Babies Held Hostage By Unpaid Midwives

I cannot fathom the concept of selling someone's baby because they didn't pay a bill.

My husband and I have this running joke about the hospital bills for the births of our children. When we paid off Violet’s bill we joked that now they couldn’t repossess her as we’d paid in full.

We’re still working on Henry’s bill and never miss a payment because we wouldn’t want them to take back the little guy. We kind of like him, you know?

All joking aside, they’re pretty much doing that very thing in one country.

Rebecca Henschke reports for the BBC that when a woman who has just given birth cannot afford to pay medical fees, there is a risk in Indonesia that her baby will be taken hostage.

Yetriana Lopez was pregnant with twins but didn’t know it until she gave birth. The fee for twins is double that of a single child but Yetriana and her husband had only saved enough money to pay for one baby. The clinic refused to hand over the second baby until a bill for $500 was paid.

Isn’t that some craziness? Henschke interviewed the secretary general for the national commission for child protection who says it happens all the time. “In 2010, our commission received 36 reports of baby hostage-taking by hospitals, clinics and private midwives,” he tells the BBC. “Those were just the cases that were reported to our commission so it’s not accurate national data. The real figure is likely to be much more than that.”

It took Yetriana Lopez 4 months to come up with the money to pay for her baby. She was separated from her newborn son for FOUR MONTHS. Not only that, but the clinic charged the Lopez’ a fee every single day for taking care of the child. Finally, American mid-wife and superhero, 54-year-old Robin Lim, heard the story and tells the BBC she said, “Let’s go and find out what the midwife wants. Let’s not ask questions, let’s just get this baby home”.

The BBC reports on the utter nonsense that ensued:

But when she (Robin) accompanied Mulyono Lopez to the clinic to offer to pay the balance of his debt, they were told the baby had been sold to someone who could take care of him.

Just a few days earlier Mulyono had visited the clinic to pay an instalment of the debt, and the sum had been accepted gladly.

“There are lots of cases where, if the mother can’t pay, the baby becomes the property of the hospital,” says Mr Sirait. “They then believe they have the right to sell the baby to someone else.”

Ms Lim contacted the police and local journalists, to launch a search for the child.

They found him three weeks later. He was easier than most to trace because he has an identical twin brother.

Healthcare is being launched in Indonesia this year but is troubled by funding problems. And we all know how easy healthcare is to navigate. Even in “progressive” countries like America. Until then mothers only qualify for healthcare if they’re considered poor, which isn’t as easy to do as it sounds.

Robin Lim has set up a team of nine midwives who offer free pre-natal care, delivery services and medical aid to anyone who needs it. “I felt like as a midwife I could look at these really important issues,” she tells BBC. “These are things that I do every day.”

Simply astounding. If you are pregnant, take time out to thank your lucky stars that you live in a place where, even though our healthcare system sucks, won’t steal your baby from you and sell it to someone else. It may be easy to blow it off because it’s happening a world away but these women love their babies just like you. This is happening. Not only that, but all over the world women are dying because they don’t have access to prenatal care. Sure morning sickness and weight gain suck, but put it into a worldwide context and your pregnancy is a breeze.

Image: flickr.com/budibudz

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