like residency requirements for welfare, health care, and voting in state elections because they place an impermissible burden on the right to travel.

So let’s say it’s today in the United States, and you’re seven months pregnant. You and the father are no longer together, and are in fact in the midst of a custody battle for the yet-unborn child.

You decide you don’t want to be both a single mom and a firefighter (your job before and during the relationship,) so you move from California to New York to attend Columbia University, which offers support for parent-students through a program for “talented women and men who follow an untraditional path to higher education.” The father files an objection with the California court, which then grants him full custody, because your “appropriation of the child while in utero was irresponsible, reprehensible.” Essentially, the court is saying that particular Constitutional right doesn’t apply to pregnant women.

That’s what happened to Sara McKenna, who had a brief relationship with Olympian Bode  Miller in 2012.

A New York appellate court has overturned the ruling, stating “putative fathers have neither the right nor the ability to restrict a pregnant woman from her constitutionally protected liberty,” and further ruled that it, and not the California court, now has jurisdiction over the custody case. The California judge has not ceded jurisdiction, and a case in New York to reverse the custody decision is pending.

In the meantime, the baby was born, Sara McKenna says Mr. Miller and his now-wife “came to her apartment, “took the baby out of my arms, dropped it in a car seat and drove away.”” She has seen the baby for a total of 10 days since then.

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