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.
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.