January 20, 2005: Headlines: COS - Brazil: Jurisprudence: Law: Divorce: Spousal Abuse: Oregon Live: Spokane County Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine's decision in Spokane denying a divorce during pregnancy angers women's advocates and spurs a new bill

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Brazil: Peace Corps Brazil: The Peace Corps in Brazil: January 20, 2005: Headlines: COS - Brazil: Jurisprudence: Law: Divorce: Spousal Abuse: Oregon Live: Spokane County Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine's decision in Spokane denying a divorce during pregnancy angers women's advocates and spurs a new bill

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-13-244.balt.east.verizon.net - on Friday, January 21, 2005 - 10:54 pm: Edit Post

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine's decision in Spokane denying a divorce during pregnancy angers women's advocates and spurs a new bill

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine's decision in Spokane denying a divorce during pregnancy angers women's advocates and spurs a new bill

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine's decision in Spokane denying a divorce during pregnancy angers women's advocates and spurs a new bill

Divorce ruling provokes outrage
A judge's decision in Spokane denying a divorce during pregnancy angers women's advocates and spurs a new bill
Thursday, January 20, 2005

Ending an unhappy marriage can be as easy as spelling "D-I-V-O-R-C-E."

But not in Spokane.

Not if the wife is "P-R-E-G-N-A-N-T."

Shawnna J. Hughes, 27, was headed for a routine divorce late last year from her husband, Carlos, who had spent time in jail for beating her.

The fact that she got pregnant during the divorce proceedings seemed inconsequential -- her husband wasn't the father.

But Spokane County Superior Court Judge Paul A. Bastine disagreed, saying Shawnna Hughes was ignoring the right of her child not to be born out of wedlock.

"The paramount right of the state and the obligation of the court, and in fact, probably the obligation of the parent as well, is to protect the legitimacy, the appropriateness of the child's relationship to his or her parents," Bastine said during a hearing in November.

He concluded that "not only is it the policy of this court, it is the policy of the state that you cannot dissolve a marriage when one of the parties is pregnant. Now, you won't find a statute with regard to that. But it is implicit in everything we have in the case law and the statutory law."

Shawnna Hughes appealed the ruling, but the state Court of Appeals has not indicated whether it will resolve the dispute before her March due date.

Bastine's decision outraged women's advocates, who said it smacked of sexism. In response, Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle, introduced a bill Tuesday in the Washington Legislature that would prohibit judges from denying or delaying a divorce because the wife is pregnant.

Hughes' lawyers say they will fight on. They say Bastine's refusal to grant her divorce violates her rights under the state equal rights amendment as well as her federal constitutional rights to marriage and privacy.

And although Carlos Hughes is in jail in Montana on other charges, Shawnna Hughes's attorneys argue that the state's determination to put the rights of the unborn child first makes no sense.

"She's historically had difficult pregnancies, and she's having another difficult pregnancy," said Terri D. Sloyer, one of her attorneys, adding that the stress of having to remain married to her abuser is not helping.

And besides, Sloyer said, "what if my client wants to marry the father of her baby?"

Shawnna and Carlos Hughes married in 1998. They had two children together. During her first pregnancy, Carlos started physically abusing her, Sloyer said.

A December Washington Post series cited experts who said 4 percent to 8 percent of pregnant women --160,000 to 320,000 a year -- are physically abused by husbands, boyfriends or partners.

The series also determined that pregnant women and new mothers are more probable to be victims of homicide than to die of any single natural cause.

Because of the abuse, Shawnna Hughes separated from her husband in 2002, Sloyer said. He went to jail in 2003, in part for abusing her. Before his jail term ended last Spring, Shawnna Hughes filed for divorce and sought a restraining order. Carlos Hughes did not object. And on Oct. 26, Court Commissioner Pro Tem Julia Pelc approved the divorce.

Then it got complicated.

Shawnna Hughes is on public assistance. As a result, the state can collect child support from the divorced father of her children. In addition, state law presumes that the husband is the father of any child born up to 300 days after a divorce.

But in court papers, Shawnna Hughes named someone else as the father.

When deputy Spokane County prosecutor Mary Valentine learned about this, she asked Bastine to revoke the divorce.

Valentine did not return telephone calls seeking comment, but in a transcript of a Nov. 4 hearing, she said Bastine should undo the divorce because of "irregularities," including the failure to properly notify the state about the pregnancy.

Valentine also said that naming another father threatened the state's ability to collect child support.

But Valentine went further.

"This child has the right to know who his or her father is as well as who her father is or is not," she said.

And that trumps Hughes' right to divorce an abusive spouse.

"I think it was very clear, yes, that Ms. Hughes wanted to get her divorce. And it's unfortunate that there's been domestic violence involved in all that. But we still, as the court has said, we have to look at the best interest of the child, make sure that the paternity -- that the child is protected here regarding parentage."

Sloyer disagrees with Valentine's interpretation of the law. She also said the ruling violates Hughes' state and constitutional rights.

First, blocking a divorce because of a pregnancy violates Washington's equal rights amendment, Sloyer said.

The decision also violates Hughes' federal constitutional right to marry, first established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 when it struck down a Virginia law banning interracial marriage, Sloyer said.

In addition, Sloyer said the decision violated Hughes' privacy under Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing a woman's right to an abortion.

Sloyer says Bastine conceded in the hearing that his ruling might not pass constitutional muster. But he avoided the issue by revoking the divorce on the grounds that Hughes' attorneys failed to follow proper legal procedures.

Bastine also said Hughes' lawyers should have notified Carlos Hughes that she became pregnant. And he concluded by saying that Hughes caused her own problems by getting pregnant in the middle of a divorce proceeding.

"If you are going to go out and commit an intentional act, that changes the circumstances, which is what occurred here, then you have created the situation by your own actions that delay your opportunity to dissolve your marriage," he said.

One women's advocate said reading the transcript convinced her that the procedural justification for revoking the divorce was a smoke screen.

"I think that the prosecutor and perhaps that judge are standing in judgment of her because she -- God forbid -- had sex with someone other than her husband," said Lisa Stone, executive director the Northwest Women's Law Center in Seattle. "And it doesn't help that she is on public assistance, that her current husband is in jail and that the father of her child is in jail."

Ashbel "Tony" Green: 503-221-8202; tonygreen@news.oregonian.com

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

January 15, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: January 15 2005 No: 375 January 15, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Bellamy finishing term - Veneman to head Unicef 15 Jan
230 RPCVs volunteer for Crisis Corps 14 Jan
Peace Corps Fund needs silent auction items 12 Jan
Matt Gould in one-man Peace Corps show in Hollywood 12 Jan
Taylor Hackford's "Ray" Nominated for Golden Globe 12 Jan
Ambassador Johnson shares memories of Thailand 11 Jan
Senator Dodd suggests PC return to Venezuela 11 Jan
Ambassador Hull wants PC to return to Sierra Leone 11 Jan
Poiriers unhappy with PC investigation of missing son 10 Jan
Emile Hons reflects on the Deborah Gardner murder case 10 Jan
Judge Paul A. Bastine criticized for stalling Divorce 6 Jan
Volunteer Patricia D. Scatoloni dies in Macedonia 4 Jan
more top stories...

Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.
RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?
The World's Broken Promise to our Children Date: December 24 2004 No: 345 The World's Broken Promise to our Children
Former Director Carol Bellamy, now head of Unicef, says that the appalling conditions endured today by half the world's children speak to a broken promise. Too many governments are doing worse than neglecting children -- they are making deliberate, informed choices that hurt children. Read her op-ed and Unicef's report on the State of the World's Children 2005.
Changing of the Guard Date: December 15 2004 No: 330 Changing of the Guard
With Lloyd Pierson's departure, Marie Wheat has been named acting Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations responsible for the day-to-day management of the Peace Corps. Although Wheat is not an RPCV and has limited overseas experience, in her two years at the agency she has come to be respected as someone with good political skills who listens and delegates authority and we wish her the best in her new position.
Our debt to Bill Moyers Our debt to Bill Moyers
Former Peace Corps Deputy Director Bill Moyers leaves PBS next week to begin writing his memoir of Lyndon Baines Johnson. Read what Moyers says about journalism under fire, the value of a free press, and the yearning for democracy. "We have got to nurture the spirit of independent journalism in this country," he warns, "or we'll not save capitalism from its own excesses, and we'll not save democracy from its own inertia."
RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack RPCV safe after Terrorist Attack
RPCV Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, the U.S. consul general in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia survived Monday's attack on the consulate without injury. Five consular employees and four others were killed. Abercrombie-Winstanley, the first woman to hold the position, has been an outspoken advocate of rights for Arab women and has met with Saudi reformers despite efforts by Saudi leaders to block the discussions.
Is Gaddi Leaving? Is Gaddi Leaving?
Rumors are swirling that Peace Corps Director Vasquez may be leaving the administration. We think Director Vasquez has been doing a good job and if he decides to stay to the end of the administration, he could possibly have the same sort of impact as a Loret Ruppe Miller. If Vasquez has decided to leave, then Bob Taft, Peter McPherson, Chris Shays, or Jody Olsen would be good candidates to run the agency. Latest: For the record, Peace Corps has no comment on the rumors.
The Birth of the Peace Corps The Birth of the Peace Corps
UMBC's Shriver Center and the Maryland Returned Volunteers hosted Scott Stossel, biographer of Sargent Shriver, who spoke on the Birth of the Peace Corps. This is the second annual Peace Corps History series - last year's speaker was Peace Corps Director Jack Vaughn.

Read the stories and leave your comments.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Oregon Live

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Brazil; Jurisprudence; Law; Divorce; Spousal Abuse



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.