Slut Shaming Judge Forces Divorcée To Testify About Abortion In Child Custody Case

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This has got to be the worst case of slut-shaming divorce practices that I have ever seen. Not only has Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Lori Sattler allowed personal medical records to be used against an allegedly abused woman, but the opposing lawyer then used those records to paint the woman, a divorcée, as a potential threat to her children and a hypocrite via her abortion.

Last week Judge Sattler allowed bank honcho John Mehos‘ attorney Eleanor Alter to subpoena his former wife, Lisa Mehos‘ medical records. The reasoning behind this isn’t given, but apparently this is allowed in certain custody cases. In these records, Alter discovered that Lisa had undergone an abortion after splitting from her husband. One would think this would be irrelevant. But apparently not in Eleanor Alter’s world.

According to Alter, this discovery not only makes Lisa a hypocrite for asking for her kids for Easter, since her husband is an atheist and does not celebrate (because non-atheists can’t have abortions?) but it also means she must have brought strange men around her children to get pregnant in the first place:

“If this man was coming in the house, if she’s out of the house to see him, if it was date rape, that’s relevant…this is a woman who complains she is under great stress only caused by Mr. Mehos. I would be the first person to acknowledge that having an abortion, especially a two to three month abortion, would be stressful.”

This is where I lose Alter’s argument altogether. Is she trying to claim Lisa had some rando over for a sex fest, or is she saying Lisa “allowed” herself to be raped? Why even bring rape up when Lisa certainly didn’t? If you are confused, then you’re in good company, because I am too.

You would think this would be where the judge draws the line and demands some sanity, right?

NOPE. The judge sided with Alter and said, “I do find it relevant. The children were in her care at the time.”

This makes my head want to explode. Lisa Mehos is a wealthy woman with plenty of access to nannies, babysitters, etc. I’m sure she never has to stress about finding someone to watch her two kids while she runs out to CVS or whatever. The judge would never have allowed evidence of the ex-husband’s affairs to be used against him, because as a society we place the entire onus of childcare on the woman. How dare she have sex, THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!

Understandably shaken at having to discuss such a private event, Lisa testified that her pregnancy was the result of a one time, one night stand with a friend at HIS home while her mother watched her children for the evening. Her mother also watched her children the day she had the abortion.

I don’t know what the court was expecting to hear, that Lisa left her two small children on the side of the road while she banged some dude in an alley? That she left her kids alone at home while she went and had her abortion. Lisa did what every single mom does, she got a damn sitter and got shit done.

After her testimony, Lisa Mehos told the New York Daily News that she felt “violated.” Lisa’s lawyer, Emily Jane Goodman was equally disgusted:

“I think the very idea of the potential of using, against a woman in a custody case, the fact that she may have had an abortion sets women’s rights and the rights of choice back in a way that I can’t imagine this court would want to be associated.”

That pretty much sums up my opinion on the matter. Anyone looking for an example of the war on women, slut shaming or rape culture need only look here. Lisa Mehos was betrayed by the court, disrespected by her ex-husband and his lawyer and violated by the laws meant to protect her.

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    • Koa_Beck

      #RagingHard

    • G.E. Phillips

      I don’t even have words for how disgusting this is. In what world is it ok to use someone’s medical history against them in a child custody suit? Like, I want to know how that even came up.

      • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

        I know we have some lawyer readers. I’m hoping one will come along and let us know what the precedent it. All I could find in my research is that it’s allowed, not why or in what cases.

      • CW

        What if the mom were struggling with mental illness? I know a woman who is raising her stepkids because their bio mom (the husband’s first wife) is mentally ill and abandoned them. If the bio mom suddenly turned up and demanded custody, then her medical history would be VERY relevant to the custody case.

      • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

        See, now that makes sense to me because it’s relevant.

      • G.E. Phillips

        Yes, I agree with that but if they didn’t have any prior history to base this off of, then I don’t understand how they got permission to subpoena the medical records. And WHY they would choose to–my guess is that the ex someone knew about or suspected the abortion and wanted to use it against her. He also got abuse charges against him dropped? Yeah, something is rotten in Denmark.

      • Momma425

        If he was a first time abuser, then he probably made a plea deal. Happens all the time.
        Alternatively, she could have chosen not to press charges, or he might have manipulated her to have the charges dropped. Unfortunately, that happens with a ton of DV cases- the victim recants, refuses to testify, and defends the abuser. :(

      • Blueathena623

        It still makes me nervous. I would hope, in that case, there would still be some medical person who interprets the information and/or the person is allowed to call witnesses for their defense. AND I would hope that the information is not brought up first thing. I know this is totally tangential to your comment, but since women are more likely to seek help for mental issues, it sucks that they could be punished for this too.

      • chickadee

        What’s really creepy abut this is that it appears that the abortion was allowed in as testimony because there is that idea that having an abortion usually results in the woman suffering crippling and devastating emotional guilt, which means this mother was taking care of children while she was CLEARLY INCAPABLE because she had an abortion. Which is a sad generalization.

      • thisshortenough

        I would expect it in cases where there’s a history of drug abuse or mental illness. But I’d argue it would have to be based on very recent claims

      • Momma425

        I used my ex’s medical history against him when I was getting custody of my daughter. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was incredibly out of control and refusing to medicate himself at the time. He also went to the doctor multiple times to seek drugs, one of those times he had a urine drug screen in which he tested positive for heroin. Those things were VERY relevant and appropriate to use in order to get custody of my daughter and keep her far away from him unless he was supervised.
        Using a woman’s abortion in a child custody suit? Bad form.

    • Angela

      This should be illegal. There’s absolutely no reason that abortion should figure into a custody hearing.

    • Amber

      This is so disgusting.

    • CW

      I am anti-abortion but fail to see how this particular abortion is relevant to the custody case. If the pregnancy were the result of an adulterous affair that caused the marriage to collapse in the first place, then MAYBE it might be relevant. But this hookup sounds like it happened after the couple had already split.

      • Angela

        Sorry, but no. An affair might be relevant to a divorce settlement, especially if there’s a prenup but not in a custody hearing.

      • CW

        If the mom’s (or dad’s) adulterous affair was the reason the marriage ended then YES, it is absolutely relevant when deciding who should get custody of the kids. If are so selfish that you put your own lust above your children’s well-being, then that makes you an unfit parent in my book.

      • 7worldtraveler

        Did you know the father in this case was seeking hookers? Do a little research. He also beat her. Yeah. Real stand-up guy, this Manny Mehos.

    • TwentiSomething Mom

      I know divorces can be ugly but this really goes too far. Believe it or not, women don’t spend every waking second with their children, even if they are the primary caretaker. Is Dad willing to testify he hasn’t had sex since he and his wife separated because parents just don’t do things like that? I highly doubt it.

      • Elandri

        If she kept the baby, would they have cared if she slept with someone else after they separated? What about families with more than one kid, obviously they slept together again after they had children to make more children. Guess they should have their kids removed for doing such acts after they were born. I just can’t imagine how this even was allowed. Wishing I could live in a cave right about now.

    • http://anniedeezy.tumblr.com/ Annie

      MEANWHILE, IN THE HALL OF JUSTICE…

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Oh my GOD. So, she had sex with a consenting adult behind closed doors while her children were with Grandma, and she wasn’t prepared to bring another child into her life (Let’s see, she has two existing children who need her, and who might be confused or upset by a new addition to the family during a custody battle, which could get even messier with a pregnancy by another man, and plus finances and time being a single mom, ZMOGdfg!)

      Who the eff even cares? Why should the judge give a damn? It’s her private business, and frankly speaking, I can see the practical reasoning behind it.

      • meteor_echo

        Because the judge is a disgusting puritanic twit (a.k.a. ~thinks of the chiiiiiildren~). God, I hope someone uproots his medical history and shames him for something.

      • 7worldtraveler

        HER medical records! Even MORE shocking. The judge is a BITCH!

    • Emmali Lucia

      This has to be against Roe, I mean this LITERALLY has to be against Roe vs Wade or that one that happened in the 80s-90s that I can’t find right now.

      They went into her MEDICAL RECORDS in a CUSTODY HEARING? And this happened in NEW YORK!? Not some ass-backwards Southern state?

      GUYS! I have been SO GOOD about not drinking for the past couple of days, but now I’m going to the store and getting Bloody Mind-Erasers.

    • J.

      I’m an attorney licensed to practice in NY and NJ. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a newly admitted attorney and thus far my experience has been limited to family law in NJ.

      I will say that this fact pattern is disturbing BUT there is a lot of information missing: admittedly, the basis for the admission of the mother’s health records is not provided. The general standard for custody is the best interest of the child. I would imagine the father’s attorney had the burden of establishing that these medical records were relevant, the attorney was successful in that insofar as it appears he was allowed to subpoena the records. But, ultimately, the “original” basis for admitting the medical records is not revealed: I imagine dad’s attorney had to file a motion and present WHY he believed the medical records were relevant to custody. I WILL say that it is somewhat surprising and disturbing that the mother’s abortion is considered. Generally, when some evidence is admitted, particularly in family matters and if it is something as delicate as medical records, the judge limits the scope. I do not know this judge and do not want to jump to any conclusions because we don’t have here a transcript of the entire proceeding. My guess is that the father wants to use the abortion as evidence of mom sleeping around which in turn makes her behavior affect the best interest of the child. That’s not MY view- it’s just the position his attorney may take. I don’t know if the judge allowed that or if that is what the attorney did AND you never know what objections mom’s attorney will made.

      It still doesn’t sound quite right but there is a lot of information missing. Custody is a delicate matter and it can get quite personal and nasty. Yes, there are rules that aim to protect the litigants and their privacy but there are also loop holes.

      I’m sorry I don’t have a definitive answer. The law, especially when applied to family, is all about the nuanced facts so the best answer, and the typical lawyer answer, to whether the abortion being discussed was improper is: “it depends.” (But it REALLY sounds shady and unfortunate and wrong).

      • J.

        Also I did my best to type this out on my ipad so excuse any typos. This touch screen is not the same as a real keyboard!

      • Jude Johnson

        Her medical records were admitted into evidence to prove spousal abuse. I don’t know if that would throw Hippa out the window in the case of Roe v Wade or not because Roe v Wade guarantee’s the right to privacy. I do know that once she admitted medical records things that would pertain to the abuse is fair game but, I fail to see how the abortion pertains to the abuse. I also do not know if just portions are fair game or if your whole medical history is fair game.
        I hope that made sense.

    • akat

      A Lancaster County, PA judge gave custody of me and my 2 younger brothers to my dysfunctional, alcoholic father, who proceeded to turn us all into co-dependents, with a miserable adolescence and not-quite-right adulthood for me, and a now alcoholic, dysfunctional future for my brothers, one of which has schizophrenia. All because my mom decided not to be a co-dependent anymore and dared leave his alcoholic-ass with the help of my step-father. My mom, accused of having a “paramour” in the papers and by my father to his children throughout their 7-years long divorce process, who did not use her children against her ex or refuse to care for them in every way possible despite putting them through hell seeking (and getting) full custody, is the only person who ever substantially helped my ill brother. She wouldn’t have even been able to do half of what she did for us without my step-father, but she would have been able to do worlds more without my father and his gaining custody. As person with a working logic process, I’m proud that she left my father for him. I don’t believe in Hell, but I wish I did, so I could imagine that judge rotting in it. My mom was the better choice, all slut-shaming aside, and I’ll never understand why that wasn’t the key issue.

    • SteatopygiaLover

      I’m assuming the guy she slept with was some ghetto guy they sells drugs. I know where this is going.

    • Dan Meyers

      Lisa killed her youngest child because it was inconvenient. What if her two older children become “inconvenient” to her? She has proven she can and will kill and despose of her own flesh and blood. What’s to say she won’t take the same action against her older children? This is a very smart and insightful judge.

      • Pamela

        By the age of 45, about one in three women have had an abortion. Over 60% of them have kids already, and more than 80% of all women end up having a child, meaning that a good portion of those women are or will end up being mothers. So, if what you said was true, we’d be seeing A LOT more cases of filicide than there actually are, and one in three women are dangerous to kids.

        In other words, you’re wrong and you sound ridiculous.

    • idahoguy101

      The mother’s medical history is relevant to child custody. She lied to the Judge. She’s gone to 28 different doctors. She may be abusing prescriptions. She has shown the Judge that she lack the competence to be the primary care giving parent of her children.

    • Steve

      It was bad form but not relevant, look up the case, she was abusing perscription drugs. New York Daily News headline says abortion was used against her but “loses kids over pill popping”. http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/mom-targeted-abortion-loses-custody-article-1.1728932
      The judge will reconsider if she can pass a drug test in a year.