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Refuse A C-Section… Lose Custody!

By Danielle |

Imagine giving birth to a beautiful baby and then having that child taken away because you refused to pre-authorize a cesarean section while in labor.  Especially when the mother was able to give birth vaginally with no complication, problem, or harm to the baby.

This is a real life saga that has been going on for nearly five years for  V.M. a mother in the state of New Jersey.

Last summer RH Reality Check reported the story. And Change.org also reported around the same time.

V.M. showed up at the hospital planning to give birth vaginally, she was asked to sign a pre-consent form permitting a c-section should it become necessary. She refused. Had there been an unexpected complication with the pregnancy, V.M. could have consented to the procedure at that time, but she didn’t want to sign away her ability to make decisions about whether or not her baby would be sliced out of her belly. That sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

Perfectly reasonable to any woman in the United States, and even as I wrote this up, and read the previously written articles, my husband chimed in with the comment “What gives the courts the right to tell a woman how she should give birth?”   Boy have I trained him well!

While this raises the question of anatomy freedom, and informed consent, it also raises a serious issue about child services, and the court system over stepping their boundaries keeping a child from its mother for a prolonged period of time over something that should have never been an issue from the get go.

As a woman who has labored twice, I would never have signed a pre-authorization for a c-section under any circumstances. Ever.  That does not make me an unfit mother, or someone who is trying to harm my child, it makes me an educated woman that knows the difference between what is medically necessary, and unnecessary.

Worst of all coming out of this story is the c-section rate of the hospital in question where it all took place, which sits at 50% of all births. A whopping 35% higher than what the World Health Organization recommends as a safe c-section rate, for even hospitals with a large population of high risk patients.  Certainly telling of the hospital and the way they do business in my opinion.

National Advocates for Pregnant Women staff attorney Farah Diaz-Tello argued, “Once the door is open you can have field day with every aspect of a woman’s life.” Fortunately, the courts have now agreed that the child abuse/neglect statutes do not apply to fetuses, and in a previous warning, refusing a c-section specifically was found to not constitute endangering a child’s welfare.

Here is to hoping there will be serious changes over the next couple years to help protect the right of informed consent for birthing women all over the country, who are currently becoming statistics like V.M.

photo: flickr.com/a4gpa

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About Danielle

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Danielle

Danielle Elwood is a straight-shooting Florida based mom of three and emerging indie author. Read bio and latest posts → Read Danielle's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Refuse A C-Section… Lose Custody!

  1. Megan says:

    That’s horrifying! Giving birth in a hospital is becoming my worst nightmare! I feel so fortunate to live so close to such a great birthing center, but I am constantly worried about having to transfer due to complications. Why are hospitals so trigger-happy when it comes to calling child services? Having trouble breast-feeding and refuse formula? Child services. Denying a c-section before you even need one? Child services. What the heck!?

  2. Lauren says:

    I was fortunate to give birth in great hospitals where the providers were very open to my requests. I had complications and babies in the NICU, for example, and the staff were supportive when I said, “No formula, breast milk only” and even “No residents doing procedures on me or my babies.”

    We have a right to make decisions about our bodies and children. I hope VM gets justice.

  3. Mallery says:

    That’s ridiculous. I’m speechless.

  4. Jen says:

    Wow, that is really scary! My first was breech so I had a c-section with her, not that’s what I wanted or planned at all. I wanted a water birth, but I tried everything to get her to turn with no luck. She was born the way she was supposed to be and I’m fine with that. But I am due to have my second here in about 5 weeks and I plan to have a VBAC. I am so scared of the hospital pushing me into another c-section if I’m not far enough along for them. But I am hopeful with a good midwife, a doula, and supportive husband that it will work out. If I didn’t live in a rural area, 2.5 hrs from a hospital that does VBACs that I would love to have a homebirth, maybe with my next baby. :)

    But every woman should have a right to choose how they want their birth to go, unless there is an actual medical emergency, a mom should not have to sign anything saying she will have a c-section. I mean, give her a chance to have a normal birth first geesh!

  5. NoAdditives says:

    “Fortunately, the courts have now agreed that the child abuse/neglect statutes do not apply to fetuses.”

    I do not agree with this. Any woman who drinks, smokes, or intentionally does anything that could harm her unborn baby should be considered child abuse. If someone else causes harm or the death of an unborn child they can, in most places, be charged with murder. Why shouldn’t someone be charged with child abuse if they intentionally cause harm to an unborn child?

  6. Jennifer says:

    “Any woman who drinks, smokes, or intentionally does anything that could harm her unborn baby should be considered child abuse. ”

    So, that means that if I choose to have a glass of wine, my baby should be taken away? Seriously? Don’t get me wrong, I do agree that it is not good for the baby to do these things to excess… but it is a vicious downward spiral if we start trying to control every little thing women do with their bodies.

    Also, there needs to be a serious re-evaluation of checks-and-balances in the reporting system. When I had my second cesarean (unplanned), my bp bottomed out as a result of the epidural (same thing happened with my first. As a result they gave me a “boost” of epinephrine. Keep in mind, the time between beginning the epidural and birth of my son was only about 20 minutes. This then showed up in my baby’s tests as “meth”… So then I had to deal with this complete b***h of a DHS lady 8 hours after an unwanted surgical birth hovering over my bedside demanding I tell her about my drug use, and I had no idea what the heck she was talking about. My doctor didn’t even find out about it until the next day and had to spend half the day getting it worked out… And I still had to deal with a home visit 3 days after major abdominal surgery because once you’re in the system, it is “guilty until proven innocent” and they won’t just say “oops sorry”. I later found out from my doctor that this happened to at least 2 other women after me in the same hospital.

    My point is that this is a system that yes, does some good… but is so understaffed as to have WAY too much power without adequate checks and balances.

  7. L says:

    Thank god for my home birth!!! No doctors to fight or waivers to sign!

  8. Brandi says:

    Here is a little more context on the issue: http://www.salon.com/life/broadsheet/feature/2009/07/23/c_section_neglect

    There were more surrounding issues to the parent losing custody than just her denial to sign a pre-consent form for a c-section.

  9. Danielle625 says:

    @Brandi – I have been following this case since it happened as I am involved with people who are in the defense for V.M. but a lot of what has “floated” around the internet including the speculation that they answered the phone and said they weren’t those people is exactly that. Speculation…

  10. MJones says:

    OMG I find this horrifying!! I have MS and made my OBGYN perfectly aware that I wanted a fighting chance not to have a C section, that it was far beyond my wishes… The trauma of major surgery would have certainly thrown my immune system into Attack My Own Body mode faster than a Vaginal birth. He understood my educated reasons, and fought with me to get an epidural (even though this hospital had an issue with my MS and epidurals, leave it to one persons law suit to mess it up for everyone else with MS) I was happy to sign a document that I wouldn’t sue in the evidential MS relapse that happens with any major stress or hormonal surge (like NORMAL child birth)!!

  11. Rosemary says:

    The thought that c-sections would be forced upon a woman is terrifying,but just shows you the extent soon to be mothers are losing their rights.And for those that are raising children once your children are in school full time,the gov’t is always in the shadows waiting for the first misstep to interfere w/your family life.This situation will only get worse under Obama’s universal healthcare when all healthcare will be expected to be standardized,and your choices in healthcare will diminish.Horrifying…

  12. Jeanni says:

    As an OBGYN nurse, I have to say that I am shocked any action was taken against this mom, ESP since baby was delivered safely. However, in defense if consenting to a possible c-sect: we ask our moms to sign a consent before its necessary so that if you have had pain medication, you may legally give permission. The time range differs from state to state but where I practice, a pt may not sign a consent form within 4 hours of receiving pain meds. In an emergency, we would have her husband or other close relative sign consent. However, this could result in legal issues down the road for the hospital if a mom later says she did not want a c/sect. In today’s highly litigeous society, we have to cover ourselves or risk losing our livelihood. Remember, just because you sign a consent form does not mean you cannot refuse that intervention later.

  13. Ashley says:

    The horrifying incident took place at St. Barnabas hospital in Livingston, New Jersey. As one commenter at Change.org suggested, perhaps the women of NJ should help St. Barnabas reduce their 50% cesarean rate to 0% by choosing to birth at another facility. Terrible customer service = no customers.

  14. Minti says:

    Yeah maybe it just going to far taking her baby away but, When I gave birth my top priority was that my son be born healthy. So why would you not sign a consent. Is not having a healthly baby more important than worring about missing out on the experience or having a scar. To me I think you have to have your own selfish reasons not to allow Doctors to do whatever they need to do to get you baby here safe and healthly!! What if, What if this woman wasn’t so lucky and something when wrong and the baby died don’t you think then that something is wrong by denying a c section!!!

  15. Jade Jamison says:

    We are campaining to make sure women who HAVE a c-sec are the ones who have their babies taken away instead !!

    http://themamatao.blogspot.com/2011/03/uk-goes-hard-core-natural.html

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