When a pregnant woman moves, can she be penalized for absconding with her fetus?

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One New York judge said yes.  This New York Times article described the predicament of Sara McKenna who became pregnant by Bode Miller, the Olympic skiier.  Their month and a half long relationship ended around the time she got pregnant.  At seven months pregnant, McKenna decided to move from California to New York to attend Columbia University.

Although the baby was born in New York, Miller sued for custody in California and argued that McKenna should not have been able to move to New York.  A New York judge rejected McKenna’s custody action and found that while she had not abducted her child while pregnant, “her appropriation of the child while in utero was irresponsible, reprehensible.”  Jurisdiction therefore was proper in California where the court awarded custody to Miller.  McKenna has seen her son for just 10 days since she had to turn him over to Miller in September.  Meanwhile, the New York appellate courts reversed the trial judge, finding that “Putative fathers have neither the right nor the ability to restrict a pregnant woman from her constitutionally protected liberty.”  Both parties will appear in New York today to litigate the issue of custody.

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