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Newborn Taken from Mom For Refusal of C-Section

By jeannesager |

pregnantbelly2A woman who told doctors she wasn’t going for a C-section – even though her baby was showing signs of fetal distress – went on to deliver a healthy baby vaginally. So what’s the problem? New Jersey social workers have taken the newborn from her parents because Mom refused the surgery.

They say the refusal constitutes “abuse and neglect” of the baby.

Yes, even though she was born healthy.

Identities have been limited to initials in court documents, but a New Jersey Court of Appeals just upheld the decision that will keep baby J.M.G. from mom V.M. and dad B.G.

A trial judge had already found the parents abusive and neglectful for their decision not to abide by doctor’s orders – even though court documents also showed the baby was “in good medical condition upon her vaginal delivery.”

The second court says the surgery refusal (the basis for the whole case) doesn’t even matter. When the Division of Youth and Family Services showed up after the call from the hospital (over the C-section refusal), they say they found out V.M. had undergone twelve years of psychiatric treatment before the baby was born. The mom won’t reveal what kind of treatment, so they say that’s enough to go on – she’s got the potential to abuse and neglect her child.

So with no allegations of actual abuse to the baby, based on a woman’s refusal to have a perfectly healthy child cut out of her womb, the courts are pawing through her medical history for anything they can use to back up a decision they made .  . . wrongly.

Anyone else smelling a conspiracy here? The exact details of this woman’s mental issues aren’t out, and I’m willing to grant that there might be something there. But unless there’s evidence of some actual harm to another person wrapped up with them, is a history of mental health issues really enough to warrant taking a woman’s child, absent of any actual abuse to her child?

And how does saying no to major surgery a punishable offense? I was lucky enough never to have C-section come up during my labor, but if the words had been bandied about, I wonder if  I would have been “combative,” “uncooperative,” “erratic,” “noncompliant,” “irrational” and
“inappropriate.” Those were all the words used to describe V.M. during her labor.

Sound like anyone else you know?

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About jeannesager

jeannesager

jeannesager

Jeanne Sager is a freelance writer and photographer living in upstate New York with her husband and daughter, Jillian. She maintains a blog of her award-winning columns at jeannesager.blogspot.com.

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0 thoughts on “Newborn Taken from Mom For Refusal of C-Section

  1. diera says:

    This is one of those things that seems *so* absurd that I can’t help but wonder what the other side of the story is. For instance, did she refuse the C-section by saying something like, “I don’t believe that I require a C-section, I want to allow the baby to be born naturally,” or did she say, “I think you’re all out to get me! I don’t care if the baby dies, you’re not cutting me!” I could see how if she said something like the second statement (and I don’t know a thing about this, this is all what-if) it might make them concerned that she wasn’t taking the baby’s well-being into account.

  2. e says:

    Hmmm… the details are all a little sketchy, so it’s hard to judge, isn’t it? One thing I know for sure, though, after a VERY long unmedicated labor and three hours of pushing, when I was told I would have to go for a C-section I was definitely “erratic,” “irrational,” and maybe even “inappropriate.” (Does crying and cursing count as “inappropriate”??)

  3. Kiara Slade says:

    This is absolutely the most ridiculous and absurd thing I’ve ever herad in my entire life. What right does anyone have to take away a baby based on past psychiatric treatment? Where, what and why she was being treated for any kind of condition does not constitute a reason to believe she is incapable of caring for her own child. Her refusal to have surgery is not illegal. It is optional and she has the right to refuse any help at all. If she chose to have her baby at home without a doctor present, that would be her choice! The judge should have no say so over the matter and neither should the the Department of Family services. If a woman can refuse a blood transfusion to her child on basis of religion, then why can’t a mother refuse to be cut from one side to another to have a baby? She had a baby vaginally that was born into this world healthy and without complications. Give the lady back her child!

  4. gwendolyn says:

    Great. So this women went through treatment for help and now its being used against her.

  5. Sarah says:

    If you actually read the case: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a4627-06.pdf you will find that the mother was found to be a paranoid schizophrenic and the father to also be suffering from a psychotic disorder, for which they both were refusing treatment. Although I disagree strongly with several aspects of how this case was handled, (I don’t believe that the refusal to allow a c-section should have been considered here at all, nor the fact that she had a psychiatric history and had a showed “inappropriate affect” during pregnancy), it appears that the parents in this case are not in a fit state to care for their daughter at the moment.

  6. zaksmom says:

    I wonder if healthy newborns are in demand for adoption in NJ by wealthy couples. There have been too many cases of social service agencies taking healthy, usually light-skinned newborns on rather flimsy pretexts.

  7. Annoyed says:

    Sigh, if you read the judgement – and in particular the excellent concurring opinion – these issues are addressed. The judge rejects the use of the behaviour of a woman before birth as a reason to remove the child, but upholds the removal due to the behaviour of the parents after the birth. This is not a new issue – similar arguments have been heard vis a vis women who use drugs during pregnancy etc. Although the c-section issue should never have been considered (and from what I read, it was basically withdrawn as an argument by DYFS during the appeal, although they wanted the judges to be able to consider the fact that the mother later lied and said that she had approved a c-section) and the decision affirms this.

  8. Irritated says:

    I think you are being a bit judgmental, there could be a whole lot of information about this woman and her baby that is not released to the public. The DYFS is VERY competent at making decisions regarding the health of the children, and while I do think that children should be kept with their parents we do not know how much distress the baby was in. It could have been a miracle that the baby survived. We are making judgement on a situation that we do not fully understand.

  9. zaksmom says:

    Fetal distress is often over-diagnosed, as there are many things that can give “nonreassuring” patterns- like the equipment slipping out of place or the baby falling asleep. Both of those things happened frequently during my 35 hour labor- and Zak was fine the whole time. And social service agencies can and do make bad calls.

  10. Is this journalism says:

    I’m confused. The writer either didn’t do the most basic research and read the court documents, or she read them and purposely wrote this in a misleading fashion. Anyone who reads the court documents will see that the whole c-section issue is a moot point. But, even though it’s obvious that the comments that the title and content of this blog are inflammatory and misleading, it’s still up on Babble. Shouldn’t it be taken down? What possible purpose is it serving to leave it up?

  11. Heather says:

    Seriously, everyone needs to read the 47-page decision regarding all of this, and I’d be willing to bet that all of your questions and criticisms would be resolved. Yes the baby was initially removed for a refusal of a c-section AMONG other erratic behaviors exhibited by the mother, but that was only for a few days. The fact that the child was ultimately not given back has absolutely nothing to do with the refusal of the c-section. Considering that this took place in 2006 and 2007, and considering the facts surrounding the court’s decision, I’m extremely disappointed in the lax journalistic standards exhibited by Ms. Sager, who seems only interested in inflammatory headlines and articles severely lacking in details.

  12. jeannesager says:

    To all the question as to my journalistic standards – I DID read the 47-page document – and if you’ll note, I did say that the second court made the first issue moot.
    HOWEVER, there are conflicting statements in the court documents regarding the mother’s mental health issues – some say she’s schizophrenic, some say she’s not – and a reading of the documents draw serious questions about the viability of the means with which information was obtained that the second court used to justify the removal of the baby.
    My reading of the documents? The DYFS screwed up, and they’re covering their asses.

  13. Is this journalism says:

    Although it’s title is similarly inflammatory, this article on Salon is a much more nuanced and complete portrait of the case: http://www.salon.com/mwt/broadsheet/?last_story=/mwt/broadsheet/feature/2009/07/23/c_section_neglect/

  14. Cali Mom says:

    I think people need to remember that blogs are opinion pieces. You can’t expect a blog to live up to any type of journalistic standard.

    Jeanne was basically stating her opinion that the courts were “pawing through her medical history for anything they can use to back up a decision they made . . . wrongly.” I don’t agree with this statement, but it is Jeanne’s opinion.

    Seriously, if you start looking at blogs as if they were real journalism, your head will hurt. At least on Strollerderby, it is clear this is a blog. On many online sites the line is less clear, and this is where the danger is.

  15. jeannesager says:

    Thanks CaliMom – it is very much my opinion and naturally not one you have to share! The blog is to open discourse on any particular topic.

  16. shannon says:

    CommentsI think the sad fact of the matter is that, no matter what we do, women will always be judged. Harshly. In ways that men aren’t. And often by each other. And I think every decision we make is made just a little bit harder, because, on some level, we’re aware that we’re putting ourselves up for judgment, no matter what we do. I wrote about this subject today on my blog (http://undecidedthebook.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-dont/), which is about analysis paralysis, grass is greener syndrome, longing for the road not traveled, and how the success of the women’s movement has left women stumped in the face of limitless options.

  17. [...] judge agreed with this, in fact – stating that the Cesarean was, contrary to what internet outrage implies, the ultimate issue. A baby was not “taken from mom because she refused a [...]

  18. FireMom says:

    DYFS is very competent at making their decisions? Then why does my neighbor have her children back after using them as a shield against the cops who had a taser? DYFS is overloaded and makes poor decisions every single day. This is a fine example.

  19. [...] to Strollerderby: “A trial judge had already found the parents abusive and neglectful for their decision not [...]

  20. La'El says:

    So, a baby only has rights while in the womb if it benefits some one other than the baby’s mother?

    What about the women out there who need to be treated for post partum depression? Are they going to have to fear having their children taken if they get help?

  21. Jennifer says:

    CommentsDon’t go to St. Barnabas Hospital for anything. The doctors and nurses are violent and negligent and place the patient in Danger.
    St. Barnabas Hospital is located in Livingston NJ. Ronald Del Mauro
    owns St. Barnabas Hospital and also Beth Israel Hospital in Newark NJ

    I wouldn’t advise going there either. The maternity care at St. Barnabas and Beth Israel is horrible. St. Barnabas Hospital caused a baby brain damage and the infant’s name is Casey Pellicer. St. Barnanas Hospital murdered infant Rebecca Rabinowitz. People of NJ:
    Don’t go to St. Barnabas Hospital or Beth Israel Hospital the people
    that work there are incompetant and crazy.

  22. John says:

    CommentsON Aug. 6, 2010 the NJ Apellate Division reversed the termination of parental rights of VM & BG. Google NJ Apellate Division

  23. Jenny Bea says:

    @Jennifer- I wanted to write you off as someone who was bitter, until I read this article that backed up exactly as you’re saying. This hospital is being sued on the two occassions of these children you mentioned. http://www.examiner.com/cps-and-family-court-in-albany/nj-hospital-that-called-cps-when-woman-refused-cesarean-being-sued-for-death-of-another-baby Keeping in mind this article is older than the time I am posting this, I learned of this issue by reading today’s article in a British paper: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1366791/Baby-girl-kept-away-mother-5-years-refusing-sign-C-section-form.html Given the date of this article, the judgement against her doesn’t necessarily mean anything, as this is awaiting a new decision, after a judge upon appeal agreed with VM. So the issue isn’t over or out of court, yet. Regarding the psychiactric opinions, it would be interesting to see what one would say who was not hired by either VM or by the state. I mean, the state says she’s crazy- her doctors say she isn’t. Someone’s not telling the truth. And I would side with her first, and the reason why is if this happened to me, I’d be freaking out. BIG time.

  24. Heena says:

    This was a very sad case. Every parent just wants to do the very best for their child, but we do not let ainlams suffer as we do humans and there must be a proper balance between pouring huge resources into children who have a limited future.It reminds me of a previous case where the parents fought tooth and nail to keep baby Charlotte alive at huge public expense. The little girl who is profoundly disabled is now being brought up in foster care because the parents cannot cope with her. So what was all that about

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