Refused a c-section? NJ Division of Youth and Family Services thinks you’re guilty of child neglect

Published On August 19, 2010 | By Georgia Sand | Articles

Ah, land of the free, home of the brave.

The land where you can’t do drugs, can’t drink on the beach, can’t jaywalk, can’t smoke in certain areas, can’t post signs critical of government on your own yard, could face up to life in prison for dealing marijuana, where more people are incarcerated (proportionally) than anywhere else in the world, where you can’t sell ziplock bags of a particular size (lest the police raid your store, destroy your merchandise and loot your cash register), where miscarriage can be a crime, where you can be tasered for refusing to take a bath, where you can be arrested for doing absolutely nothing, and now – where refusing to consent to a c-section before giving birth can raise suspicions of child neglect.

The land of the “free” is eerily starting to sound more like a bizarre police state, 1984-style.

The issue of whether refusal of a C-section can be considered medical neglect of a child recently was entertained by courts in New Jersey. Upon going into labor and being admitted to the hospital, “Ms. M” signed various consents for treatment at the hospital, but did not consent preemptively to a C-section.  She was told of the full risks and benefits of a c-section, and refused the procedure.  She was even evaluated by a psychiatrist regarding her ability to give informed consent, due to her past history of anxiety, depression and other issues, and was found to have the capacity to give informed consent. She delivered her child vaginally and safely. However, the hospital staff for various reasons referred her to family services.  One of these reasons was because of her decision not to preauthorize consent to c-section during labor.  Her child was taken away from her shortly after birth.

The child was taken away for a variety of reasons aside from the c-section issue. Fortunately, the courts decided medical neglect of a child was a concept that did not apply to a woman and her fetus, and that refusal of a c-section could not be considered child neglect (full story here).

The National Association for Pregnant Women (NAPW) apparently acknowledged this as a “victory.” Presumably, feminists everywhere are considering this a win.  However, the fact that this even was an issue for the courts is preposterous and deeply offensive to liberty, privacy and human dignity. Child birth is a medical and private matter. That a judge is the final say on whether a woman’s consent (or lack thereof) to a serious surgical procedure can be used against her as evidence of child neglect is disgusting and embarrassing in a purported “free” society.

That in a “free” society, some bureaucrat with no medical training, no surgical background, and an insufficient knowledge of obstetrics, can decide whether a woman must consent to a surgical procedure under the threat her child could be taken away is utterly insane.  Feminists everywhere should not be celebrating a victory; we should be infuriated that such issues are even in the realm of government at all.

Over the protests of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services, which argued that not consenting to a c-section is a factor which should be considered in assessing child neglect, the court reaffirmed that women have full discretion and control over their bodies during pregnancy and reiterated the right of privacy and the right to make medical decisions.  The court further stated the term “child” or “children” does not extend to fetuses and the child neglect law cannot be applied in cases such as Ms. M’s.

Even so, it is incredibly disturbing to know that government entities are out there arguing  medical decisions made during pregnancy should be scrutinized for child neglect. The court may have ruled this time that the law does not apply to fetuses, but what about other medical decisions made after birth of a child?

If New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services could have its way, children could be taken away because their mother made various surgical or medical decisions that caused her to be unable to breast feed, or required prolonged hospital stays or medical treatments which deprived her children of attention.

The necessary logical conclusion would be that cancer patients, others with substantial medical problems, or anyone else who, as a result of receiving certain medical treatment or hospitalizations, has afforded less than optimal attention or care to their children can be suspected of “neglect” or “endangerment.”

How did we come to a point where the state, through courts, law, politics, and with the help of law enforcement, has to have its overreaching, filthy, meddling hands even in medicine?

It is a twisted world indeed when the government has a virtual blank check to enact all kinds of oppressive laws and regulations with relatively little accountability, all on the taxpayer’s bill, while the citizen is scrutinized to death for making basic and private medical decisions.

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About The Author

Georgia (George) Sand received her B.A. from UCLA and her J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law. She enjoys beer, jogging, the beach and music in her spare time.
  • http://downdurnst.posterous.com/ downdurnst

    This is irritating as hell. My wife, for example, is on several drugs that are vital to her mental health; on them, she’s as stable and healthy as anyone but off them she has severe problems with depression and anxiety that are incapacitating. When our last child was born, we talked to our doctor about their effect – we worked out a plan where she could temporarily switch to another drug during the most crucial part of the pregnancy, and then switch back after a certain stage had been passed.

    The thing is, even the ‘less risky’ drug carried a certain amount of risk to the baby during certain stages of growth – but our doctor (who is phenomenal) and my wife’s mental health practitioner both agreed that there was an equal risk if my wife started suffering severe depression and anxiety while at the same time having all of the hormones of pregnancy coursing through her.

    Imagine if Child Protective had gotten involved here? They are _not_doctors_ – would they have argued that we didn’t have a right to risk the well-being of the baby? Would they argue that we are bad parents by choosing my wife’s mental health and risking complications to the fetus?

    It’s none. of. their. fucking. business. The choices were made by us, and in consultation with our doctors, and it shouldn’t ever go beyond that.

  • Jenn

    Downdurnst – agree with you 100%. Thank you for reading. It boggles my mind that random people who do legal or social work somehow think they are in the position to make medical decisions for other people. It’s fucking nuts.

  • The Kat

    I hate feminists. They are just another tool of the NWO police state. Someone EVER came after me and and mine would get the bullets first.

  • Jenn

    What does “NWO” stand for?

    Anyway, saying you hate feminists is kind of like saying you hate Muslims, Christians, vegetarians or humanists. There are different types who have a wide spectrum of beliefs and practices.

  • Mari

    excellent piece. thanks.

  • JL Turner

    1789 was a good year in France.

  • http://www.copblock.org Rob

    Jenn
    NWO = New world order, There are a million conspiracy theory website’s about NWO http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_World_Order_(conspiracy_theory) Hope that helps..

  • Dylboz

    Once again, the regime reveals its basis in the sinister assumption that people are their property. The statists believe that, through their position in the organization and via whatever title has been bestowed upon them, whatever uniform or badge they wear, or whatever fancy embossed business card from an alphabet soup agency they carry, THEY OWN YOU. They actually believe they own us like a farmer owns his cattle, a resource to be either milked or slaughtered, whichever promises greater profit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/jeagnome? Jean D.

    This just a taste of what government run healthcare will be like. They, not you, will own your body, and the body of your child, whether born or unborn.

  • Kirsten

    The Kat: I hate feminists.

    Why do you hate me when you’ve never even met me?

  • Jenn

    Agree with Kirsten. :D

  • http://specialbrands.net/ Daniël W. Crompton

    Sometimes I think the US is a lost cause, too me – a European – it often looks like they are arbitrarily stripping people of their rights. It reminds me of the last lines of the Rage Against the Machine song “Know your enemy.”

    Yes I know my enemies
    They’re the teachers who taught me to fight me
    Compromise, conformity, assimilation, submission
    Ignorance, hypocrisy, brutality, the elite
    All of which are American dreams
    All of which are American dreams
    All of which are American dreams
    All of which are American dreams
    All of which are American dreams
    All of which are American dreams
    All of which are American dreams
    All of which are American dreams

  • Greg M

    Though I am responding 10 days later. I do want to say this. NJ DYFS is horrible. They ignore NJSA, and try to rule by fiat. In these cases, they take the child away with little or no investigation. And then to even try to get your child back the parent(s) would then have to sue DYFS in the Superior Court of NJ — Chancery Division Family Part. This is not a victory, I have been in front of Judge Carchman(him presiding) a few times, he is an appellate judge. And let me say he is a judicial activist. He has no regard for the law. He is not an originalist. And in one case I had he actually used foreign law, to come to a decision. Where there was NJ precedent from the NJ Supreme Ct. from the year before their decision. I am not talking about foreign state law, I am talking about foreign country law, where the judgment was rendered in NJ. Both parties were in NJ. Service and venue was proper. Obviously, it was an unpublished decision, and 8 months later, NJ Supreme Ct over turned it. But, these are sick people.

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  • someone

    take the baby away to save from vaginal birth that happened already? this is ridiculous!