NJ Rules That Mothers Have No Rights in Childbirth

This is too complicated and extensive to reproduce here, but essentially a NJ mother’s refusal of diagnostics and “treatments” in childbirth (practices that aren’t evidence based) as well as her refusal to allow a cesarean resulted in her newborn baby being taken from her.

Interestingly enough, the initial reason for her losing her baby (refusing an unnecessarian – the baby was born vaginally without incident) was thrown out of court.  However, this woman has a history of mental illness, and evidently the court found this history compelling enough to take her baby away for neglect and abuse.  However, she never had a chance to neglect or abuse her newborn since she was taken away immediately following birth.

From what I can tell, she ended up in this horrific situation because:

  1. history of mental illness (this is terrifying; I’m currently medicated for depression and was advised to stay on my meds during pregnancy – do I risk losing my babies at birth if I go AMA?)
  2. refusal of standard procedures in this hospital such as epidural and continuous electronic fetal monitoring
  3. squirming around as hospital personnel tried to MAKE her get an epidural
  4. refusing a cesarean
  5. kicking the OB out of her L&D room

To read more about this case as well as interesting comments from the peanut gallery, see Wise Law Blog’s post and the Volokh Conspiracy’s post.  (Unfortunately the commentary at VC’s site turned into a big abortion and feminism flame war between Dillan, Theo, and later John.)

I will say that this family took their chances going to a hospital (St. Barnabas was featured in Jennifer Block’s Pushed) with a 50% cesarean rate.  Additionally, I’m not sure if they had a clearly outlined birth plan (possible protection in court?) or cesarean “consent” form which would indicate under which, if any, circumstances she would agree to a cesarean.  She also should have had a doula.  This family really did go to McDonalds assuming they could get steak anyway.  Not good.

Tragic.  Terrifying.

6 responses to “NJ Rules That Mothers Have No Rights in Childbirth

  1. I’ve been reading up on that a bit, and it seems the deeper you dig into the report the more tragic and horrifying it becomes. That this family was broken apart, possibly never to be reunited is just awful. I can’t even begin to imagine how they must feel.

  2. Refusal of a “c-section” is not “combative behavior? This country is going down a scary road in the name of the public good or public health. What if she had decided to have the baby at home? Or just didn’t get to the hospital on time? What then? This is terrifying and more people should be alarmed by this. This ties into that new Mothers and Infants Act they are passing which requires psychiatric tests before you can be released and removal of children if parents do not want medication…

  3. But what she really refused to sign was a blanket consent–a form presented to her on admission when everything was going fine, that would give the doctors the ability to decide when the c-surgery was necessary. When she refused consent, there was no indication that she needed a cesarean (unless being in labor is enough of an indication). She was never “combative” until they started trying to coerce her to sign a consent for a procedure that, at the time, everyone agreed she didn’t need. The initial violation of trust seems to have been from the hospital staff/physician side and things went downhill from there.

    Sad, tragic, painful, angering case. And probably all the conflicts were totally unnecessary. The baby loses the most–removed from her parents, placed in foster care. If “Mother” is the name of God on the lips of children, what spiritual healing this baby needs!

  4. My comment should read that refusing a c-section is NOT combative behavior! not a question mark. I would get pretty combative too if they tried to force me to do something I did not want. I was given an epidural and pitocin without my knowledge or consent – had I known there would have been a problem.

  5. I would have to know more about the “history of mental illness” and what the court found so compelling that it removed the child from her. Courts don’t frivolously take children away from their parents. There’s more to this saga.

  6. Courts do take children away from parents all the
    time for flimsey excuses you just don’t hear about it
    because the child protective services(called DYFS in
    NJ) keep the proceedings secret. The parents parental rights are terminated in a snap decision and
    often the reasons given are so retarded and illogical
    that it is unbelieveable. There are thousands of newborns that never go home with parents because
    the hospital is informed that the mother either is on
    psychiatric medication or had a history of psychiatric
    treatment. Anyone who is planning to have children
    or has children in their custody and goes for mental
    health treatment is not being very smart. They can
    have their children taken away at the drop of a hat
    by child protective services. There is even a case of
    a lawyer in Kentucky who won an appeal and got a woman her three children returned from fostercare
    and child protective service retaliated against the
    lawyer and got a court order and took the lawyer’s
    child away and put her in fostercare. No one is safe
    from child protective services and if they haven’t picked on you then you are a lucky person.

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