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Woman Who Was Sterilized For Lighter Sentence Says She’s Angry

November 15, 1988

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ An unwed mother who agreed to be sterilized in return for a more lenient sentence in the death of her son said that she was under duress when she agreed to the procedure.

″I’m sterile. I’m angry about it. I wish I hadn’t done it sometimes, and then I realize that it was the only way,″ said Melody S. Baldwin, 30, of Indianapolis.

Ms. Baldwin appeared on the ″Donahue″ show with Marion Superior Court Judge Roy F. Jones, who earlier this month sentenced her to 10 years in prison.

″If I had it to do over, I’m not sure what I would have done because the truth is, I wish someday maybe I could have had more children,″ she said. ″But I could never give up another child and I could never have anything like this happen again.″

Ms. Baldwin was interviewed from Indianapolis by talk show host Phil Donahue on Monday for broadcast Tuesday.

Jones and Ms. Baldwin’s attorney, Michael Donahoe of Indianapolis, were panelists in a discussion on offender sterilization.

Ms. Baldwin, who has a history of personality disorders, was charged last year with murder and child neglect after her 4-year-old son, Joshua, died of an overdose of a drug used to treat mental illness.

The murder charge was dropped after Ms. Baldwin agreed to plead guilty to the felony neglect charge, which carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

While awaiting sentencing, Ms. Baldwin conceived another child.

At a hearing in July, Jones suggested he would give Ms. Baldwin a more lenient sentence if she agreed to give the child up for adoption and be sterilized. She under went a tubal ligation late last month, the day after her son was born. The son was placed for adoption.

Jones said the adoption idea was Ms. Baldwin’s.

″After I heard that, I suggested to her since she recognized that she need not have this child, perhaps she need not have any children and that she would want to submit to sterilization,″ Jones said.

″It was a suggestion. What I did was legally correct. I had a good, legal, sound basis for making my recommendation,″ Jones said.

Ms. Baldwin said she was at first shocked by the judge’s suggestion, which has been criticized by the National Organization for Women and others, but later agreed to it.

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