Friday, January 8, 2010

Tessa Savicki: An Intersection of Reproductive Rights and the Inefficacy of the Welfare System

There has been much uproar in MA about a woman named Tessa Savicki who is suing  Baystate Medical Center, 3 doctors, and 2 nurses for allegedly  permanently sterilizing  her against her will after the birth of her  9th son in 2006.  In the suit, she claims that she had signed a consent form for an IUD, but instead awoke to find out she had undergone a sterilization process called a tubal ligation. 

In this linked Boston Herald article, journalist Jessica Flagen writes:

This is the second time Savicki has sued over reproductive issues. In 2001, she reached a settlement with CVS and a spermicide company after she became pregnant with her now 12-year-old daughter after claiming she bought and used an expired spermicide, according to federal court documents.

Savicki has nine children from several men, is unemployed and relies on public assistance for two of the four children who live with her. She receives supplemental security income, or SSI, for a disability, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she said. Her mother has custody of three of her children.

Despite the fact that I would not have an abortion under any circumstance, as a woman I support reproductive choice. Choice, of course, being the operative word. The allegation of Ms. Savicki's right to choose being taken away raises serious concerns about the state of human rights in this country. Our bodies are our own; they are not our family's, our community's, our country's, and especially not our politicians to politicize for career gain. Our bodies and what we do we it are personal issues and nobody else's business.

That being said, I also understand some concerns about Ms. Savicki's  clear inability to provide a stable, healthy environment for her children. While I believe that the welfare system helps those who deservedly need it, I also believe that because the system is inherently flawed, it has been abused to the benefit of a few bad apples. Being in the welfare system has become an inheritance of sorts for some, wherein generations of the same family live off of it. This cyclical welfare dependency burdens an already floundering system, and encourages a sense of entitlement over self-reliance and accountability. The welfare system can only be effective when enacted short-term, but detrimental in the long run. The system must be changed so that people such as Ms. Savicki do not go around receiving benefits, unchecked. More stringent guidelines and limitations, as well as periodic and exhaustive reviews, must be implemented. In so doing, more jobs would be created for the understaffed and overworked social workers. As a taxpayer, I would much rather see my money go to funding more jobs to weed out welfare system abusers than go to the aforementioned welfare benefits abusers.

On another issue, I wonder about the fathers of Ms. Savicki's children. Save for her current fiancé who she claims has been helping to support her, there is no mention of Ms. Savicki's former boyfriends. What role, if any, do they play in their children's lives? From the articles, it could be inferred that these sperm donors, like Ms. Savicki, choose not to be accountable for their choices and decisions in life. If they are not paying alimony, it is unfair for the responsible members of society to take up their slack. Of course the children are innocent and should not be penalized for the sins of their parents; what I am saying is that these men and Ms. Savicki ought to find gainful employment and contribute to the  financial and mental well-being of their children. Yes, the unemployment rate is high given the economic crisis, but minimum wage jobs do exist. There is no shame in working the night shift at CVS or the nearby 24 hour McDonald's. So I wonder if it is an issue of not wanting to be employed and instead choosing to live off of the system because they  feel like they are entitled to it. Welfare is a form of aid and not a gift; it is intended as a crutch to help people rise from their disadvantaged circumstances and better themselves.

At the end of the day, I view Tessa Savicki's case as more than your average controversy. Her
story is about an intersection of violations on different levels: the possible violation of a woman's body and her right to choose, a man's  disregard for his responsibility to his children at the cost of taxpayers' money, and the abuse of an already weak welfare system. A
change must be enacted in the system itself to dissuade system abusers and would-be abusers. 


dontbefooled said...

The Life Of Tessa Savicki ::::::::::: Don't let her pull the wool over your eyes !!!!!

Let me give you some background on her..... Tessa has not for the most part raised any of the children except for the 3 little ones with her now. So no wonder she wants more.. She really never had 9 kids the rest of her family did !!!! Her eldest son was taken from her by DSS when he was 3 month old ( and she WAS NOT RAPED) She just doesn't know who his father is , his grandmother was able to get him back when he was 3... Once Tessa was on her own with him she had placed him in out of residential homes, until 2000 when her brother obtained custody of him and brought him home. At the same time the other 5 children where going to be removed from her home because she was instructed by DSS to remove her boyfriend from the home for domestic violence, she would not, so her mother obtained custody of all 5 of them in 2000 ( her youngest then was 4 months old). The 2 oldest have since become adults.. The other 3 to date still live with the grandmother. ((((( she is NOW trying to get them back because their father passed away in May,,, hmmm wonder if that has anything to do with the survivors benefits ??????? )))) She did ultimately split with the other children's father but he did not move out of the home , he just moved to the next room and the new boyfriends moved in.. Nice huh !!!! Which is her current boyfriend.. There was a history of drug use and domestic violence with the new boyfriend... She has had supervised visits ( every weekend ) with the children in her mothers care for a few yrs now and has only maybe seen them 4 times during this period .. She doesn't see them on holidays ( not a single x-mas gift nothing ) , birthday , nothing , she doesn't even try or she sets up a visit and then just doesn't show .. Yea that's a good mom. Leave your kids in the window crying, watching for mom who never shows up !!!! So no the story doesn't end there... She was diagnosed with Lymphoma AFTER he kids had already been gone for a yr contrary to her version..... But of course she want you all to believe she doesn't have them due to he illness .. THATS BULL !!!!! She then had another child then another , those children where taken temporarily by DSS ( from the hospital when the baby was born ) yet again because of the man she chose to have in her life. They were returned once she agreed to keep him out of the home ( which she did not) But never got caught .You know DSS being as smart as they are LOL . She had another baby by him which is the youngest DUH !!!! How did they think that happened. That's why the last baby carries the last name Flores, Its daddy's moms name.... To sum it up.... She had her first two, never had them around... Then had a whole new family, they split then the kids from that relationship where gone. The she yet again had a whole new family... Of course she doesn't want to be fixed.. What if this relationship doesn't work.. she cant start a whole new family with someone else and dump off these kids....She stated on CBS3 Springfield tonight that all these children share 2 fathers when they really have 4 different fathers..Do not let this girl fool you. All her kids were on the state at one point until they were no longer in her home anymore. Originally all were on aid...once all the kids were removed from her home in 2000 and placed with other family, she started a whole new family. And all the benefit checks started again.2 on welfare, 1 on SSI, 1 getting survivors benefits( RIP Gilberto )She says her man works,no he doesnt she is scamming Stavros.They pay him to take care of HER !!!!!

the UNchecked other said...

Thank you for this perspective, don't be fooled. You seem to know Tessa Savicki on a personal level, so I will defer to your insider knowledge about this situation.

As I stated on the blog, I have two impressions on her case: A) I empathize with her outrage over the alleged non-consensual sterilization, and B)She is further burdening a flawed welfare system with her unemployment and nine children. These seemingly contradictory views stem from my being both a womanist and a firm believer in self-reliance.

With regards to my second impression:

Tessa Savicki is not unique; there are many Tessa Savickis in the world. Part of the problem lies with the flawed welfare system that allows people like Ms. Savicki to fall through the cracks. Remember the case of a welfare recipient from Lawrence (or was it Methuen) who received Section 8, food stamps, WIC, and cash benefits? She was able to buy a Mercedes SUV by selling some of the food stamps. There was also something about Victoria's Secret underwear, but I forget what role it played exactly. But I digress.

Anyway...In my personal opinion, Ms. Savicki has the right to sue if her reproductive rights were indeed violated. She should, however, not be awarded any financial settlement if she wins the suit.

Human Services Student said...

I know this is old but I wanted to correct something. Your assessment that the Bay City State has no limitations on benefits for welfare is in accurate. Per the Welfare Reform law of 1996, ALL states have a maximum of 5 years (some shorter) but can exclude up to 20% of their case load for situations like this person who is on SSI (which limits any and all cash income she would receive).

the UNchecked other said...

@Human Services Student: Thank you for your clarification.

We must never permit the voice of humanity
within us to be silenced. It is Man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him a Man.

--Albert Schweitzer

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.

--Viktor E. Frankl