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A woman in New Jersey refused to consent to a C-section during labor in the event that her baby was in distress. She ended up giving birth vaginally without incident. The baby was in good medical condition.
However, her baby was taken away from her and her parental rights were terminated because she "abused and neglected her child" by refusing the C-section and behaving "erratically" while in labor.
How is this legal?
A New Jersey appellate court has upheld the shocking ruling, and custody has been given to the child's foster parents.
Dr. Shnaidman concluded that J.M.G. would not be safe in
V.M. and B.G.'s care. She stated that it would be dangerous and
reckless to return the child to them, because "[t]hese are
parents who live in a world that has nothing to do with the
world that we live in. And anything could happen there at any
time and there's no way to predict it." Her written report
concluded that "[w]ithout appropriate psychiatric treatment,
including aggressive psychopharmacological intervention, neither
[V.M.] nor [B.G.] presents as a fit parent at this time."
On March 19, 2007, the judge entered an order reflecting
his findings that (1) “t [was] not and will not be safe to
return [J.M.G.] home in the foreseeable future because [of]
mother’s . . . psychiatric condition [and] father’s
unwillingness to accept mother’s psych[iatric] condition"; (2)
DYFS made reasonable efforts to reunify the family; and (3)
adoption was an appropriate plan because of V.M.’s psychiatric
condition and non-compliance with treatment and B.G.’s lack of
acceptance. He ordered that J.M.G. remain in placement and that
DYFS find a pre-adoptive home.
A judge may find that a child is abused or neglected, if
DYFS has established, by a preponderance of the evidence, that
physical, mental or emotional condition has
been impaired or is in imminent danger of
becoming impaired as the result of the
failure of his parent or guardian . . . to
exercise a minimum degree of care (a) in
supplying the child with adequate food,
clothing, shelter, education, medical or
surgical care though financially able to do
so or though offered financial or other
reasonable means to do so, or (b) in
providing the child with proper supervision
or guardianship, by unreasonably inflicting
or allowing to be inflicted harm, or
substantial risk thereof . . . ; or by any
other acts of a similarly serious nature
requiring the aid of the court.
There is no allegation that J.M.G. was actually harmed by her
parents. Rather, the judge's finding was based solely on the
imminent danger of harm presented by V.M.'s actions and mental
The unique problem here is that much of V.M.'s erratic
behavior occurred before J.M.G.'s birth, while V.M. was still
pregnant. N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.21(b) defines "child" simply as "any
child alleged to have been abused or neglected." Nothing in the
statute or the attendant legislative history suggests that the
Legislature intended that the provisions of the Act should apply
to a fetus.9
I now address the significant issue raised by the unique
facts of this case — whether V.M.'s refusal to consent to the csection
may be considered in determining the issue of abuse and
neglect. The positions of the parties are simply stated. V.M.
asserts that she had a fundamental right to refuse medical
treatment during pregnancy, even at the risk of death to herself
or the fetus. The law guardian, on behalf of the child and
relying on New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services v.
L.V., 382 N.J. Super. 582 (Ch. Div. 2005), contends that a
finding of abuse and neglect can only be based on a child's
experiences after birth. He further contends that V.M. had a
constitutional right to control her own body and to avoid
unwanted medical procedures.
However, the judge observed that
it is the attendant suffering to the child,
after birth, that a court must rely on in
making a finding of abuse or neglect under
those circumstances. The mother's decision
to use narcotics or alcohol during her
pregnancy alone is an insufficient basis for
a finding of abuse or neglect.
Id. at 590 (emphasis added).
In K.H.O., the Court held that "[d]rug use during pregnancy, in
and of itself, does not constitute a harm to the child under
N.J.S.A. 30:4C-15.1(a)(1)," even though the Court recognized
that drug use during pregnancy poses serious risks to the
unborn. K.H.O., supra, 161 N.J. at 349-51 (citations omitted).
However, "an infant born addicted to drugs and suffering the
resultant withdrawal symptoms has suffered harm that endangers
her health and development within the meaning of [the statute].
Originally posted by damwel
Not only she have a history of being mentally disturbed she also is 18 and has 4 kids already. That's not against the law but I wonder how long until people start making remarks about her becoming an "OctoMOM".
Originally posted by JalZhaunlUss
Unless there was more evidence against her that the baby would not be taken care of or she was a drunk or druggie she needs to sue the corrupt state of NJ