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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Case of New Jersey woman who lost custody of baby because she refused a cesarean raises many issues

Case of New Jersey woman who lost custody of baby because she refused a cesarean raises many issues

In subsequent hearings, judges ruled against V.M., stating that they did not totally rely on the fact that she refused to have a cesarean section in making their decisions. However, her refusal to have a cesarean section was the initial cause that lead to the State of New Jersey taking custody of her newborn.


  1. Anonymous2:35 PM

    My concern over this is where will we draw the line at being able to make medical decisions for ourselves IF doctors have the power to diagnose us as mentally incompetent to make informed medical decisions regarding our health and for the health of our child.

    This woman was definitely mentally ill. You can tell by her actions that this was not a woman in control of her mental faculties yet the doctors just let her do whatever she wanted without getting her the help that she needed. I strongly feel that the only reason CPS was even called was because ultimately, this woman was right. She didn't need the c-section in order to have a healthy baby and it just pissed them off that she, this mentally ill woman, knew more than they did. They wanted to "get back at her" so they used this corrupt and evil agency to do it for them. Most doctors, just like social workers, have big egos and when they're challenged and defeated, they cannot stand it. So, they caused as much heartbreak and havoc in this woman's life by using CPS in order to make this woman pay dearly for embarrassing them. The thing is, I still think it was an irrational and selfish decision on her part but you can't argue with results.

    My biggest worry regarding this is where will the line be drawn between where we're mentally healthy enough to make an informed medical decision and when we're not. It's a very tentative line as it is and just like ASFA, it's open for abuse and misuse.

    Personally, when the doctors taking care of me during my 1st pregnancy proved that there was no way I was ever gonna safely deliver my son, I had no problem signing the consent form. Hell, I was ready to meet my son (although I thought he was going to be a girl)and I delivered a healthy, beautiful little boy. He had a 1% chance of survival if delivered normally and I had a 25% of surviving a vaginal delivery. They saved 2 lives that day and I received THE best medical care available especially considering I was an indigent patient. I thank God every day in my own way that my doctors took care of me and my son like that. To me, there was no choice. I didn't even have to think about it for a second. My only ? to the doctor after being told a c-section was crucial was how long after I got in the delivery room would I find out if I had a girl or a boy and when would I get to meet him/her. When he said less than 5 minutes, I asked them what the hell were they waiting for and to get this show on the road! I gave birth to a healthy 6 lb 13 1/2 ounce, 21 inch long baby boy. He was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

    I had been up for almost 48 hours, in hard, intense labor for 19 of those hours and I was physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted. I'm quite sure that they could have temporarily diagnosed me as incompetent had I not consented. Again, not consenting wasn't an option for me. I was simply not willing to risk my baby's life over a stupid scar on my stomach. I never once regretted my decision.

    So again my worry is about where they'll draw that line. We cannot give up that right to make our on decisions even if those decisions are not rational to the health care providers. We just cannot give up that right, no matter what.

    This woman was very lucky as it could easily have gone the other way BUT it was her body, her baby and therefore her decision. We don't have to like it but we do have to respect it.

  2. Anonymous4:48 PM

    Perhaps Brenda has read a more in-depth article, but nothing I've seen suggests this mother was mentally unstable or out of control that day.

    They did not approach this mother after hours of difficult labor, with a legitimate medical worry, as Brenda describes in her own story. VM was presented with a consent form during her check-in, when there was no reason to believe she might need a cesarean. She refused.

    That's not proof she was incompetent to make informed medical choices. Maybe she was very informed--perhaps she had educated herself in advance on how hospitals push cesareans because it's more profitable than regular deliveries, despite putting mother and child at higher risk of infections and complications. Maybe she didn't want to agree in advance to give that decision to a hospital that decided 43% of mothers needed a cesarean.

    She didn't refuse to consent to a life-saving operation and put her baby's life at risk--she refused to pre- consent to an unnecessary but profitable operation. She didn't 'prove them wrong', because they had no reason to think she'd need the operation. She refused to give them a fraudulent opening so they could charge her insurance company more money, and they called CPS on her for it.

    And I don't believe that her seeing a psychiatrist or screaming at CPS workers when they took her baby away (who wouldn't?!) somehow proves mental illness.


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