With all the talk of the California judge taking away parents' rights to homeschool their children, and then, this news story about a mother being arrested for walking 10 yards away from her child, I have been thinking a lot about the rights of parents to make decisions for and about their own children.
There are so many decisions that parents need to make when rearing their children.
Many of these things can stir up controversy when discussed with anyone who feels strongly about them. Why? You may think one of these choices is better than another. Or you might think one of these choices is irresponsible.
The thing is, my husband and I must decide these things for our children, and my husband and I must take responsibility for the results.
After Emelyn was born, the hospital wanted to keep her for 48 hours for observation because I had tested positive for GBS in a previous pregnancy. We told them thank you very much, but we could observe her at home.
I had researched the risks and complications of GBS and am fully capable of determining if a baby is running a high fever. She would be nursing at least every 2hours, so I felt confident that I could handle it.
They informed me that Emelyn would not be released and that it was "medically necessary" for her to stay. What was she being treated for? Nothing. What was her condition? Healthy.
The nurses told me that even though I thought I could observe her at home, that she had to stay at the hospital because she might start running a fever. (1 in 4,000 GBS babies do.) I disagreed. Strongly.
All of these conversations took place in a very cordial way with smiles on faces all around. That's the southern way, don'tcha know. Still, the mood was tense as they insisted that I could not take my perfectly healthy baby home.
My husband was at home with our other 6 children during all of this, so it was very stressful to deal with it alone, especially when the nurses would come in 2 at a time to try to persuade me.
I told them that we didn't want to make a scene, but I assured them that if they thought they were keeping our baby against our will, there would indeed be a scene. They then told me that the police would be called if necessary!
I kept phoning my husband and updating him on the situation. He did a bit of quick research to find out what the laws were in cases like this. He found that we had to sign a form stating that we were leaving the hospital AMA, "against medical advice". This would assure the hospital that we would not hold them responsible for any damages in case of a problem.
The nurses would not bring me the form and said that they could not release the baby to my custody! The baby that I had just given birth to was not in my custody? This entire time, I never saw a doctor. Only the nurses would address our concerns.
Meanwhile, my husband made a few phone calls to hospital administrators and told them that he was going to be picking up his wife AND BABY in an hour and walking out the door with both of us. He suggested that they update themselves on the laws regarding parental rights and be prepared to explain to police why they were holding our perfectly healthy baby against our will.
After many tense (but cordial!) conversations, I was finally presented with the AMA form and we were "permitted" to take our baby home.
The whole ordeal was very disturbing to both my husband and me. We saw that there are people who believe that parents can not be trusted to make decisions for their own children.
Who is best qualified to make decisions for a child? What makes one person more qualified than another? Who is ultimately responsible for the child?
It is a scary thing to think that anyone can take away the rights of parents to act on behalf of their own children.