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Newborn Taken From Parents Who Refuse Hepatitis B Vaccine and Ask Too Many Questions

The following story about the nightmare that Jodi and Scott Farris went through showed up in my inbox from the Home School Legal Defense Fund. I’m speechless at how our parental rights continue to be challenged and stripped away. This could’ve been any one of us parents who have learned to question everything. It makes me thankful to be a member of the HSLDF who are actually doing something to fight these injustices!

Judge—Case of Seized Newborn May Now Proceed

By James R. Mason, III
HSLDA Director of Litigation

When Jodi Ferris arrived at Hershey Medical Center after giving birth in an ambulance, the last thing she and her husband, Scott, expected was to lose custody of their newborn daughter, forcing them to spend the first night of their daughter’s life sleeping in their car in the parking lot across the street.

But that is exactly what happened after Jodi—like any concerned mom—apparently asked hospital staff too many questions about the care her baby daughter was receiving.

In March we told you about the civil rights case HSLDA filed against the Pennsylvania social worker and Hershey Medical Center staff who seized “Annie” shortly after she was born.But that is exactly what happened after Jodi—like any concerned mom—apparently asked hospital staff too many questions about the care her baby daughter was receiving.

Several months later, in July, the social worker and the medical defendants both asked the federal district court judge to dismiss the lawsuit. If these motions had been granted, the case would have ended.

Now, we’re pleased to report a major victory in this case. Last week the judge denied both motions to dismiss, allowing the Ferrises’ case to proceed.

Case Recap

Scott and Jodi had planned on having a home birth, but when Jodi’s labor progressed too quickly for the midwife to arrive, they called an ambulance. Annie was born on the way to the hospital.

At the hospital, Jodi was met with a flurry of activity. Some of it was what you would expect after delivering a baby in an ambulance. As any concerned mom would do, Jodi asked about the condition of her child and the care she was receiving.

Jodi received conflicting answers, ranging from a statement that Annie was doing fine to one that she would need stay in the hospital for three days. This understandably caused Jodi more concern and prompted her to ask her questions with more urgency.

Not too long after Jodi and Annie arrived, it appeared that the medical staff had had enough of Jodi questioning what they were doing. A government social worker, Angela Lopez-Heagy, entered Jodi’s room and announced that she was there to conduct an investigation of allegations the nature of which she refused to divulge.

When Jodi told Lopez-Heagy that she wasn’t comfortable answering questions without knowing what the allegations were, the social worker told her that if Jodi wasn’t willing to cooperate she would call a police officer to take custody of Annie.

The social worker grilled Jodi about why she had refused to allow the hospital to give Annie the hepatitis B vaccine, and asked other questions about Annie’s care that HSLDA believes fall within routine parental decision making.

From time to time, the social worker would leave the room to confer with hospital staff. A nurse physically blocked the door to prevent Jodi from also leaving.

Eventually the social worker told Jodi that she would need to agree to a “safety plan.” When Jodi asked to see the plan, Lopez-Heagy told her it wasn’t written down yet, but if she did not consent to the safety plan and agree to “whatever the hospital wanted,” she would lose custody of her newborn child.

Meanwhile, Scott had left to bring the Ferrises’ other children to a friends’ home. Jodi told the social worker that she was not comfortable signing a safety plan before Scott returned.

Lopez-Heagy responded that she was not waiting any longer. If Scott returned by the time the safety plan was prepared, she said, he could review it. Otherwise, if Jodi didn’t sign the safety plan, “I’m calling the police and having them take custody of the baby.”

That is exactly what happened. Jodi was directed by a uniformed police officer to hand her newborn daughter over to a nurse. Although she begged to be allowed to sign the safety plan even though Scott hadn’t returned, she was told, “That window has closed.”

Jodi was then escorted off the hospital premises. On the way out she met Scott, who was just returning from dropping off the other children.

Jodi was allowed to return every three hours to nurse the baby, but she could not remain in the hospital. She and Scott slept in their car in the parking lot across the street.

The next morning, a juvenile-court judge returned Annie to Scott and Jodi. Two weeks later he dismissed the case against them.

Why HSLDA Took This Case

You may be asking yourself what the Ferris case has to do with homeschooling.

Our hard-won homeschooling freedoms depend on parental rights. HSLDA is concerned that those rights are being eroded in many areas of our law and culture. Anytime and anywhere that parental rights are diminished, it ultimately affects homeschooling.

One of the scenarios our lawyers hear about over and over again is similar to Scott and Jodi’s.

A homeschooling mom takes a child to the emergency room after an injury on the soccer field. The admitting nurse asks mom about immunizations and asks the child probing questions about guns in the home and whether the child feels safe with mom and dad.

The homeschool mama-bear instincts kick in and she objects.

All too often, this innocent act of simply questioning medical personnel in a hospital results in a visit from a social worker to “encourage cooperation.”

Hospitals and doctor’s offices should not be hostile environments. And asking doctors questions about the need for various treatments is not abuse or neglect.

Yet, there appears to be a growing trend among doctors and nurses, especially in hospitals, to quickly summon social workers to coerce cooperation with their questions, tests, or recommendations—not to investigate suspected abuse or neglect.

Some of those who read this will be surprised or even offended that we are suing doctors and nurses. We are certainly grateful for the expertise and skill that medical personnel employ to heal us and we are not intending to indict the entire profession.

But many reading this will identify with Scott and Jodi. I know this because I have received dozens of emails from those folks.

One of the most important principles HSLDA is hoping to establish in this case is that hospital staff who collaborate with government social workers in situations like Scott and Jodi’s can be held liable for violating federal constitutional rights to the same extent as a government agent can be.

A favorable outcome in the Ferris case would act as a deterrent to this type of conduct by healthcare workers in the future.

The Decision

When the medical defendants at Hershey Medical Center moved to dismiss our amended complaint, they argued that because they are not state employees, they should not be held liable for violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.

In rejecting their argument, the judge held that “[t]he Amended Complaint thus establishes that the H[ershey] M[edical] C[enter] defendants knowingly set into motion and participated in a chain of events intending that a constitutional violation, namely the improper removal of [Annie] from her parents’ custody, would occur.” You may read the full decision here.

The judge’s decision allows HSLDA to proceed to the next phase of the case. Now we will be able to depose all of the defendants and gain access to their notes, records, and policies in preparation for trial.

We will also be engaging experts to testify that Annie faced no immediate threat to her health or safety that would justify what the defendants did here.

We Need Your Help

The homeschooling movement has grown and prospered over the past three decades. At the same time, however, parental rights in other areas of life are being nibbled away almost imperceptibly.

We don’t want to be like the proverbial frog that doesn’t feel the water heating up until it’s too late!

If we are going to stop this trend, we will need more people like Scott and Jodi who are willing to take a stand. And we will need to stand together with them in defense of parental rights as faithfully as we have for homeschooling freedom.

If you are reading this and are not a member of HSLDA, won’t you consider joining today? Your membership dues will help support all the work we do to defend and expand homeschooling freedom and parental rights. And by becoming a member, you will be standing for freedom with tens of thousands of other families.

If you are already a member or would like to help more, please consider making a tax-deductible gift to the Homeschool Freedom Fund. Your generous gift will make it possible for us to pursue this case and others like it to establish precedents that will help protect all of us.

HSLDA is currently considering two new complicated cases involving homeschooled children who were seized by hospitals and a third involving an infant. And we will also be pursuing two other cases involving unconstitutional entry into the home, similar to the Loudermilk case, which is now on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.



    • Well said. That is what all people are taught in a statist society. It all starts (publicly) when five- years-olds swear allegiance to a flag. They have no idea what they are doing. It is taught for conditioning purposes. Worship is a good word as those who believe in a government based, centrally planned society see the government as a moral authority to whom they must pay money so that the society can have roads, hospitals, and of course, schools. It is a religion or a cult. I find it funny how so many people abhor the government yet they cling to it because without it, as they say, there would be no order.

  1. This happened while I was pregnant with my daughter. I literally had a “steal the baby from the hospital” plan made with a girlfriend because we were refusing vaccines.

    • First let me say that no baby or child should ever be removed from their parents without clear cut evidence of a real and present danger to the child that is caused by the parent or parents. In this case though the onus is on the parents to make sure their alternative plans are known beforehand and don’t cause a problem when an emergency arises.

      In response to your comment;
      1. “these people who are making a decision based on the best for their child”

      from what I can tell their decisions included attempting a home birth where emergency care would be much less accessible in case the mother or baby needed it and then not having selected a mid-wife that would be available at a moments notice. This led to the baby being born in an ambulance which is certainly not “the best for their child”. I’m sure red flags were raised because of the circumstances of the delivery, regardless of the parents intentions or beliefs this is not the way the vast majority of babies are delivered in 2012 and the hospital can’t be expected to know that these parents don’t believe in vaccines or other generally accepted medical practices like delivering your baby at the hospital. With no background information it isn’t hard to see how the hospital initially thought this was a social services case.

      2. The only reason we pay for social services with our tax money is because of the people who truly abuse their children. Its unfair to all public employees to imply that the only people persecuted in these cases are innocent while “Crazy, people who abuse their children ( in various ways) are not even challenged “

      • I have a hard time with your logic. They “chose a midwife who would not be available”? Really? Like parents who give birth in a hospital but their doctor is not on call, “chose a doctor who would not be on call when they gave birth”? Think about it. Her labor progressed too quickly so they called an ambulance. They did not sit at home & just try to do it themselves or wait for the midwife, didn’t they make the “best choice” in your opinion? As others have stated, attempting a home birth or giving birth in an ambulance is not evidence of neglect or abuse. These did not raise red flags. The fact is the only “crime” they committed was refusing an unnecessary vaccine and questioning the care their baby was receiving. Unless you are a parent who has ever dared to step outside of how government dictates we raise our children, you have no idea. I have a feeling Obamacare is going to be the next step in taking away everyone’s personal rights to accept or refuse conventional medicine. Now our health choices are going to be managed by the federal government.

        • my point is at a hospital there is ALWAYS a highly trained and licensed professional and as other people have said on here if you are forceful enough they will normally comply with your wishes.

          Complications in you “plan” are more likely when you remove yourself from the center of medical care.

          • If the mother is not high-risk, homebirth is AT LEAST AS SAFE as hospital birth. That is what the available research says, per the Cochrane Collaboration, which is the most unbiased research analyzing body available. It should not be a red flag for neglect or abuse, but there are unethical medical staff that think it is okay to “punish” laboring women who need to transfer to the hospital or who need to birth in the hospital after planning a homebirth. This is not uncommon, but it is, of course, very hard to prove. Keeping the baby in the hospital unnecessarily “for observation” is one way this is done, calling CPS is another, denying the mother proper medical care is a third.

            My first was supposed to be a homebirth, with an (then illegal in that state) midwife in attendance. I had excellent prenatal care with that midwife. At 35 weeks pregnant, I made a trip to our state capitol to lobby the state legislature in support of the law we were trying to get passed to make our midwives legal. On the way home, I was in a car accident, and the seat belt broke my water. I was transported to the hospital in the state capitol (a small town, and this was a smokin’ hot political issue at the time, so we were very worried about the care we would receive). My daughter was born there. We were very lucky. Mostly, we were simply left alone, which was all we wanted. The nurses wanted me to wear the monitor belt (in case anyone doesn’t know, the research is that intermittent monitoring with a doppler stethoscope is just as good as the belt–it’s just a little more work for the nurse) but it would only work if I stayed in bed AND I was very badly bruised right where they wanted it. AND bed is the worst place to be while in labor, as far as making it easy on mama. So I did what I wanted and figured they’d have to deal with hubs to force me to do anything (hubs is large and imposing). Anyway, the baby needed NICU care, and was taken by ambulance to the larger town 30 miles away, where the NICU was. Hubs rode with her, and MIL took me (no WAY was I going to be 30 miles away from my baby, not when I could stand and walk. While we were waiting at the first hospital for the NICU team, the pediatrician did feel that it was okay to make snide remarks about people who chose to use midwives. I was out of the room, but hubs was not. Hubs, however, exercised great restraint and managed to keep from even commenting back. At the NICU hospital, the doctor wanted to give a Hep B shot to a premie who was intubated to breathe and who had an infection (no one ever told me what sort). Shots are contraindicated for sick babies, period. I had to state loudly enough for every parent in the NICU to hear that, unless he had Hepatitis B running loose in his NICU, my daughter did not need any unnecessary medical procedures at this time. That shut him up and no one brought the matter up again in the 6 days we were there, so, if she had a shot, it was done without my knowledge or consent–illegally. And I was there all but long enough to eat and sleep. My other two children were born uneventfully at home with midwives in attendance, and have never even been sick enough to take to a doctor. They’ve had a few mild colds, but that’s all.

          • Actually, most women who give birth alone do so in a hospital. The standard practice is to hook women up to monitors and have one nurse in a central area watching the blips on several screens. If the nurse’s interpretation of those blips doesn’t match what’s actually happenning, the woman gives birth alone.

            I had one friend who had to scream and argue (loudly) to convince anyone that birth was happenning NOW. They insisted she wasn’t going to be ready for hours. She insisted that she had just run her fingers through her daughter’s hair. They checked her, then began totally freaking out because the “right” professional wasn’t on hand to catch the baby.

            I met another young woman who arrived in the hospital for her planned hospital birth. But the birth was going along faster than planned and the baby was crowning when she arrived. They actually FORCED THE BABY BACK INSIDE HER because the proper doctor hadn’t arrived yet. She would have been safer giving birth in a taxi.

            There is NOT always a highly trained and licensed professional on hand in a hospital when a baby is arriving. The trained and licensed professionals may be busy, and everyone else is too enamored with degrees to consent to catching a baby.

            And being forceful enough about your wishes is why little Annie was taken away from her parents.

      • Their decision to birth at home and deny routine vaccination of a newborn should in no way send up red flags. Not to mention the fact that sometimes women have precipitous labors even if they fully intend to birth in a hospital. There is nothing fishy about any of the things that set this in motion. The hospital was most likely trying to punish this family for not being cooperative. I’m so tired of people refusing to see these things for what they actually are and defending outright assaults on our personal liberties. I’m having a really hard time fathoming the fact that you think that giving birth in an ambulance and refusing a vaccine warrant a social service visit. You don’t want to make waves and think “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about so just follow the rules.” They’ll end up coming for you, too, in the end. We need to stop this social conditioning before it’s too late, if it isn’t already…

        • I never said anything about the vaccine choice. I said that from the point of view of hospital officials they were most likely concerned that they had an ambulance birth in a situation where the mother would’ve normally been at the hospital. They reacted as if they had no prior information about the parents and their wishes and had to look into the chance of neglect. That’s probably way to many inferences on my part but social workers weren’t called unless somebody with good intentions for the new born overacted.

      • The majority of the world does not give birth in a hospital. Europeans frown upon our impersonal and cold birthing routines. The truth is that having babies is a business. Every baby born in the US is a dollar sign to the medical industry.

  2. Holly, Tell everyone caring for you and your baby your are delaying vaccines. Make sure everyone knows ahead if time. When my daughter was taken to the nursery after birth ( didn’t want her there, long story) my husband and parents took turns staying with her until they brought her to my room. Be a broken record. Finally one nurse gave me a look and said, Oh, your pedi will give her the shots? and let me nod so she could write it on her chart.

  3. This is why I love livng in Seattle and giving birth at the UW hospital. They follow the birth plan 100%. I had a natural birth and my baby did not get the Hep B vaccine! The nurses also encouraged me to sleep with my daughter skin to skin and were so supportive of breast feeding. To top it off they use cloth diapers :-)

  4. @Gail Spaulding Shroeder: We were told the same thing in 1992. We had four other children but that was the first time we’d heard of the Hep B. It is such a ridiculous argument.

  5. Dr. Tenpenny on Vaccines is a great Facebook page. Great info for parents who choose not to Vaccinate their children.

  6. Wild. I live not too far from Hershey and our infant daughter has been treated there twice. We had good experiences with them – we home-birthed also – but I expended a lot of energy to soothe touchy egos.

  7. We refused hep b and I had a natural birth in a hospital – in NJ of all places – without any issues. This was only 10 months ago, but how scary that this can happen!

    • No one implied they don’t.

      Just because someone says that someone has something, does not mean that others do not. It’s like saying “Breastfeeding mothers love their babies.” They do. It does NOT imply that formula feeding mothers don’t. Moms read that sort of nonsense into comments for some reason when it isn’t there. As I’m sure it was not when Kelly wrote the post….

  8. that is very upsetting. I didn’t allow any vaccines in the hospital. I told them I would handle it with the pediatrician.

  9. There is more to this story!! Parents can have very bad attitudes and it can be interpreted by social services as parents bring a loose cannon with a newborn. not saying this happened but is be willing to bet words were exchanged and one of those parents flipped out. I’ve seen this happen.

    • Even if that is true — and we don’t know if it is — that does NOT excuse what happened. The hospital staff isolated the mother, refused to read her the accusations, refused to let her consult with her husband/support people, and then they illegally took custody of the baby. They may have been within their rights to talk to the parents further to determine what was going on if they felt the parents were abnormally upset, but there are procedures and processes to follow. They did not follow them, and that is wrong.

    • So what if they had an attitude? The woman just had a baby! The hospital is supposed to know wtf they are doing. The woman and her husband were vulnerable, and they hospital decided to make an example of them.

  10. The Decision
    When the medical defendants at Hershey Medical Center moved to dismiss our amended complaint, they argued that because they are not state employees, they should not be held liable for violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
    In rejecting their argument, the judge held that “[t]he Amended Complaint thus establishes that the H[ershey] M[edical] C[enter] defendants knowingly set into motion and participated in a chain of events intending that a constitutional violation, namely the improper removal of [Annie] from her parents’ custody, would occur.” You may read the full decision here.
    The judge’s decision allows HSLDA to proceed to the next phase of the case. Now we will be able to depose all of the defendants and gain access to their notes, records, and policies in preparation for trial.
    We will also be engaging experts to testify that Annie faced no immediate threat to her health or safety that would justify what the defendants did here.

  11. Wow. So much to comment on here. Let me start by saying that I am mom to a 13 year old girl. When she was much younger, I asked the pediatrician if I could “space out” vaccines into individual components (like having the MMR separated into individual vaccines of measles, mumps, and rubella, spaced several months apart). They were fine with that. They are also fine with the fact that I have turned down the Gardisil vaccine for my daughter. I am a registered nurse who works in an emergency department, and during the triage process, I am required by hospital protocol and/or JCAHO regulations to ask certain questions, among them regarding immunization status and home safety. If a parent tells me that immunizations are not up to date, we merely make a note of it. As for home safety, our sole concern is that family members feel safe. If concerns are expressed, the only thing we do is offer alternatives such as safe or crisis housing. As for vaccines, I truly do understand concerns some parents have regarding vaccine efficacy and safety; on the other hand, in my medical career, I’ve seen children die or suffer life-long disability as a result of contracting the very diseases that the vaccines would have prevented. I feel as though the entire medical community is being painted with the same negative brush after reading this article.

  12. Hospitals have always had a holy than thou attitude over everything and everyone. I’m glad this lawsuit continues and hopefully the hospital employees may see the error of their ways….

  13. I recently took 2 of our foster kids to Ped and was chastised by nurse and told I risk infecting others for not consenting to flu shots. I was lectured and demeaned for nearly 30 minutes at Lehigh Valley Hospital children’s clinic, also in Pa. I am scared I will be required to give data

    • Next time, come prepared with some facts and lecture them back. Tell them that the flu shot isn’t effective at least 50% of the time. Tell them that even if they DO get a flu shot, they can still carry/transmit the virus to others on their body. Come with a list of ingredients found in the flu shot. I have found that an educated consumer/patient is scarier and more powerful than a brainwashed nurse/Dr.

  14. That’s so sad but unfortunately I can relate to their pain. I was in a similar situation in 2010 after the birth of my second child. I did what CPS wanted to avoid both our children being taken away which is what they said they would do if I wasn’t compliant with them. I’m still trying to recover from the emotional pain and feeling of helplessness that comes from having been in this situation. And my constant anxiety from being told that if I should try to avoid getting reported again because if I am, it was very likely that they would take my children away. :(

  15. This is another example of why the state is not only unnecessary but also harmful. I would never talk to the police or any other government agent. You are not required to answer any questions, especially without some sort of “legal” council. I also recommend recording all interactions with public officials. Cameras not only provide a record of what happened, they also deter people from abusing their “power.”

    • when does the state become unnecessary? after the roads, bridges, electrical grid, water, sewer, sanitation, and police systems are built and operational (i left out schools for you). Would the people be better off without the basic infrastructure that lets people make lifestyle choices because they don’t have to be constantly worried about survival? Fight for and use your freedoms. Don’t pretend we’d be better off with no government at all without realizing your life would fall apart to the point that you will be worried about food and heat and not vaccines and social service workers.

      • We had schools, roads, etc before we grew a huge gov’t and we did it without income taxes. This argument is bunk. Private companies lay roads paid for by your taxes (so cut out the middle man and they will compete for lower costs) and private schools out shine public ones at a fraction of the cost. Nobody asked you (or me) to have kids, so find a way to educate them yourselves, and you aren’t required to own or drive a car. City and local gov’s are much different than the over bearing fed power that has enslaved us all. If you don’t think that about 95% of our gov (state and federal) isn’t a giant corrupt waste of money (which by the way is being devalued daily) then you are exactly what we have “come to expect from years of gov’t training.”( ~ K – Men in Black). The cops in my area can’t solve crimes, but in the last 6 months they managed to kill 4 people they should have been able to detain without violence. Enough of praising our over paid inefficient gov’t employees and agencies. I have no worries of food and heat (or self protection) without the gov’t.

  16. I’m a OB nurse and find this story appauling. I’ve never worked anywhere where patients were threatened with CPS for asking questions or refusing non-life threatening care. Usually, its the peds making rounds at my hospital who try to talk the moms into things they didn’t think they wanted. I often find that the social workers in our area care less about the nurses’s concerns than we’d like and do not act when we wish they would.

    I’d like to meet a nurse who has time in this era of massive paper work (really on a computer) and a million regulations to go stirring up trouble with a mom asking reasonable questions–even if they did not agree with her choices.

    • I am also an OB nurse. We ask because we have to, accept or decline, sign here. That story is awful and doesn’t represent all of healthcare.
      Home birth is scary, I’ve seen women and babies who would have died if they had not been in an acute care setting. You can birth naturally in a hospital and refuse anything you want.
      I wish nurses would judge less and support more. I am a patient advocate, I just want patients to make informed decisions.

      • Home birth is not scary if you are aware of the facts. Of course it is not for everyone, but all studies show it is perfectly safe for low-risk women. Unfortunately trends show that in many hospitals women ARE likely to be pushed into interventions they don’t need because it is “procedure.” And as for the ‘women and babies would have died’ we don’t know that. Midwives are trained to handle an awful lot, as well as to know the limits of their scope of care and transfer mothers when needed. My own son was born at home with the cord tightly wrapped around his neck and not breathing well. I know in a hospital he would have had his cord cut immediately and would have been whisked off to the NICU. It was actually safer for him to stay on my chest to regulate his breathing, not cut his cord until after his breathing was well established (they brought along oxygen, which they used), and he is a very healthy and happy 3.5 YO today. The midwives also worked quickly and calmly and didn’t alarm me — I’m quite sure the hospital’s flurry and ripping my brand new baby away from me would have alarmed me! There are a whole host of reasons why the hospital’s interventions in this situation would not have been preferable.

        At any rate, women should be informed about the safety of home birth and should be allowed to choose, in conjunction with a trusted provider, what is right for them.

  17. My daughter was born this past Aug. and they were fine with me refusing the Hep. B vax at the hospital.

  18. Children are being returned to repeat drug offenders and THIS one ends up in court… what the crap.

  19. Doesn’t matter, Jennifer. They are the parents, they are not prisoners, they have not given up their rights by entering a hospital. The hospital was holding them against their wills and abducted their daughter. It was false imprisonment. It doesn’t matter how obnoxious the parents.

  20. Why were social services even called in the first place? This hospital, and the police, have a lot to answer for in my opinion. I hope each one of them is nailed to the wall.

  21. I am not a sue-happy person at all, but I do hope the parents win big in this case, to discourage this kind of abuse from happening in the future anywhere else! So upside down and creepy to punish good parents who make educated decisions out of concern for their children.

  22. The Hospital is the most dangerous place you can be, where freedom is concerned. It is somewhat like being in a prison, where physical force can and will be used to control you. The nurse standing in the doorway to keep the mom from leaving is an example. Other people have been drugged to keep them from leaving. Many hospitals have no respect for individual choice or human rights. You do what they say or they will make you. Usually, social workers, who can use the police to physically enforce their demands, without trial or evidence, will do whatever the hospital wants them to do. If you will be going to a hospital, it is wise to have made arrangements with an attorney to be available to help you if necessary. Hospitals do fear lawsuits and attorneys, as do social workers. Even having several friends there as witnesses can make a difference.

  23. This story is very similar to what happened to me. I had a wonderful labor and delivery. The Dr. checked me out. The pediatrician checked my son out. The police met me at the door and said I couldn’t take the baby home. They sent my baby to another hospital in an ambulance. We followed in our car. At arriving at the Children’s Medical Center, the check in Dr. said “Why is this baby here? There is nothing wrong with him.” It took us 3 days to convince them to let us take him home. The hospital staff carried my baby to the door and when we were outside the building she said, “This is your baby now.” The only reason for all this was because we wanted to leave the hospital before the recommended 48 hours.

    • THIS is absurd. I left the hospital after 23 hrs with my 2nd-born. You simply have to sign that you are leaving AMA (“Against Medical Advice”) so it covers their butts and you can’t sue them. It is your right as a patient to be able to do this. We all need to learn what our rights are and be confident to speak up about them to those in “authority”, especially in a healthcare setting.

  24. When I first read this story this spring a very horrible thing happened to my family. Someone decided to call in a nameless faceless cowardly claim against my Husband stating that we are anti-government, he has too many guns and ammo, and was harming our children. Let me say that I doubt there is a Daddy out there that could possibly love his little girls more than this one. I home birthed both of them and he delivered them with me. So imagine my fear when I was pulled over by a swarm of cop cars and taken against my will with no info as to why to the DSS building and held against my will. I was threatened with losing my children. At no point would they inform me of the allegations. I was not able to call anyone to hep me. They wanted to do a forensic interview on my two year old. I was beyond terrified. They couldnt understand my lack of cooperation. In the end I allowed the interview where they asked incredibly leading questions. Luckily my then 2 yr old was more focused on toys then their nonsense. We then had to have home visits and character references. My children are not vaccinated and do not go to the Dr for well visits. They are almost never sick so they have almost no medical history. big problem to the govt officials. I was informed that the moment you ask a Dr or Midwife to assist you in the birth of your child you lose your rights to your child and the govt assumes them. you are saying you are unfit by asking for assistance. My heart breaks for all of the children in this awful system of govt abuse. it is amazing to me that a nameless faceless person can rip a family to shreds and suffer to consequences when found to be false. I live in constant fear of this happening again. Sorry for the long response I just want people to know this is VERY real and happening to very normal people just trying to live. We farm 3 acres in a rural area of NC.

    • Leah, your story is heartbreaking. What happened to you is in total violation of our constitution, yet the constitution means nothing unless the government obeys it, and all levels of government ignore it. I cannot believe this is happening in America, yet it happens all too often. I have heard immigrants from the old Soviet Union state that CPS is much worse than anything they had in Russia.

      Somehow, we have to ensure that all levels of government obey the constitution, or we have no freedom. None at all.

      • the police did not care about our Constitutional rights. We repeatedly told them they were violating them and they did not care. welcome to the new govt. Look up the NDAA. Being held without charges, without legal representation, so many issues! Kiss your children often!

        • I am so sorry about your ordeal. You and your family are not alone, and more and more people every day learn about the NDAA (which BOTH Romney and Obama fully support – along with most of the elected officials we pay handsomely) and our losses of constitutional rights. Hang in there and stay the course. Currently about to kiss my kiddos….again.

  25. that is so sickening. It is disgusting to know that trained medical professionals ie:nurses, would bully and question a woman WHO JUST GAVE BIRTH! as well as it being nobody’s business but the parents what get’s injected into their childs body

  26. Having a planned home birth is not only legal, but safe. Birth is sometimes very fast and when it is happening too quickly for the midwife (who has to obey traffic laws and speed limits) cannot make it the BEST thing to do is call an ambulance.

    This would have been no different if the couple were planning a hospital birth and labor came on too quickly to make it there.

    To suggest the couple was not making safe decisions because they had a planned home birth with a licensed midwife is absolutely inaccurate.

    • the BEST thing to do when emergency care is needed is be at the hospital. That is accurate. To suggest deciding to have a home birth is more dangerous (even if slightly) than a natural birth in a hospital in the presence of mid-wife’s, nurses, doctors, air and ground transportation is accurate.

      The parents 100% have the right to plan for and have a home birth. I was just pointing out that it is more dangerous, all healthcare and law enforcement policies agree, and that the unusual circumstances of the birth is most likely how this whole thing started. After that there was clearly gross misconduct by the hospital and social services staff but I can understand where their initial concerns came from.

      • No, it is NOT accurate. The Cochrane Collaboration has analyzed all the available research on homebirth and come to the conclusion that, as long as the pregnancy is not high-risk (midwives do not take on high-risk pregnancies. They send those mamas to the OB, as is appropriate), homebirth with a trained midwife is AT LEAST as safe as hospital birth, “a little less safe”. It may, in fact, be a little safer. Midwives are trained and equipped to handle emergencies (and many “emergencies” commonly associated with childbirth are things that simply do not occur unless certain common hospital procedures are involved) Homebirth is just plain not more dangerous than hospital birth, no matter how often one wishes to assert otherwise.

        However, in this case, it sounds like Baby was too fast for anyone–probably even too fast for the parents to have reasonably driven to the hospital. This happens sometimes. Whether or not the parents were planning a homebirth has little to do with any of it–except that it’s likely at least part of why the hospital people chose to bully this family.

        I am very glad the courts are taking this case. It’s high time for a court decision supporting parents’ rights when during childbirth!

          • Does the The Cochrane Collaboration explicitly say that home birth is safer for both the mother and the baby through the whole process? Or does it say that just as many babies survive the birth? There is a big difference between how many birth are successful vs. how many complications for the mother or baby occur and require medical attention from a hospital. Look at it this way, what % of home births require a trip to the hospital for one reason or another? Let say 1% even though I guarantee its much higher. Those 1% of mothers would’ve inherently been safer at the hospital, otherwise why are they traveling to the hospital after the fact for emergency care? And obviously low risk mom’s have a great chance of a safe delivery but how often do issues arise during labor well after all the checkups and sonograms and blood tests have determined the pregnancy is low risk? Even if a mid-wife can successfully handle an umbilical cord that might be wrapped around babies neck, stitches for the mom, etc. the fact remains that the same level of emergency care cannot be provided at the house vs. the hospital.

            You are saying that low risk mothers can deliver safely at home and that a mid-wife can handle many medical issues that arise without a trip to the hospital, I agree 100%. I’m saying in a hospital everything you just said is just as true AND you have many more experts already in place, you have emergency transportation, you have full access to life saving drugs, medical devices and machines. All this extra safety and if you are forceful and clear enough you can most often have a natural birth that meets your wishes in this setting.

            • Your argument that women who transfer to the hospital would have been inherently safer at the hospital is false. It’s based on the idea that those transfers are screaming ambulance transfers with a life-threatening emergency. They aren’t.

              Most hombirth to hospital transfers are simply because parents or midwife decide that the resources of the hospital are desirable at this time. When that decision is made, mom gets in a private vehicle and is driven to the hospital at a reasonable pace. This is exactly the same process that a mom planning a hospital birth goes through. Mom decides the labor has progressed far enough that it’s time to go to the hospital. Mom gets in the car. Someone drives her to the hospital. She might walk in under her own power or she might request a wheelchair.

              Why do women who planned a homebirth transfer? Well, the biggest reason is pain relief. Midwives don’t offer epidurals. In a long birth where mom decides she would like to chemical pain relief, a transfer to the hospital is required. In my case, I transferred to the hospital when my waters broke and there was meconium staining. The midwives told me the baby might need deep suction when he was born and they only carried equipment for shallow suction. So, off to the hospital we went. I gave birth something like 6 hours later.

              You say that you can have a natural birth as long as you are forceful and clear. But the very process of being forceful and clear interferes with birth. A birthing woman needs to feel safe. Having to regularly argue with people does not feel safe. It can slow the process of labor. That triggers the need for oxytocin to get things started again. But then the labor is more painful, so an epidural is required. But then the laboring mother can’t change position, so the chances of a ceserean birth go up. It’s called “cascading interventions” and it is one of the reasons why intervention rates are so high in hospitals. It’s also why we have one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the developed world.

              There is the additional issue that homebirth midwives simply give better care. I was doing “shadow care” for one of my births. That means I had a hospital team who was my backup…but they thought they were my primary. So I had an immediate, side-by-side comparison between homebirth midwive care and hospital care. It was stunning and alarming how negligent the hospital was of my health. The hospital team checked my urine for sugar once. The midwife checked it every visit. The hospital checked my iron once and said that if it was still low when I arrived to give birth, they’d just give me a blood transfusion. The homebirth midwife insisted on checking and rechecking my iron levels to be certain my supplements were working and I was no longer anemic. I have no doubt that hospitals are often blindsided by surprise obstetrical emergencies. They don’t pay very good attention. Midwives are hyper-alert and very quick to identify a woman who is sliding out of the low-risk category.

              Hospitals are the right place for some women to give birth. I have no regrets about my transfer. It was the right decision. But it is very, very difficult to have a normal birth in a hospital. Every aspect of hospital protocol disturbs and undermines the birth process. Pretty much the only women who successfully have normal births in a hospital are women who feel comforted by arguing with medical personnel and find needles and monitors soothing. Those women are very rare.

  27. Mother of 4, 1st born arrived in 1991. Even way back then I chose to follow the Japan newborn shot schedule, we travel a lot. I had done research, before easy internet, and showed my doctor my schedule and research. He agreed and together we followed that plan, separating super shots into singles. I have worked hard to have a relationship with my doctor and I have a huge notebook with all of our records organized. I have taken charge or our medical lives and files. We work with more than one set of medical personal. When I carry into the emergency room my notebook, I have all the files needed on hand. I have learned how to make myself helpful and “part of the team”, somehow a mom armed with a large notebook — it communicates — this “mom” is involved and to be included. I do try to express that I respect their profession, “medical”, and I also try to let them know that they need to respect mine “parent”. I have run into attitude from a few “young” nurses. I listen and then I try to “teach” them gently that “one size does not fit all” etc. I try to leave them with a bit of understanding towards the next parent that is like-minded to me. Thanks for letting me add to the conversation. It’s busy and I need to go. Merry Christmas all.

  28. I work as a postpartum and newborn nursery nurse in a hospital. I am appalled by this story and cannot imagine something like that happening where I work. It sounds like the staff just over-reacted and things escalated out of control. At my hospital, the Hep B vaccine (and all meds/procedures) are refusable. When I talk to new parents about the optional Hep B vaccination I always walk in the room with the decline form in my hand. I tell them their options, ask them if they have educated themselves on the matter of vaccines and remind them that they can delay any decision if they want to discuss things over with their pediatrician after they leave the hospital. If they are leaning toward getting it then I ask if either parent or caregiver has been diagnosed with Hep B and if not, then there is not immediate risk if they want to delay their decision until they have a chance to research the options. I am all about stressing to parents about the importance of educating themselves and also have the strength to disagree with their physicians if their gut tells them something different then what their doctor is ordering. I have more parents than not who decide to decline the vaccination (whether or not they decline vaccinations later on.) At least that baby buys a little time before being bombarded with the stuff. Just reminding parents that they have a right to refuse doctor’s orders have given mom’s the courage to refuse unnecessary IV’s, antibiotics and other meds that were only prescribed for “cautionary” reasons. Where I work, the parents pretty much get their way. We respect birth plans even though some staff members will grumble. The fact is, if you speak up and are persistant, you are usually likely to get your way. Just don’t expect to make any friends. So sorry to hear about the above story.

  29. I am not surprised by this story but still appalled. After planning and having our own home birth I can only imagine what this couple and child endured during those first weeks. A parental right is just that, no social worker, doctor, nurse or police has any right to inflict unwanted and unnecessary harm upon a human being let alone an infant. Our love and support goes out to this family and all others that have faced the consequences of the misinformed.

  30. I’m appalled at this story and can’t imagine it happening at either of the hospitals where I’ve birthed, or the hospital where I’ve been employed as a social worker for over five years. I worked in our emergency room to assess for concerns of child safety/abuse, and while there are rare times staff have concerns about parents who are very extreme in their natural/no Western medicine/no vaccines/family closed off to the rest of the world-type situation, the majority of my work was assessing genuine concerns about abuse and neglect. Situations where parents or grandparents thought their child or grandchild had been sexually abused by someone else or the child had disclosed it; kids with awful horrible injuries that could have happened no other way than blunt force trauma. Real, genuine abuse. It sickens me to read this story and think so much in the way of time and resources were spent unnecessarily turning a family’s life upside down.

    And though I’m not a child protective services worker, the fact that many are CPS workers are social workers certainly gives the rest of us a bad name. The situations we’ve ever had to get CPS involved to take custody have been severe ones, nothing like this story. Frankly, there are many, MANY more times I wish CPS would have responded with more assertiveness. Instead, I’m sending kids back to homes where I genuinely worry about their safety and their parents’ ability to keep them safe because CPS ok’s it. (And when we do get CPS involved, we’re required through our hospital policy to inform parents about it and why. And I would expect any CPS worker taking custody to explain themselves to a family, too, at a bare minimum. Truthfully, the situations they took immediate custody such as this story were so, so rare even when there were grave concerns – that’s why this story is so hard to believe!)

    I’ve twice refused a Hep B vax at birth and was supported by staff at both hospitals. I’ve taken my kids to a total of three peds or PCP’s over their lives and none have given me any grief whatsoever about our natural home remedies and delayed vax schedule. But then, I think we also “play the game” a bit and are seen as a little more reasonable to the medical community (ie, delayed vax schedule instead of none at all, well child visits with the same dr’s office, etc.) and there’s a lot to be said for things like that if you are a parent who is concerned about being put in a situation like this.

  31. Anyone who saw that last comment, don’t worry, it’s gone. Swearing with the Lords name is an automatic removal around here. (Not to mention their out-of-the park rudeness.)


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