The Political Interest Who Owes What to Whom?

Having babies is not Darlene Johnson's problem. Raising them is. Until recently, Johnson, 28, was in a California prison for having beaten two of her four children with a belt and an electric cord. What makes the Johnson case unusual is not the nature of her crime, which is all too common, but the choice offered her by the sentencing judge in Tulare County: the chance to cut her jail time if she agreed to the surgical implantation of Norplant, the new birth-control device that prevents conception for up to five years. That choice, which Johnson accepted and which many perceive...

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